Successful Album Sales
Shakira’s amazing music style could be described as both “unique” and “phenomenal” for drawing huge crowds in her concerts, as well as for her record-breaking album sales. Shakira often records her albums in live concerts rather than in studios, as she states that she is able to connect more to her listeners through live performances than studio recorded songs, because it better draws her heart out to the crowd.
For her contributions in the music industry, Shakira has received over a hundred nominations and has won over 50 awards, including two Grammys, six Billboards, seven Latin Grammys and 12 Latin Billboards. She is currently Colombia’s highest selling artist of all time and is also the most successful Latin female singer, after Gloria Estefan.
Aside from her massive popularity for being an award-winning singer and dancer, Shakira is also well-known for philanthropic efforts. She actively supports numerous charitable organizations and has also founded several of them, most notably the Pies Descalzos Foundation, Barefoot Foundation, and the ALAS Foundation. Shakira has spoken and performed at numerous charitable activities, such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Live 8 Benefit Concert, TED, and GCE’s Action Week.
Humble Beginnings: Early Biography
Shakira’s worldwide fame and fortune had humble beginnings. She was born on February 2, 1977 in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia—the only daughter of William Mebarak Chadid and Nidia Ripoll.
William is of Lebanese heritage. His parents’ hailed from Lebanon, who immigrated to America to avoid the war in their homeland. It was in New York City that William was born and was raised, eventually becoming a writer. Prior to meeting Nidia, William had eight children from a former marriage. Nidia, on the other hand, was born in Colombia to Spanish and Italian parents. Shakira’s Arabic and Latino heritage would play a great role in her music and dancing styles later on.
William and his family had a well-to-do life in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, something that Shakira would come to cherish as she grew up. In one instance, Shakira’s parents brought her in one of the poorest parts of the city and allowed her to witness the kind of life that most of the people had in that time. Seeing poverty-stricken people, she thought to herself, “I am never going to walk [past them] for the rest of my life.” From that time on, Shakira decided that she was going to be someone who had the resources that could not only improve her life, but the lives of other people around her.
Shakira would eventually find her way to fulfill her dream by her love of singing and dancing, but not before being exposed to poetry, which would later on help her write her own songs. As a young child, Shakira had always admired her father’s work; whenever William sat in front of his typewriter, Shakira would sit down right beside him and watch him write articles that he would contribute to the local publication.
A Young Poet and Entertainer
Shakira even asked her father to write a poem for her as a Christmas gift, to which William delightfully obliged. Shakira’s passion for poetry caused her to be able to write her very first poem entitled “La Rosa de Cristal” at the age of four, which greatly impressed not only his father but the teachers of her nursery school.
Sometime around the age of four, William brought Shakira with him to a local restaurant as a treat. This was where Shakira first heard the “doumbek” being played, and before she knew it, she found herself dancing to the wonderful sounds of the traditional drum, much to the amazement and delight of all the others in the restaurant, prompting them to join in. From that time on, Shakira’s desire for singing and dancing was born.
Shakira started performing for her schoolmates and teachers and every Friday she would dance in front of the school crowd, earning her the moniker “the belly dancer girl.” And although she was initially rejected for the school choir, it did not stop Shakira from pursuing her dream. Things got connected from here on, with Shakira promising herself that when she became famous, she would come back for the children and help them. Her passion for singing enabled her to write her first song at the age of eight, which made her somewhat of a prodigy for her talents.
By the age of ten, Shakira began performing at various events throughout Barranquilla, wherever she would be invited. A window of great opportunity opened when she was 13, after a local theatre producer named Monica Ariza witnessed Shakira’s performance at a club one time. Monica was greatly captured by Shakira’s enthusiasm and charisma that she decided to help the girl’s career.
Poetry Became Lyrics for the Magia Album
Monica invited Shakira to fly to Bogota and meet Ciro Vargas, an executive for Sony Colombia, for an audition. Upon hearing Shakira sing, Ciro became convinced by her potential and decided to send the cassette recording of Shakira’s performance to one of their artist directors. This, however, proved to be a disappointment, with the director being unimpressed with Shakira’s performance and even going so far as calling her a “lost cause.”
