Growing up in Barranquilla, Columbia, Shakira’s father made it a point to show Shakira how children who had less lived.  They often took walks and discussed this. He wanted to instill a sense of gratitude in his daughter for all that she had. This was something that was also learned through the Catholic Church.

Out of a sense of need and gratitude, Shakira created the “Barefoot Foundation” in Columbia in 1997.  The goal of this charity is to make sure that every displaced child gets an education, as is their right.  There has been a lot of war in Columbia (drug and civil) and it has created the need for schools that specialize in helping displaced children and families.  These displaced children don’t have the luxury of a stable home life, a secure source of food or a place to call their own and feel safe in. They need a constant in their lives, and the Barefoot Foundation provides it through education and hope.  At this time the Barefoot foundation has provided meals and educations for more than 30,000 children.

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In 2004, the Foundation’s work built two schools in Shakira’s home town.  Her home town of Barranquilla had seen an influx of displaced people.  The children were in need and Shakira was there with her foundation.

The Barefoot Foundation has created many school in many areas of Columbia. To help both the children and the parents, the Foundation has set up cafeterias for the children that are staffed by the parents.  The Barefoot Foundation and Shakira have given many displaced children and families hope.  She has shown them someone cares.

The Barefoot Foundation is a charity that is funded by Shakira and some international companies that are ahead of their time in regards to their social obligations.

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As part of her work with the Barefoot Foundation, Shakira has lobbied Governments and business to invest in early childhood development.  The idea that education began at conception is not lost on her.  She has seen firsthand how education from a young age can be the difference between success and failure, and sometime even between life and death.  Education isn’t all about book learning.  Her foundation also teaches life skills, basic hygiene, communication, and how to have fun.  As her journey in activism has advanced, Shakira has used her time in the public eye to educate not only displaced children, but also the people of the world.  Her work has brought this problem to the forefront in South America and neighboring Countries, and put both Government and businesses on notice about taking care of their obligations.

Shakira’s vision is to help every displaced child.  By doing this she believes that in time, her country and others will find a way to be peaceful, and for its people to become successful.  Educated people can lead the country and make improvements.  But if we keep a generation of children uneducated, there will be no people to talk of peace or move us forward.

I can only imagine that since the birth of her two sons, Shakira’s desire to help these children has only increased. It must have become more personal.  Her two boys have a great role model to look up to.  Hopefully they follow in her shoes.  I see growth and good things in the future for the Barefoot Foundation.  With Shakira behind them, anything is possible!


The Early Years of Shakira

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.


Shakira’s Vast Accomplishments

Since starting her career in 1990, Shakira has done everything from writing and producing her own music, acted on South American TV, and appeared on The Voice for two seasons of American TV.  I have already highlighted her humanitarian work, so her is some of her highlights of her artistic endeavors.

  • In her career, Shakira has been nominated for some 300 music awards worldwide and has won 250 times.
  • It started in 1997 with the Billboard Latin Music Awards for her album Pies Descalzos.  Best Pop Album, Best Video and Best New Artist are all awards she won that year.


  • Shakira has had a long run on the Billboard Latin Music Awards.  Her last awards were just this year for Social Artist of the Year, and Hot Latin Artist of the Year Female. Social Artist of the Year?  What?  Oh, so it seems that Shakira got that award because of her presence on social media.  Hmmm, who knew there was such a thing?
  • In 2014 Shakira became the most liked person on Facebook with over 100 MILLION likes!   She actually set a Guinness World Record for that.
  • Did I mention that Shakira is the number one selling Colombian Artist ever!  She has sold over 60 million albums worldwide during her career.
  • She is second behind Gloria Estefan as the most successful female singer of Latin descent.
  • Nielsen Broadcast Data Service states that “Hips Don’t Lie” was played 9,637 times in one week.


  • Shakira was the first artist in Billboard history to earn #1 spots on the Mainstream and Latin Charts for “Hips Don’t Lie.”
  • In 2010 Shakira wrote and performed Waka Waka (Time for Africa), the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The video for Waka Waka premiered on June 6, 2010.  It was the first time Sony released a three D Video.
  • She became a YouTube sensation for “Waka Waka” with over 550 MILLION views. The only artists ahead of her are Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber.


  • In October 2011, President Obama appointed Shakira to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
  • In 2012 Shakira appeared for the first time on The Voice as a coach.  She returned in 2014 just in time to get some publicity before the release of her album “Shakira” her tenth studio album
  •  In 2014 Shakira won the Radio Disney Hero Award.  This award is based on charitable work and is won by popular vote.  So even Disney kids know Shakira is a hero.

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  • Made Yahoo’s annual list of Popular Search Terms in 2006 at the 3rd spot.
  • Received the honor of Best Female Pop Album at Globo Awards for two times which were in 1999 and 2001.
  • Shakira has been nominated for 7 ASCAP awards for her song writing and has won each time.

I could go on and on about Shakira’s awards and accomplishments. She has so many awards from so many different countries!  Her work as an artist and philanthropist in South America is well documented.  And her reach into the rest of the world has been phenomenal also.  And the song writing awards…Not too bad for a little girl growing up poor in Columbia watching her Daddy type out stories and songs.