Shakira Public Domain. Photo of Shakira at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C.

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2, 1977. She is also of Lebanese heritage through her father’s side of the family. Shakira began writing songs when she was just eight years old and released her first album, Magia, at the age of 13. As a teenager, she went on to release Peligro and Pies Descalzos. At 18 years old, Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health, nutrition and education of children in Colombia.

In 1997, Shakira moved to Miami, Florida, to teach herself how to sing and write songs in English. She sought out Emilio Estefan, who became her manager and producer. Her breakthrough album, Laundry Service (2001), was her first English-language crossover, with half of the songs in English and half in her native Spanish. This album contained her first Top 10 hit, “Whenever, Wherever.” Shakira also became well-known for her dancing, which draws on both her Lebanese and Colombian roots.  

The awards began pouring in, including three Grammy Awards for Best Latin Pop Album for Shakira-MTV Unplugged (2000) and El Dorado (2017) and Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album for Fijación Oral Vol. 1 (2005). Shakira was given the honor of writing the official 2010 FIFA World Cup song, entitled “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).” The following year, the Latin Recording Academy named Shakira their Person of the Year. A portion of the gala proceeds benefited her Pies Descalzos Foundation. In 2014, she was named on Forbes’s The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Shakira continues to build her humanitarian work in the United States and Colombia. She has served as both a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and on President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Her work mainly focuses on early childhood development of children who are not yet in school, and her Pies Descalzos Foundation still operates in Colombia.

Shakira also continues to tour around the world and create new music. In February 2020, she performed in the Super Bowl Halftime Show alongside Jennifer Lopez at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. She still maintains a home in Miami, Florida.

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