Shakira Biography: The Rise and Resilience of Shakira’s Extraordinary Career

Shakira was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia to parents Nidia Ripoll and William Mebarak Chadid. Her father was born in New York to Lebanese parents and her mother was a native Colombian.

Family and Ancestry

Shakira comes from a family of Middle Eastern descent. On her father’s side, her grandparents emigrated from Lebanon to New York City where her father was born. Her name Shakira means “grateful” in Arabic.

On her mother’s side, she has Spanish and Italian ancestry. Her maternal grandmother was from Catalonia, Spain while her maternal grandfather was born in Milan, Italy. This diverse ancestral background exposed Shakira to a wide array of cultures and music genres from an early age.

Early Interests and Talent

From the age of two, Shakira showed a strong aptitude for performing and an early talent for dancing and singing. She was able to recognize and recreate intricate dance moves she saw on television. Her father encouraged her interest by arranging for Middle Eastern belly dancers to perform at family gatherings.

By age four, Shakira wrote her first poem titled “La Rosa De Cristal” (“The Crystal Rose”) which she recited at her school’s honor assembly. This demonstrated her early propensity for poetry and songwriting.

Challenges as a Child

Despite her talents, Shakira had a difficult childhood. She was often teased and rejected by her classmates for her Lebanese heritage and was frequently banned by teachers for being too disruptive and hyperactive. She also struggled academically due to what would later be diagnosed as ADHD.

However, Shakira found solace in music, saying “music saved my life”. She has said that listening to songs and being able to express herself creatively got her through her most painful memories of childhood.

Career Beginnings and Breakthroughs

Shakira’s professional career began at a very early age and rapidly progressed from local performances to the international stage by her late teens.

Signing First Record Deal at 13

When she was only ten years old, Shakira signed a record deal with Sony Music and released her debut studio album “Magia” at only 13 years old in 1990. Though it did not sell well, it marked the beginning of her career.

Shakira’s Studio AlbumsYear Released
Pies Descalzos1995
Dónde Están los Ladrones?1998
Laundry Service2001

Shakira took a break from recording to focus on finishing high school. This early taste of fame gave her experience on how to better manage her budding career.

Hit Latin Pop albums

At age 18, Shakira released her second album “Peligro” in 1993 which contained her first major hit “Estoy Aqui”.

Her third album “Pies Descalzos” released in 1995 cemented her status as a rising star in Latin America. Five of its singles reached number one on the U.S. Latin chart including “Estoy Aqui”, “Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos” and “¿Dónde Estás Corazón?”.

English Career Crossover with “Laundry Service”

In 2001, Shakira made her highly-anticipated English language debut with the album “Laundry Service” which included the global smash hit “Whenever, Wherever” and established her crossover appeal in the English market. She performed “Whenever, Wherever” for the first time at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2001, cementing her place as an international pop icon.

“Laundry Service” became the highest selling debut album of all time by a Colombian artist with over 13 million records sold worldwide.

Continued Global Success in Music

Following the breakthrough of “Laundry Service”, Shakira continued releasing chart-topping albums across both Latin and mainstream international markets throughout the 2000s and 2010s.

Pop Stardom

In 2005, Shakira released “Fijación Oral Vol. 1”, a Spanish language album aimed at the Latin American market followed by the English language “Oral Fixation Vol. 2”. Lead singles “La Tortura” and “Hips Don’t Lie” featuring Wyclef Jean respectively became international number one hits.

“Hips Don’t Lie” became Shakira’s signature song selling over 18 million copies worldwide. At the time, it was the highest selling single of the 21st century with over 17 million copies sold.

In 2010, “Sale el Sol” made Shakira the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time with a then career sales total of 60 million records worldwide.

In 2014, Shakira released her tenth studio album, the bilingual “Shakira” featuring world dance hits “Can’t Remember to Forget You” and “Dare (La, La, La)”.

In 2022, she released the Latin Grammy Award winning reggaeton dance album “Te Felicito” with Rauw Alejandro.


In addition to hugely popular collaborations with Wyclef Jean and Rauw Alejandro, Shakira has frequently collaborated with other high-profile artists across genres:

  • Beyoncé: “Beautiful Liar” in 2006
  • The Black Eyed Peas: “Girl Like Me” in 2009
  • Shakira sang the 2010 FIFA World Cup anthem “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” with the South African band Freshlyground
  • Carlos Santana: “Illegal” in 2011
  • Rihanna: “Can’t Remember to Forget You” in 2014

Live Performances

Shakira is renowned for her energetic live concerts and stellar performance abilities, including her ability to sing while effortlessly belly dancing or playing instruments like guitar and harmonica.