In spite of the discouraging remarks that were given by the artist director, Shakira remained optimistic and hopeful. Ciro saw this as an encouragement to keep on improving Shakira’s career, believing in the girl’s potential. He called several of his fellow executives at Sony Colombia and arranged a surprise audition for Shakira. After performing three songs, the executives were blown away by Shakira’s talent and got her to record three albums.
This event changed Shakira’s life forever. Her debut album entitled “Magia” was released in 1990. The album, which was a collection of songs that Shakira made since she was eight, did not fare well as it only sold 1,200 copies worldwide. In spite of this, Shakira was invited to perform at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Chile in 1993.
More Album, More Songs
The festival was a means of giving aspiring Latin American singers a chance to make themselves known through their songs; a panel of judges chose a winner who would then acquire a recording contract. During the festival, Shakira landed on the third spot after performing the song “Eres.”
After the disappointing performance of her debut album, Shakira did a recording for the release of her second album titled “Peligro” in 1993. Although her second album fared better than “Magda,” Shakira was still not impressed with the result due to issues with the production. Shakira refused to advertise her album because of this. She then took a break from recording to graduate from high school, after which she was invited to star in “The Oasis,” a TV series which resembled the Armero tragedy of 1985.
Shakira did not allow her disappointments to get in her way to success. In 1995, she collaborated with Sony Colombia to release her third album entitled “Pies Descalzos.” Prior to this, she released a minor album, “Nuestro Rock,” which gave Shakira a good start due to the popularity of the song “Donde Estas Corazon?” which was composed by Shakira herself.
The release of Pies Descalzos proved to be a success, landing the top spot in eight different countries. This was because the studio gave Shakira total control over the production, where she was able to produce her own music. She was inspired by the melodic and gritty tunes of many American alternative artists and British groups, which gave the Latin American community a breath of fresh air for hearing something they’ve never heard before.
Shakira’s album made it to various charts worldwide, becoming number five on the U.S. Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, but only making it to 180 on the U.S. Billboard 200. This number did not deter Shakira and she continued to develop her skills in performing. Shakira’s “Pies Descalzos” spawned various singles that topped the U.S. Latin charts and by 1996, the album became certified platinum.
Pies Descalzos Album became a Foundation
The following year, in 1996, Shakira began her very first international tour which she called the “Tour Pies Descalzos.” Ending in 1997, the tour consisted of 20 shows in different countries where Shakira was well received by her fans. She garnered multiple awards for her album, including the Best New Artist. By this time, “Pies Descalzos” had already reached the five million mark, which prompted Shakira to release a remix album of her most popular songs.
It was also in 1997 that Shakira finally realized her childhood dream of helping under-privileged kids—she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, an organization that focuses on funding special schools for poor children. Named after her first successful album, Pies Descalzos became a very successful charitable foundation and grew to have offices internationally.
Taking Inspiration after Losing a Suitcase Full of Lyrics
In 1998, Shakira met executive producer Emilio Estefan, Jr. and collaborated with him to work on her next album, “Donde Estan los Ladrones?” Shakira was inspired to produce the album after her suitcase, which was full of her written lyrics, was stolen in an airport.
Upon its release, “Donde Estan los Ladrones?” became a much greater hit than Pies Descalzos, numbering 131 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and becoming the top album at the U.S. Latin Albums chart for over ten weeks. The album sold over seven million copies, earning Shakira her biggest payday at that time. The following year, Shakira’s “Donde Estan los Ladrones?” was nominated for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album at the Grammy Awards.
Shakira released her first live album, “MTV Unplugged,” in 1999, which became a critical and financial success. In fact, it was her performance here that Shakira became inspired to do live albums due to “being able to perform better on stage than in a studio.” Her performance was highly acclaimed by numerous critics, calling it one of her most spectacular live performances. Because of this, she won numerous awards, including an MTV Video Music Award and two Grammy Awards.
Deciding Not to Marry
In 2000, Shakira met Antonio de la Rua, an Argentinian lawyer. After a few dates, the couple announced that they are living together, although they were not married. In an interview made with Shakira many years later, she stated how they didn’t need any papers for their relationship as it worked already like that of a married couple.
