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You’re in a sweaty nightclub, a dark bar, a packed bus or a local restaurant—and if the music is blasting, you’re likely to hear singer-songwriter Shakira, the most successful Colombian musician of all time. Known for her unique vocals, passionate lyrics and sensual belly-dance moves, Shakira is a global phenomenon.

Born in Barranquilla to parents of Colombian and Lebanese descent, Shakira began her professional singing career at age 13. After creating two commercially unsuccessful albums at a young age, Shakira released Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) in 1996. Pies Descalzos, which sold over three million copies, featured Shakira’s now signature style—a blend of Latin, Arabic and rock influences—and marked her arrival to the Latin music scene. Major singles off that album include: “Estoy Aquí”; “Dónde Estás Corazón?”; “Antología”; “Pienso en Ti”; “Un Pocode Amor” and “Se Quiere, Se Mata.” During this time, Shakira also founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation to help impoverished children in Colombia (

Her 1998 follow-up record, Dónde Están Los Ladrones?(Where Are the Thieves?) was an even bigger global success. Songs such as “Ciega, Sormuda,” “Tú” and especially the heavily Arabic-influenced, Grammy-winning “Ojos Asi” led Shakira to the top of the Billboard’s Latin album chart, paving the way for her explosion on the American music market.

Upon enlisting Emilio Estefan (Gloria Estefan’s husband) as her manager and producer, dying her hair blonde and playing up her sex appeal, Shakira moved to Miami to create her first English-language album, Laundry Service, in 2001. This album was an instant success, entering the U.S. pop charts at number three and selling over 200,000 copies in the first week. Hugely popular singles off this album include the hip-shaking “Whenever, Wherever” and the soulful “Underneath Your Clothes.”

After an extensive tour of Laundry Service, the next few years were spent working on two albums simultaneously. The Spanish-language Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1 won her a second Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album. The English-language Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, featuring her immensely popular collaboration with Wyclef Jean, “Hips Don’t Lie,” shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and became the most played song in pop-radio history during the summer of 2006. Shakira’s sixth studio album She Wolf was released at the end of 2009 and was closely followed by her seventh studio album Sale el Sol released in October 2010.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Colombia: Cumbia, Colombian Culture: Cinema, Colombian Culture: Dance, Colombian Culture: Art, Colombian Culture: Literature, Colombian Culture: Museums, Colombian Culture: Theater, Colombian Culture: Comedy, Colombian Culture: An Introduction and Colombian Culture: Music.

By Nili Larish
I'm a reader, a writer, and a traveler, the kind of gal who likes to get as filthy as possibly on a camping trip, and then spend hours in the bathtub...
27 Sep 2011

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