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Birth Name: Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll

Date of Birth: February 2, 1977

Place of Birth: Barranquilla, Colombia

Occupation: Singer

Height: 5' 2"

Shakira Biography

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on February 2, 1977, in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her father, William Mebarak Chadid, is an American of Lebanese descent, and her mother, Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado, is Colombian. Shakira is the youngest of their seven children.

Shakira attended Catholic school and at age 10 she tried out for the school choir, but she didn't make the cut because her voice was "too strong." This didn't discourage the young singer, however, as she had been writing and composing music since she was 8 years old, as well as choreographing dance routines. At 11, Shakira began learning to play the guitar. Later, she started taking belly dancing lessons to overcome her shyness. She is now known for her amazing dance routines on stage and in her music videos, which are based on the belly dancing she learned as a young teen.

From ages 10 to 13, Shakira was invited to perform at various events in Barranquilla, for which she gained some recognition in the area. She soon met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who recognized Shakira's talents and decided to aid in Shakira's music career. During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a motel lobby. Vargas was impressed with Shakira and gave her demo cassette to a song and artist director at Sony. The director was not captivated by Shakira as other had been and didn't agree to sign her. Vargas then set up an audition for Shakira in Bogotá, and arranged for Sony Colombia executives to come to the audition, not knowing they'd see Shakira's performance. Her live performance was considerably more powerful than her demo and she was soon signed to a three album deal with Sony.

In 1991, at age 15, Shakira released her first album titled Magia, (Magic) which featured songs that Shakira had written herself. The album sold less than 1000 copies and failed to form a fan base for Shakira. Her second album, Peligro (Danger) was released in 1993, and was more successful than her debut, but not popular enough to make Shakira a star. After her second album, Shakira decided to take some time off from recording in order to graduate from high school.

Shakira's third album, Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) featured more songs written by Shakira, with more rock, pop and Latin tones than her previous albums. This album was a huge success in Latin America and Shakira finally broke into fame. Pies Descalzos sold more than 4 million copies, which prompted the release of a remix album, titled simply The Remixes, which sold more than one million copies.

Shakira's fourth album, ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (Where Are The Thieves?), was released in 1998, and had a more polished sound than Pies Descalzos. This album sold nearly 7 million copies, outselling her previous record by 3 million. This album garnered Shakira more fans in non-Spanish-speaking countries.

After the great success of ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?, Shakira began working on a crossover album to the English language. Collaborating with Gloria Estefan, Shakira wrote and recorded English versions of the tracks from ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? Shakira later decided against using translations of her songs for the English album and she worked for the next year on new material. In 2001, Shakira released Laundry Service, which was another successful album, selling more than 13 million copies worldwide. The album featured the single "Whenever, Wherever" which made North American audiences fall in love with Shakira.

In 2002, Shakira won 5 MTV Video Music Awards Latin America: Best Female Artist, Best Pop Artist, Best Artist—North (Region), Video of the Year (for "Suerte"), and Artist of the Year.

After a break from recording, Shakira released her next album in June 2005, titled Fijación Oral (Oral Fixation) Vol. 1. The single "La Tortura" ("The Torture") reached #1 in Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany, and spent 25 weeks at #1 on the the United States Billboard Hot Latin Tracks. Other singles from the album, "No" and "Fijación Oral Vol. 1" also saw great success worldwide. Shakira then released her second English album, Oral Fixation Vol. 2, in November 2005. The album's single "Don't Bother" was well received by music critics, but failed to peak within the U.S. top 40. The second single "Hips Don't Lie" (featuring Wyclef Jean) became her first single to reach #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. In June 2006, Shakira started her biggest tour ever, called the "Oral Fixation Tour," which will last until the summer of 2007.

In 2006, Shakira was the most nominated artist of the year for MTV Video Music Awards. Her seven nominations were for "Hips Don't Lie," including Video of the Year and Best Female Video. She won one award for Choreography.

Shakira started dating Antonio de la Rúa, the son of then president of Argentina, Fernando de la Rúa, in 2000. Their relationship made headline news throughout Latin America, and in March of 2001, they became engaged. During Fernando De la Rúa's presidency, the economy of Argentina collapsed, leading to the subsequently violent December 2001 riots; in response to the turmoil, Tower Records decided to no longer sell Shakira's albums in Argentina, as Antonio was directly involved in the management of his father's administration.
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