Shakira Mebarak Ripoll was born in the port city of Barranquilla, (in northern Colombia), on February 2, 1977. She is the daughter of a Lebanese- American, Mebarak Chadid, and his Colombian wife, (of Spanish-Italian stock, named Nidya Del Carmen Ripoll). Her genealogy ensured a multicultural inheritance. And her first name, Shakira, is an old Arabic connotation for: ‘being thankful'.
She was noted for being clever as a youngster, and loved to sing for her friends and schoolmates (in Barranquilla, where she grew-up). She started receiving local invitations for song events at the age of ten: despite the fact that her vibrato remained a bit strong. Initial breakthrough came in 1990, when as a thirteen year-old, Sony Music signed and released her first album titled "Magia" (i.e. the Spanish word for ‘Magic'). Some local radio stations spiritedly aired and promoted the album. However, only a little over a thousand copies sold. The launch was unsuccessful. 1993 saw her make another unsuccessful bid with the album titled "Peligro" (i.e. Spanish word for ‘Danger'). Disappointed and frustrated, the young dame decided to go back to school. Shakira got a stint with acting, while still in High School, and became a regular face in "The Oasis",( a popular TV series in Columbia).
By 1995, a patient Sony Music put up a proposal, which was aimed at giving Shakira a third attempt to prove that she can draw attention. And with good assistance from Luis Ochoa this time around, she recorded "Pies Descalzos" (i.e. bare feet in English). This album, which was released internationally in early 1996, instantly topped charts in eight countries. On seeing this, Sony Music which had limited the grants it offered Shakira, (due to her previous failures), rushed to the bank for extra investible resources. Just six months after its release, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) awarded it Platinum. Although millions of copies of "Pies Descalzos" were sold, it also became a source of a very sad and unfortunate incident. During Shakira's concert in her native Barranquilla, the euphoric mammoth crowd (in attendance) was so wild with excitement that it quickly went out of control. As a result, several fans were either wounded or trampled to death in the ugly stampede that ensued.
Despite the calamity that tainted it, "Pies Descalzos" brought Shakira the much-needed international recognition. It also enriched her in terms of materials and honors. She quickly became a household name in many countries (but especially in Brazil and other parts of South America ).
Basking in her newly-found fame, Shakira self-produced her fourth album, which she titled "Donde Estan Los Ladrones?" (i.e. translates to "Where Are The Thieves?" in English). This one sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone, (and over 10 million copies worldwide). Both Rolling Stone and All Music Guide awarded it 4.5 Stars out of a possible 5 Stars. Shakira won two Grammys with it; and the door opened for subsequent honors and MTV Unplugged live performances.
Other internationally acclaimed hits like, "Whenever, Wherever" and "Laundry Service" followed in early 2000s. A number of other hits and chart toppers have as well been released. Shakira has since made her mark and has earned her accolades. She has performed with a number of other artists including Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Anastacia, and Beyonce.
Shakira is also a good dancer, and has always grabbed the opportunity to dazzle both concert fans and music video buffs with her tantalizing waist dance. In fact, at a point during one of her Euro-concerts, I began to wonder what the ultra conservative Hezbollah (in her patrilineal Lebanon) would make of her dance moves. Surely, Mullahs and Ayatollahs must be gnashing their teeth in disbelief: seeing their own flesh and blood swinging hips like that.
Well, I love ya Shakira; but I won't be the one to remind Mullahs that "hips don't lie". Al-Salamaleku!
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