Major performances include:

  • 2006 MTV Awards Opening Act
  • Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show with Jennifer Lopez in 2020
  • 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony

Shakira’s Legacy

With over 80 million records sold globally, Shakira rose meteorically from her humble beginnings in Barranquilla, Colombia to become the Queen of Latin Pop and one of the most legendary artists of her time.

Forbes named her among the 40 highest-paid celebrities in 2014. As of 2022, she is one of only three female artists among the Top 10 Highest Selling Latin Artists of All Time along with Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

In addition to her musical legacy, Shakira became a global icon admired for her unique belly dancing-inspired choreography, trend-setting fashion that celebrates her Middle Eastern and Latin roots, phenomenal live concert performances, and her crossover musical appeal between both Hispanic and mainstream international audiences.

Philanthropy and Activism

Shakira is heavily involved in activism especially for vulnerable children. She founded her NGO Pies Descalzos Foundation in 1997 to aid underprivileged children in Colombia through education.

She served as an advisor on Early Childhood Development to the World Bank, is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and frequently campaigns globally for quality education and school access for all children.

She also uses her platforms to advocate for women’s rights, environmental conservation, and economic justice causes around the world.

Shakira’s Personal Life

Shakira entered into a high profile relationship with Gerard Piqué, center back of FC Barcelona and the Spanish football team in 2011. They have two sons together:

  • Milan Piqué Mebarak, born 2013
  • Sasha Piqué Mebarak, born 2015

However, Shakira and Gerard separated in 2022 after 11 years together though details were not revealed to the public. They continue co-parenting their children.

Homes and Lifestyle

Though she spent most of her childhood in bare bones surroundings in Colombia, Shakira now splits her time living an affluent lifestyle between luxury homes in Barcelona, Spain and Miami, Florida with her family.

Unique features of her waterfront Miami mansion which she bought in 2001 include:

  • Private deep water dock
  • Recording studio
  • Tower library with secret door
  • Outdoor mini rock wall

Net Worth

In 2022, Celebrity Net Worth estimated Shakira’s net worth at approximately $300 million dollars making her one of the richest singers worldwide.

Her income comes from music sales, streaming royalties, concert revenue, luxury brand sponsorships, and she has her own range of beauty products and fragrances.


In summary, Shakira’s life story is one of passion, talent, and determination. From very modest beginnings growing up in Colombia, she overcame numerous challenges during her childhood. However, her natural musical gift and relentless drive to succeed ultimately transformed her into the global superstar she is today.

With her unique vocal abilities, captivating dance moves, record-breaking album sales, iconic hits like “Hips Don’t Lie”, world tours that cement her reputation as an incredible live performer, and her crossover appeal between both Hispanic and mainstream audiences, Shakira earned her place as the most legendary Latin pop artist in recent history.

While she carved an unforgettable space in music history and popular culture, Shakira also used her platform and resources for good. Her philanthropic Pies Descalzos Foundation provided education to poor children in Colombia for decades. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and activist, she consistently advocates for children’s rights globally.

At only 45 years of age, Shakira’s musical legacy is already set in stone. With continued fervor to use her voice for vulnerable children and release upbeat hits that get the entire world dancing, she shows no signs of slowing down. As she continues breaking boundaries in the 2020s and beyond, her iconic career will continue inspiring generations to come.

FAQs About Shakira

How many languages does Shakira speak?

Shakira speaks four languages fluently: Spanish, English, Portuguese, and some Arabic.

What is Shakira’s vocal range?

Shakira has an unusual contralto vocal range that allows her to sing unconventionally high notes with vibrato perfection. This unique voice is her musical trademark.

Has Shakira won any Grammy Awards?

Shakira has been nominated for 10 Grammys, winning 3 awards to date:

  • 2006 Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album for “Fijación Oral Vol. 1”
  • 2010 Best Female Pop Vocal Album for “She Wolf”
  • 2022 Best Latin Pop Album for “Te Felicito”

How did Shakira get started as an activist for children?

After achieving musical success, Shakira wanted to improve the lives of underprivileged children in Colombia like those she grew up with. At age 18, she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation focused on nutrition, education, and providing abused or abandoned children a loving home. This launched her decades-long commitment to helping vulnerable children through philanthropy and activism.

Is Shakira married?

No, as of 2022 Shakira has never been married though she was in a long term relationship with Spanish football player Gerard Pique for over 10 years which ended in 2022. They have 2 children together and continue co-parenting.