It was the song 'Whenever, Wherever' from "Laundry Service" that was one of the first to be aired on the most popular radio stations in New York City: Z100. The radio DJ repeatedly mentioned that Shakira was going to be the "next big singer" comparing her to success of Jennifer Lopez.
At that time nobody knew who she was and the song received mixed reviews from the station listeners. The single "Underneath Your Clothes" from the same album, released in 2001, served as a clame to fame and earned her worldwide recognition.
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on Wednesday, February 2, 1977 in the coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia. Daughter of a respected jeweler, an American-born of Lebanese descent, Don William Mebarak Chadid, and his Colombian wife of Catalan-Italian descent, Nidia Ripoll Torrado.
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll
The child was their only daughter. In naming the newborn, Nidia had shuffled through several names containing the letter "K" to go well with the sound of the "K" in Mebarak. She had considered Karime and Katiuska but finally chose Shakira, an arabic name derived from the word "Shukram" which means "Grace". [source: www.shakiraisabel.com
]. The literal translation of the Arabic word Shakira is "woman full of Grace", even though Shakira has said she identifies more with its second meaning, "Grateful" or "Thankful". Seemingly, some sources wrongfully state that she was given this name after her grandmother on the father's side, who was also responsible for teaching her the art of Arabian Belly Dancing so she can stay true to her middle eastern roots.
Shakira has eight half-siblings; five brothers and three sisters, from her father and his former wife. Her sisters are Ana, Lucy (older; surgeon) and Patricia (Special Education Teacher) and brothers: Alberto (older, lawyer), Edward (younger), Moises (older), Tonino and Robin. Tonino, one of her younger half brothers is also Shakira's road manager. Shakira is fluent in 5 languages: Portuguese, Italian, English, Spanish and Arabic.
Shakira expressed interest in writing from early age. She was only 4 years old when she wrote her first poem "La Rosa De Cristal". She soon received a typewriter as a gift which she used to continuously write poems. About a question about her career, Shakira modestly replies: "You can laugh, but since I was a child I knew that I was going to be a well-known singer/songwriter; that was something I had no doubts about. It was almost like a prophecy." When Shakira was 8, she wrote her first song "Tus Gafas Oscuras", unfortunatelly inspired by her older brother's death in a motorcycle accident. She started winning local and national talent contests at age 10.
Shakira attended La Ensenanza School in Barranquilla, Colombia. She was kicked out of her school choir because her voice sounded more prominent than others, while impressing judges of local and national singing competitions.
Academically, Shakira was sensible and disciplined, but also inattentive; she did not pay attention in class as she would immerse herself in writing lyrics on the back of her notebooks. Her first album titled "Magia
", based on the song compilations she wrote between the ages of 8 and 13, was recorded with Sony Music when she was 15 years old.
While the album didn't succeed commercially, selling less than 1000 copies, it influenced her being chosen to represent her country at the Festival OTI in Spain. However, because she was under 16, the minimum age requirement, she didn't participate in the event.
Photo courtesy celebs101.com
Instead she went on to record her second album "Peligro (Danger)" which didn't receive much attention either.
When she was 19, Shakira has shown interest in acting. In 1996 she appeared in the Colombian telenovela "El Oasis", as the character of Luisa Maria, a a rich girl destined for ill-fated romance.
"I was a very bad actress," she told London's Observer newspaper. "But I had a lot of fun." To date she has not explored acting further.
*References for this article are currently unavailable.