Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, 2 February 1977, Barranquilla, Colombia. This Colombian singer first broke into the Latin Music charts in 1995, and has since established herself as a crossover star with a groundbreaking blend of pop and rock styles. The daughter of a Colombian mother and a Lebanese father, her name means woman full of grace in Arabic. Shakira left her family home at the age of 13 to pursue a modelling career in Bogotá, but ended up signing a recording contract with Sony Records. She released her debut album in 1991, but despite indicating a precocious talent (all the tracks were self-written) neither this nor the follow-up Peligro enjoyed much commercial success.
Shakira returned to high school before branching out into acting, appearing on the Colombian soap-opera El Oasis. She released her breakthrough album, the rock-orientated Pies Descalzos, in 1996. The album was buoyed by the chart-topping success of the singles Estoy Aqui and Dónde Estás Corazón?, and went on to top the album charts in several Latin countries. The follow-up Dónde Están Los Ladrones? and an MTV Unplugged recording session were equally successful, and in 2000 Shakira won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (Ojos Asi) at the inaugural Latin Grammy Awards. The following years Laundry Service, her first album to include English language songs, affirmed the singers superstar status when it broke into the Top 5 of the mainstream US pop chart. The album went on to enjoy international acclaim, buoyed by the huge commercial success of the singles Whenever, Wherever (supported by a memorable and very sexy video) and Underneath Your Clothes.
Shakira took a break after touring in support of Laundry Service, although a remix collection and live album were released to keep her fans happy. During the hiatus she completed a wealth of new material, written in both English and Spanish. The singer opted to showcase the material on two new albums. The Spanish-language Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 was released in June 2005; the English-language Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 followed in November. In June 2006, she reached the top of the US and UK singles chart with the download favourite Hips Dont Lie (featuring Wyclef Jean).
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.