Shakira was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her Father is of Lebanese decent and her Mother is of Spanish and Italian decent. Shakira has referred to herself as a “mutt”. Her diverse family background has shown up not only in her appearance, but also in her music. Shakira has honored her Arabic background along with local Colombian sounds often in her early work.
Shakira is the only child born of her parents. Her father did have 8 children from a former marriage. She was not brought up as an only child, her step siblings were a part of her daily life. The loss of a half-brother at an early age shaped her song writing. She was able to express the emotions she saw her father go through by writing songs about it.
It is apparent that Shakira got her passion for writing from her father. She has made frequent reference to watching her day type stories and songs on a typewriter when she was little. I can just imagine a little Shakira sitting by her dad, watching him type like it was magic. At the tender age of four Shakira wrote her first poem. Soon after she was given a typewriter of her own for Christmas. This must have made things so much easier. Her song writing career started at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped since!
The Catholic Church played a large part in Shakira’s youth. She was raised in the Church and attended Catholic schools. However, it appears that her voice wasn’t quite what her school chorus was looking for in second grade. The Director said her voice was similar to a goat’s! Around the same time her Father had started to introduce her to Arabic music and she discovered belly dancing.
Now we know where her dance skills came from. Shakira performed locally from the ages of 10 to 12. Although a local success, she had not caught the attention of any of the recording companies, yet.
Shakira, by the age of 13 had a recording career, although with limited success. Her first two albums were Spanish language, and didn’t make much of a positive impact on the music industry. Shakira refused to promote her second album Peligro, because she felt the production of it wasn’t good. Shortly thereafter she appeared on a telanovella for a year. Then, in a wise decision, she left Colombian TV to focus on High school.
Shakira returned to the music industry and Sony in 1995. Her next album, Pies Descalzon, was recorded in 1995. Because of how she didn’t care for the production on Peligro this album marks the first time Shakira produced her own music. From the lyrical content to the music itself, it was different. And it showed. In most overseas markets this album went number 1.
November 2001 marked the release of Dirty Laundry. This was Shakira’s first English language album and fifth album overall. By this time Shakira was working with Emilo Estaban Jr. This album became the BEST SELLING ALBUM OF 2002!!! Even if some critics called her voice and lyrics “silly.”
So far pretty impressive I’d say. Next up, her desire to educate poor children.