The Success of Whenever, Wherever
Shakira’s career started to boost further in 2000 upon the release of her single “Whenever, Wherever.” The song, which was heavily inspired by Andean music, became very successful internationally, landing the top spot in most countries worldwide. In fact, the song even landed number six on the Hot 100 charts in the United States.
The following year, in 2001, Shakira released her first English-Spanish crossover album entitled “Laundry Service,” which landed third at the U.S. Billboard 200. Selling over 20 million copies internationally, the album received a certification of triple platinum status from the RIAA by June. This album gave Shakira a powerful entry to the North American mainstream market and made her very famous with the common American folk. And although there were a number of criticisms made pertaining to Shakira’s English skills, it did not stop her and the album from becoming successful worldwide.
In 2002, Shakira performed with Aerosmith at their MTV Icon. She was also honoured to join well-known artists, such as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Cher at the VH1 Divas Live Las Vegas, which further shot her upward to success. The following years saw her receiving numerous awards, such as the Latin Grammies and MTV Video Music Awards. In 2003, Shakira started her international tour named “Tour of the Mongoose,” which became a very successful event. A live album commemorating her tour was released that year, entitled “Live & Off the Record.”
More Award-Winning Albums
The year 2005 saw the release of Shakira’s album entitled “Fijacion Oral Vol. 1,” in which Shakira featured Alejandro Sanz, a famous Spanish balladeer, for the album’s lead single “La Tortura.” Despite the low expectations, the album sold over 157,000 copies on its first week, becoming fourth at the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. It also earned numerous platinum certifications due to having sold so many copies worldwide.
The following year, Shakira won a Grammy and other awards for her album. The success of “Fijacion Oral Vol. 1” spawned a sequel album, entitled “Oral Fixation Vol. 2.” It was less successful than its predecessor and its lead single “Don’t Bother” failed to land a spot at the top 40 on the Hit 100 chart. In spite of this disappointment, Shakira became inspired to make two more singles that became worldwide hits: “Hips Don’t Lie”, which featured Haitian balladeer, Wyclef Jean, and “Illegal” featuring Carlos Santana.
That same year, Shakira went on to start the “Oral Fixation Tour,” which consisted of 125 shows that spanned all six continents. In 2007, Shakira was invited to perform for the first time at the Grammy Awards and was nominated for the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals alongside Wyclef Jean for the single “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Shakira also further actively participated in numerous charitable events, such as being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Carol Bellamy, UNICEF’s executive director, said of Shakira:
"Shakira, like all our Goodwill Ambassadors, was chosen based on her compassion, her involvement in global issues, her deep commitment to helping children, and her appeal to young people around the world. We're very pleased to have Shakira join the UNICEF family. I know she'll help bring UNICEF's mission to the audience who will have the most impact on our future – young people themselves."
In 2007, Shakira spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative and received a commitment from the government of Spain 40 million dollars for those who were affected by natural disasters. She has also participated in many of the events hosted by the ALAS Foundation, which she passionately supports for their commitment in helping the poor families rise up from poverty.
In the following years, Shakira collaborated with various popular artists such as Beyonce, Alejandro Sanz, and Miguel Bose to perform award-winning duets. Her duet with Beyonce entitled “Beautiful Liar” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and landed number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Throughout 2008 to 2011, Shakira’s career was at its peak, with Shakira getting contracts here and there. In 2008, Shakira signed a ten-year contract with Live Nation, one of the biggest touring companies in the world. She also signed a three-album contract with Epic Records, which encompassed an English, Spanish and compilation album.
She Wolf Success and Succeeding Albums
During the “We Are One” festivities which honored the inauguration of President Barack Obama in early 2009, Shakira performed with fellow singers Usher and Stevie Wonder on the song “Higher Ground.” A few months later, she performed the duet song “La Maza” with Mercedes Sosa, a famous Argentinian singer during the ALAS concert.
That same year, Shakira released her album entitled “She Wolf,” which topped music charts worldwide. The album became a commercial and critical success, earning numerous platinum certifications and selling over three million copies worldwide. “She Wolf” spawned numerous singles that received awards from different groups internationally.
