Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripol, born on February 2, 1977, is a Colombian singer-songwriter widely known as Shakira. She emerged in the music world of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s. Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira began performing in school, demonstrating her vocal ability with rock and roll, Latin and Arabic influences with her own original twist on belly dancing. Besides being a native Spanish speaker, Shakira also speaks fluent English and Portuguese as well as some Italian, French, Catalan and Arabic.

Initially Shakira’s first two albums had poor commercial reception with local producers, and being little-known outside Colombia, she decided to produce her own brand of music. In 1995 the release of Pies Descalzos brought her great fame in Latin America and Spain, and her 1998 album Dónde Están los Ladrones? sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 2001 the worldwide success of her first English single "Whenever, Wherever" that became the best selling single of 2002, helped her break through into the English-speaking world with the release of Laundry Service, which sold over 13 million copies around the world. Four years later, Shakira’s success increased with the release of two album projects called Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2 particularly with the best selling song of the 2000s, "Hips Don't Lie".

In 1995, at the age of 18, Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) Foundation - Colombian charity with special schools for poor children all around Colombia. Among the great number of benefit concerts that Shakira has performed at during her career, the most famous are the Live 8 benefit concert in July 2005, the Live Earth concert, Hamburg where she headlined the show, as well as the "Clinton Global Initiative" created by former US President Bill Clinton. Her performance was a highlight of the concert celebrating President Obama's inauguration in 2009. In February 2010 she was also invited by Barack Obama to the Oval Office, where early childhood development was discussed.

Shakira is the winner of two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, twelve Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been nominated on “Golden Globe”. Having sold over 70 million albums worldwide, Shakira is also the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, and the second most successful female Latin singer behind Gloria Estefan. Her U.S. album sales stand at 9.9 million. In the fall of 2009, Shakira released her sixth studio album She Wolf, which gained a lot of critical praise for her eccentricity and writing skills. The album sold roughly 2 million copies around the world. Shakira's "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", was chosen as the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song has become the biggest selling World Cup song of all time. With over 441 million views on YouTube, the English version of the music video is the 4th most watched video of all time. In October 2010, she released her seventh studio album, the bilingual Sale el Sol in which has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. With the album she gained back her Latin following, which Shakira said was the main goal for the album.


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