Shakira is easily one of the most successful and recognizable musicians of the 21st century. Ever since she made her debut in 1993, she has gone on to amass a legion of fans, and sell tens of millions of records, with her distinctly-unique voice. The Colombian powerhouse has also wowed many with her unbelievable dancing skills which defy scientific explanation.
However, before all the fame and fortune, the singer was just a young girl with a passion for performing. She sought avenues to share her talents but was turned back at every turn. She, however, refused to despair and took to singing for the pleasure of anybody who would want to listen. Shakira also took to imbibing the dance styles of her ‘ancestors’ and what we have today is an iconic musician who has blessed humanity immeasurably.
A Passion That Was Inspired And Nurtured By Her Father
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on the 2nd of February 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia, as the only child of William Mebarak Chadid and Nidia Ripoll Torrado. Her paternal grandparents were Lebanese and as such, she was given the name, Shakira, which means “grateful” in Arabic. The singer’s grandparents originally immigrated to the United States from their home country. They later moved to Columbia and as such, their son and his progeny came to regard it as their motherland.
The eccentric dancer had a Catholic upbringing and attended schools run by the church. She also has eight older half-siblings from her father’s previous marriage and spent most of her youthful days in Barranquilla, located on the northern Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Growing up, the young girl was fascinated with her father’s stories which he personally wrote using typewriters.
At the age of four, she wrote her first poem titled, “La Rosa De Cristal/The Crystal Rose” and requested a typewriter from her father which she got as a Christmas present. Later, her poems would evolve into songs, and her very first song was inspired by her father’s dark glasses (which he used to hide his grief). She named it “Tus gafas oscuras/Your dark glasses.”
Whilst honing her skills as a lyricist, Shakira also learned how to belly dance after her father took her to a restaurant owned by Arabians and she heard Arabic music as well as the traditional drums used in creating indigenous sound. The young girl also tried to improve her singing by joining a choir group in school but was rejected because she had quite a high vibrato which made her sound like a goat.
Shakira’s Journey to the Pinnacle of the Music World
Despite the rejection, Shakira continued singing with every chance she got and by the age of 10, she started getting invitations to perform at various event spots in her town. During one of such outings, she caught the attention of Monica Ariza, a local theatre producer, who decided to help her launch a proper music career. Monica pitched the idea of signing her to Sony Colombia executive, Ciro Vargas, however, the song and artist director at Sony wasn’t too excited about her after listening to her demos.
Notwithstanding this initial negative response, Vargas, convinced of her ward’s talent, set up a surprise audition for more executives at Sony to watch her perform. After performing three of her songs, the executives were convinced and therefore signed her to produce three albums. The young girl immediately got to work and dropped her first three albums, – Magia (1991), Peligro (1993), and Pies Descalzos (1995). The first two recorded an abysmal performance but the third one spurned six hit singles. It also charted on the Billboard Latin album charts and made the singer a household name.
Given the success of her third album, one would have thought that it would be smooth sailing for Shakira from that point upwards. It, however, turned out to be the opposite as her career suffered a blow after a bag containing several proposed songs was stolen. The development devastated the singer but she stayed strong and instead of self-destructing, poured her anguish into her music. This resulted in a phenomenal fourth album, Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (1998), which went on to sell 7 million copies.
Since then, Shakira has successfully transitioned to English language music and has become an unstoppable force in the music world. Her first English album, Laundry Service, was the bestselling album of the year 2002, having sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Other albums that have followed, including Oral Fixation, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2005), She Wolf (2009, Sale el Sol (2010), Shakira (2014) and, El Dorado (2017), have equally been successfully and the Columbian hottie has sold about 75 million records. she has also has performed at notable events including the FIFA World Cup and the Super Bowl – in 2010 and 2020 respectively.
The Legal Battle With her Ex-Boyfriend-cum-Manager
The Hips Don’t Lie crooner hasn’t been in a whole lot of relationships but the few she has been in were long-term. She was in an 11-year romance with Antonio de la Rúa, who is a lawyer as well as the son of former Argentinean president, Fernando de la Rúa. The relationship began in 2000 and they remained together for the next 11 years during which their love blossomed. Antonio also started managing aspects of his girl’s career and many wondered if they would solemnize their union.
The singer, however, stated that everything was fine and they didn’t see the need for any document to validate their union. That illusion of being fine was however shattered after the pair separated in August 2010. They initially released a joint statement which created the impression that the split was amicable and that they would continue their flourishing business partnership. This, however, turned out not to be the case as Antonio later slapped multiple lawsuits, in California, New York, and Geneva, against his ex, demanding millions of dollars in compensation.
The lawyer basically claimed that he was the architect of his ex-girlfriend’s successful albums as well as juicy endorsement deals and should, therefore, be paid a reasonable sum for terminating his services as her business manager. Shakira and her lawyers, of course, challenged this and the court later gave judgment in their favor. This brought the singer much joy and she was able to move on with her life.
Shakira’s Personal Life And Relationship With Gerard Piqué
The whole experience with Antonio may have left a bad taste in Shakira’s mouth but it hasn’t stopped her from opening up her heart again. The Grammy-winning singer is now in a solid relationship with a Spanish football player, Gerard Piqué. The F.C. Barcelona center back who plays for the Spanish national team has won multiple trophies including the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the La Liga.
Shakira and Piqué first met each in the spring of 2010 when the defender appeared in the music video for her official World Cup song, Waka Waka. They became good friends and it eventually snowballed into a romance in 2011. The couple has been together to date and it is interesting to note that the singer is 10 years older than her boyfriend and they both share the same birthday – February 2nd. The couple has two lovely children together. Their first son, named Milan Piqué Mebarak, was born on 22nd of January 2013, while their second son, Sasha Piqué Mebarak, came on the 29th of January 2015.