In December 2009, Shakira was honored to speak at the University of Oxford, a platform she shared with international philanthropy giants, such as Mother Theresa, Albert Einstein, and the Dalai Lama XIV. During the event, she spoke to the audience about her efforts in helping the lives of children by giving them education. She said:
"That is how I want the youth of 2060 to see us: That our mission for global peace consisted of sending 30,000 educators to Afghanistan, not 30,000 soldiers. That in 2010, world education became more important than world domination."
In 2010, Shakira released “Sala el Sol,” her seventh studio album. After its release, “Sala el Sol” immediately took the number seven spot at the Billboard 200 chart and took the top spot at the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. The album’s lead single, “Loca,” became number one at various charts worldwide, causing the album to sell over one million within six weeks of its release.
Awards and Heartaches
Later that year, Shakira started “The Sun Comes Out World Tour,” which featured songs from her two latest albums. The tour received numerous positive reactions from many music critics worldwide, who praised the energy and the powerful stage presence of Shakira during her performances. Her success caused her to be honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year in 2011 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, with her performing the song “En Barranquilla Me Quedo.”
The year 2011 did bring a trying time in Shakira’s personal life, when she announced that she and Antonio de la Rua, whom she lived with for 11 years, separated after “making a mutual decision to take time apart from our romantic relationship.” Although she viewed the separation positively, seeing it as a means for them to grow individually, Antonio saw it the other way around and sued Shakira for 250 million dollars. This brought heartache to Shakira because aside from being her partner, Antonio was also her business manager. In spite of this great discouragement, Shakira moved forward with her life and put the disappointment behind her.
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Member
That same year, President Barack Obama made an announcement that he was appointing Shakira to become a member of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
In 2010, Shakira released her single “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” which earned praises from many critics worldwide. The single became the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and sold over one million copies worldwide in a short time.
Motherhood and Relationship Keep Her Going
In 2012, Shakira was invited to be a judge at the famous talent contest show “The Voice,” as substitute for Christina Aguilera. In the same year, Shakira announced that she was expecting a child with Gerard Pique, a popular center back for the Spanish football team, whom she was dating since 2011. The following year, in January 2013, Shakira gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Milan Pique I Mebarak.
Currently, Shakira actively participates in making new songs with her eighth studio album in the making. She also engages in many events of her philanthropic organizations, often speaking to various events to empower women and children and promote their welfare.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- ALAS Foundation
- Pies Descalzos
- Children’s Defense Fund
- CHOC Children’s
- Global Campaign for Education
- Habitat for Humanity
- Live Earth
- ONE Campaign
- Treatment Action Campaign
- Clinton Global Initiative
- The Prince’s Trust
- White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
- International Labor Organization
- Barefoot Foundation
Awards and Achievements
- 1998: Won the World Music Award for World Best Selling Latin Female Artist
- 1999: Nominated for the Best Latin Rock/Alternative Performance at the Grammy Awards (Donde Estan Los Ladrones?)
