Shakira - performing live in Switzerland 11-30-10
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Colombian singer and composer
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, 2 February 1977, Barranquilla, Colombia. This Colombian singer first broke into the Latin Music charts in 1995, and has since established herself as a crossover star with a groundbreaking blend of pop and rock styles. The daughter of a Colombian mother and a Lebanese father, her name means "woman full of grace" in Arabic.
Shakira left her family home at the age of 13 to pursue a modelling career in Bogotá, but ended up signing a recording contract with Sony Records. She released her debut album in 1991, but despite indicating a precocious talent (all the tracks were self-written) neither this nor the follow-up Peligro enjoyed much commercial success.
Shakira returned to high school before branching out into acting, appearing on the Colombian soap-opera El Oasis. She released her breakthrough album, the rock-orientated Pies Descalzos, in 1996. The album was buoyed by the chart-topping success of the singles "Estoy Aqui" and "Dónde Estás Corazón?", and went on to top the album charts in several Latin countries. The follow-up Dónde Están Los Ladrones? and an MTV Unplugged recording session were equally successful, and in 2000 Shakira won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance ("Ojos Asi") at the inaugural Latin Grammy Awards. The following year's Laundry Service, her first album to include English language songs, affirmed the singer's superstar status when it broke into the Top 5 of the mainstream US pop chart. The album went on to enjoy international acclaim, buoyed by the huge commercial success of the singles "Whenever, Wherever" and "Underneath Your Clothes".