Grammy-winning Latina pop singer Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2, 1977. Her father is a Lebanese American immigrant and her mother a native of Colombia of Italian and Spanish descent. Shakira began her musical career at age 12 and quickly captured fans throughout Latin America. She won the 2001 Best Latin pop Grammy for her “MTV Unplugged” album.
AKA Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripolli
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Latin American legend
Perhaps the most popular performer to ever emerge from Latin America, in the 00s Shakira Ripoli managed to transcend the language barrier and establish herself as one of the top entertainment industry names in the world. Born in Colombia to a Lebanese father and a mother of mixed Colombian and Italian descent, at the age of 13 she moved out on her own to pursue a modeling career in the Colombian capital city of Bogotá, but a year later found herself positioned instead as a recording artist for Sony Colombia. Her first album, Magia (1991), appeared shortly afterwards; few people took notice of the release, and less than 1000 copies were sold. A second album released two years later (Peligro, 1993) was given a similar reception, and for a time young singer abandoned music and turned her attention to acting, taking a role on the Colombian soap opera El Oasis while completing her high school education.
In 1995 Shakira returned to the recording studio to create Pies Descalzos; aided by the public interest generated by her acting career, the album became a regional hit, and its singles Estoy Aquí and Dónde Estás Corazón? even found their way into the international market. By the release of her fourth effort ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (1998), she had positioned herself at the forefront of the Spanish-language music scene, and — particularly with the single Ojos Así — began her emergence beyond it. The popularity of an MTV Unplugged session in 2000 cleared the way for her first big American success a year later: containing tracks in both English and Spanish, Laundry Service (2001) brought Shakira high into the US, UK and Canadian charts, an accomplishemnt that very few Latin stars had managed to achieve. The dual-language release of the featured single Whenever, Wherever / Suerte subsequently reached top 10 positions in nearly every major music market in the world.
In the interim before her next album, a compilation titled Grandes éxitos (2002) was issued, featuring selections from Shakira’s first four releases (the first two of which had become extremely scarce); a second disc in the collection was a multimedia DVD that included the popular video for Whenever, Wherever / Suerte. This was followed by Live & Off The Record (2004), another CD+DVD collection documenting the ‘Tour of the Mongoose’ in support of Laundry Service (both discs including Shakira’s rendition of AC/DC‘s 1980 anthem Back In Black). Given the nature of these releases, it is not surprising that they did not match Laundry Service‘s runaway sales, but still managed to make a reasonable showing in the singer’s various markets (although most strongly, of course, in the Latin market). During this period Shakira also began to expand her activities beyond the music industry, creating the Foundation Pies Descalzos to aid needy children in Colombia, and acting as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and the Colombian government.
A sixth studio album did not surface until 2005, but with a seventh, companion release appearing only a few months afterwards. Recorded with American producer Rick Rubin acting as executive producer, the dual release Fijación Oral 1 and Oral Fixation 2 featured contributions from prominent Latin performers such as guitarist Gustavo Cerati (of Soda Stereo) and pop artist Alejandro Sanz (who appears on Fijación‘s lead single La Tortura. As the titles suggest, the first volume includes songs primarily sung in Spanish, while the second contains English-language material; for both albums, the singer augmented her Latin/rock hybrid with styles ranging from Dancehall to New Wave to Bossa Nova. Despite its language content, the first volume managed to quickly insinuate itself into the top ten of many non-Spanish-speaking countries.
Father: William Mebarak Chadid (writer)
Mother: Nidia del Carmen Ripolli Torrado
Boyfriend: Osvaldo Rios (actor)
Boyfriend: Antonio de la Rúa (son of former Argentine President, together 2000-11)
Boyfriend: Gerard Piqué (Spanish soccer player, together since 2011, one son)
Son: Milan Piqué Mebarak (b. 22-Jan-2013)