From her curly blonde locks to her firmly planted feet, she's an entertainer. What began at an early age has led to the performance of a lifetime on arguably one of the largest and most influential stages in the world. She has wowed fans world-wide and does not seem in any position to quit. But how has all of this come about? Let's take a look at the life, times, and accomplishments of Shakira.

Let me see you move like you come from Colombia

The lady today known by only her first name was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll on February 2, 1977. Her mother is Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado, a Colombian with some Catalan to her. Her father, William Mebarak Chadid is American-born and of Lebanese descent, but the couple settled in Barranquilla, Colombia and raised their family. Shakira was the only child of her parent's marriage, and says that she felt like an only child in her nuclear family, though she is not without siblings. In fact, her father had five sons and three daughters during a previous marriage. She actually had six brothers, but when she was 2 years old, she says she recalls that her mother received a phone call telling the family that a brother had died in a motorcycle accident when he was struck by a drunk driver. This, Shakira says, is her first memory.

It's not her fault she's so irresistible

Shakira grew up with the influence of all her parent’s personality and background, with a healthy dose of local culture and American rock and roll. Her father enjoyed discussing politics and other deep topics with his family, which may or may not have had an influence on his young daughter's romantic taste in later life.

She started writing songs when very young (her first song was “Your Dark Sunglasses”, a ‘romantic’ song focusing on an imaginary little boy/boyfriend- circa 1985), which then progressed to talent show competitions and a failed modeling career in Bogotá in 1990. The failed modeling career was actually probably the most important break of all, as soon after, she got signed by the Colombian division of Sony. She released her debut album, Magia, the following year, at the tender age of 13.

Cause all we really needed was our bare feet and a pair of wings to fly

As previously stated, Shakira’s childhood and career began to blend together. Magia started her on her way to intranational recognition, but the album did not break onto the world scene. Her second album, Peligro, was rather poppy for the budding starlet’s taste, and instead of doing more recording, she took a role on the soap opera El Oasis around 1994. At age 17, she was young and experimentational. Her acting was personally admitted to be a little lukewarm.

“But I was too young, and I was a little overacted, and I don't feel too proud, you know? I don't like to watch the episodes of that series.”

After this little foray into an alternate art, Shakira returned to music. In 1995, she released Piez Descalzos, which began spawning hit after hit. This allowed her to break into the international market with force. She managed to reach the top of the charts in not five, nor six, but eight different countries. This success was pretty encouraging to a girl who had to get two auditions to get signed, and she enlisted the help of Emilio Estefan (husband of another Latina star, Gloria Estefan) as manager to keep things rolling. 1998’s album with Estefan's leadership, Donde Estan los Ladrones, marks the point where I actually started caring about Shakira. This multi-hit album fielded the wonderfully catchy and Arabian-infused hit "Ojos Asi". This song gave a vigorous and toe-tapping nod to Shakira’s Lebanese roots, personal strength, and ridiculously seductive belly-dancing technique. More on that later.

Emilio’s lovely wife soon offered to translate "Ojos Asi" for Shakira, who was beginning to see the immense opportunity inherent in the English-speaking market. She began to learn English so that she could write her own lyrics in the future, purely in English and featuring her unique style of poetry inherent in her Spanish hits. Out popped Laundry Service, a pretty-much English language album featuring the hits "Whenever, Wherever" and "Objection (Tango)". There are also random songs that have taught me how to mouth words in Spanish with large levels of accuracy (see: "Te Dejo Madrid"). The album hit triple platinum a year after release. Obviously, something went right. The bilingual ability allowed her to focus her lyrics on what she was actually trying to get across.

“The Spanish album is strictly romantic. . . but the English album embraces more social-oriented topics. I always talk about my opinions in Spanish”

2002 saw a greatest hits album, a remix CD of Laundry Service, followed by a DVD and, as always, was peppered with touring sets (which consequently allowed a Live album). By 2005, international audiences were being wowed by Fijacion Oral, a new Spanish language album created at her home studio in the Bahamas. It introduced us to the multi-national superhit "La Tortura", and a greased-up Shakira gyrating and shaking everything her mother had instilled in her in her music video as if she were filled with live serpents and lovely, lovely dreams. The English “version” of the album (actually the second volume) was titled Oral Fixation and led to an absolutely spectacular single, “Hips Don’t Lie”, featuring Wyclef Jean. This hit was well received in America and around the world. Millions of people listened to it purposely and with gusto. Millions more may have been accidentally exposed during her performance with Wyclef during the 2006 World Cup Final halftime show in front of the sold-out stadium and countless more televisions worldwide.

The things I deserve, for being such a good girl, honey

To date, Shakira has been nominated for 13 Latin Grammys and won seven of them-

  • 2000-Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Pop ("Ojos Así")
  • 2000-Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Rock ("Octavo Día")
  • 2002-Best Music Video Music Video ("Suerte")
  • 2006-Album of the Year (Fijación Oral Vol. 1)
  • 2006-Record of the Year ("La Tortura")
  • 2006-Song of the Year ("La Tortura")
  • 2006-Best Female Vocal Pop Album Pop (Fijación Oral Vol.)
  • 2006- Engineered Album Production (Fijación Oral Vol. 1)

She was also nominated for four Grammys, winning two of them-

  • 2001-Best Latin Pop Album
  • 2006-Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album

There are also numerous number ones and top tens and debut albums and ridiculous accolades that can be attributed to the lovely Colombiana, but my family’s already mad at me for noding away my vacation. Suffice it to say, she has stormed the charts in numerous countries, and she has done it well.

Nothing like your smile made of sun

I don’t know if I’ve expressed this sufficiently, but Shakira is truly a lovely woman. She has gone through several hair color and style iterations, from brown and curly to brown and straight, through an outstanding state of fuscia and settling currently on bouncy blonde curls. They really look quite striking with her lightly tanned complexion and big brown eyes. She’s got the body of a dancer, which she often enjoys showing off in her videos. Let’s just face it, people. The lady has some serious belly-dancing, hip swinging, back-breaking moves. And she does it all without the dirty pop-tart look so common in the music of the day. For lovely examples of her dancing, check out the videos for "La Tortura" or "Hips Don’t Lie".

Me quede tu abrazo, y el beso que inventas cada día

Despite her stint on the soap opera, Shakira says she is not really in to acting currently, though she does agree that art can be appreciated in all its forms. What’s in store for her music? Who knows!

"My music, I think, is a fusion of many different elements. . . And I'm always experimenting. So I try not to limit myself, or put myself in a category, or . . . be the architect of my own jail, you know?"

I am sure you’re looking forward to it, so I will tell you now that Shakira has been romantically linked with Antonio de la Rua since 2000. The two have been engaged for some time, and may eventually get married. Their relationship did stop Tower Records from selling her albums in Argentina for a while, considering her squeeze’s rather personal entanglement with the politics there.

Shakira has necrophobia- following the death of her brother, she herself fears her death, relatives dying, and even the eventual death of relationships.

So there you have it, as best as I can provide- a brief and hopefully informative synopsis of the life and times of the lady behind the hips. Stay tuned for further developments and, God willing, better gossip.