- 2001: Won the Best Latin Pop Album (MTV Unplugged)
- 2001: Nominated for Favorite Latin Artist at the American Music Awards
- 2002: Nominated for Favorite Latin Artist at the American Music Awards
- 2002: Won the ALMA Award for Outstanding Female Performer
- 2002: Won the ALMA Award for Album of the Year (Laundry Service)
- 2002: Nominated for Song of the Year at the ALMA Awards (Whenever, Wherever)
- 2002: Nominated for Top Pop Artist – Female Category at the Billboard Music Awards
- 2002: Nominated for Top Billboard 200 Female Album Artist at the Billboard Music Awards
- 2002: Nominated for Choice Music: Female Artist Category at the Teen Choice Awards
- 2003: Won the World Music Award for World Best Selling Latin Female Artist
- 2003: Nominated as the Favorite Latin Artist at the American Music Awards
- 2003: Won the Echo Award for Best International Female Artist
- 2003: Nominated for Best International Newcomer at the Echo Awards
- 2003: Nominated for Best International Single at the Echo Awards
- 2003: Nominated for International Album of the Year at the Juno Awards (Laundry Service)
- 2005: Nominated for World Best Selling Latin Female Artist at the World Music Awards
- 2005: Won the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Artist
- 2005: Won the Billboard Music Award for Latin Album of the Year (Fijacion Oral Vol. 1)
- 2005: Won the Billboard Music Award for Latin Song of the Year (La Tortura)
- 2005: Won the Billboard Music Award for Latin Album Artist of the Year (La Tortura)
- 2006: Won the World Music Award for World Best Selling Latin Female Artist
- 2006: Nominated for World’s Best Selling Pop Artist at the World Music Awards
- 2006: Won the Best Latin Rock Alternative Album (Fijacion Oral Vol. 1)
- 2006: Won the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Artist
- 2006: Won the ALMA Award for Outstanding Female Performer
- 2006: Won the ALMA Award for Album of the Year (Fijacion Oral Vol. 1)
- 2006: Nominated for Pop Single of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2006: Won the Billboard Music Award for Top Pop 100 Airplay Track (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2006: Nominated for Top Hot 100 Single at the Billboard Music Awards (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2006: Nominated for Top Billboard 200 Female Album Artist at the Billboard Music Awards
- 2006: Nominated for Best International Female Artist at the Echo Awards
- 2006: Honored at the U.N. Ceremony for founding the Pies Descalzos Foundation
- 2007: Nominated for World Best Selling Latin Female Artist at the World Music Awards
- 2007: Nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards (Despedida)
- 2007: Nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2007: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2007: Nominated for Best International Female Artist at the Echo Awards
- 2007: Nominated for Best International Single at the Echo Awards (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2007: Won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Pop Song (Hips Don’t Lie)
- 2007: Nominated for Favorite Female Artist at the People’s Choice Awards
- 2008: Nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (Beautiful Liar)
- 2008: Received the Humanitarian Award
- 2008: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Te Lo Agradezco Pero No)
- 2008: Nominated for Favorite R&B Song at the People’s Choice Awards (Beautiful Liar)
- 2008: Conferred the title of Honorary Chairperson by GCE during Action Week
- 2008: Named as the Fourth Highest-Earning Woman in Music by Forbes Magazine
- 2009: Named as the Humanitarian of the Year by People En Español Magazine
- 2009: Included in OK! Magazine’s Top 50 Most Charitable Celebrities
- 2009: Honored as a speaker at the University of Oxford
- 2009: Won the Bambi Award for International Pop Artist
- 2010: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Loba)
- 2010: Won the Bambi Award for International Pop Artist
- 2010: Won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Music Video (Waka Waka)
- 2010: Nominated for Choice Music: Female Artist Category at the Teen Choice Awards
- 2010: Won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Others: Activist
- 2010: Won the World Music Award for World's Best Selling Latin American Artist
- 2010: Awarded a Medal of Recognition by the U.N. International Labor Organization
- 2011: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Gitana)
- 2011: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Lo Hecho Esta Hecho)
- 2011: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Waka Waka)
- 2011: Nominated for Best Female Artist in Music at the ALMA Awards
- 2011: Nominated for Top Latin Song at the Billboard Music Awards (Gypsy)
- 2011: Nominated for Top Latin Song at the Billboard Music Awards (Loca featuring El Cata)
- 2011: Nominated for Top Streaming Artist at the Billboard Music Awards
- 2011: Won the Billboard Music Award for Top Latin Artist
- 2011: Nominated for the Fan Favorite Award at the Billboard Music Awards
- 2011: Won the Billboard Music Award for Top Latin Song (Waka Waka)
- 2011: Nominated for the Top Latin Album at the Billboard Music Awards (Sala el Sol)
- 2011: Nominated for Best International Female Artist at the Echo Awards
- 2011: Nominated for Hit Song of the Year at the Echo Awards (Waka Waka)
- 2011: Won the Swiss Music Award for Best International Hit (Waka Waka)
- 2012: Won the Billboard Music Award for Top Latin Artist
- 2012: Nominated for the Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards
- 2012: Won the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Artist
- 2012: Won the ASCAP Latin Award for Pop/Ballad Winning Song (Rabiosa)
- 2012: Honored with the Chevalier De L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
- 2011: Honorary Doctorate from Harvard University