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With her effervescent persona, bold vocal stylings, and gyrating hips that seemingly defied the laws of physics, Latin pop sensation Shakira burst onto the international music scene in the late 1990s to become one of the most successful musical acts in history. Undeniably talented and unswervingly determined, she signed her first recording contract at the age of 13. After her first two albums performed poorly outside her native Columbia, Shakira took a firmer hand in the production and direction of subsequent efforts, infusing her music with a rock sensibility and the Arabic rhythms that had influenced her in her youth. It was a bold decision that paid off handsomely with the release and chart-topping domination of hit singles like "Ojos Así" and "Hips Don't Lie." While the former song would earn Shakira a Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, the latter broke a record for the most airplay during a single week in the history of American radio. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the entertainer was one of the top-earning women in music and a featured performer at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. As a singer, songwriter, dancer, producer, philanthropist and even judge on "The Voice" (NBC, 2011- ), Shakira consistently exceeded expectations in a career that endeared her to legions of fans from every corner of the globe.

Born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll on Feb. 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Columbia, she was the only child of Nidia Ripoll and William Mebarak Chadid, a jeweler and writer. Of Lebanese, Spanish and Italian descent, she grew up in the northern region of Columbia with eight older step-siblings from her father's previous marriage. Shakira began writing poetry and song lyrics at an early age, and after being taken to a Middle Eastern restaurant by her father, she became fascinated with Arabic music and belly dancing. She was an enthusiastic singer as a child, so much so that her Catholic school music teacher refused to allow her to join the choir, declaring that her strong vibrato made her sound "like a goat." During a period when Shakira's parents experienced severe financial difficulties, they sent the youngster to the U.S. in order to spare her any unpleasantness. Upon her return, she found her family's circumstances much changed, and with a newfound determination, began making a name for herself in and around Barranquilla with various musical performances. With the aid of a local theater producer, the 13-year-old Shakira secured a three record deal with Sony Columbia in 1990. Her first album Magia was a hastily produced, uneven effort comprised mostly of love songs Shakira had written between the ages of eight and 13. Neither Magia or its follow-up, Peligro, garnered much attention outside the reach of Columbian radio, due in part to poor production values and Shakira's unwillingness to heavily promote them. Dissatisfied with the simplistic pop direction these albums had taken, she took a hiatus from recording, instead joining the cast of a Columbian soap opera in 1994.

Exerting much more control over the direction of the next album, Shakira released Pies Descalzosin 1995 in South America, followed by an international release in 1996. Heavily influenced by American alternative rock, British groups like The Pretenders, and exuding Arabic beats, the Spanish-language album spawned six hit singles, including "Estoy Aquí," which reached the No. 2 position on the U.S. Latin chart. Gradually building momentum, the record reached the top of the charts in eight different countries and eventually reached platinum status in the U.S. For her next project, Shakira signed Emilio Estefan, Jr. - husband of Gloria Estefan - as her manager and co-producer. Now fully in control of her music, 1998's Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (Where Are The Thieves?), exhibited deeply personal songwriting and a fiery persona that drew comparisons to Alanis Morissette. The album was an immediate smash hit, spending 11 weeks at the top of Billboard's Latin album chart and producing two No. 1 U.S. singles. Another single, the international hit "Ojos Así," was a loving nod to her father's Middle Eastern roots, and lent itself to the belly-dancing moves Shakira had perfected as a young girl. With increased attention in North America, she performed a live performance on "MTV Unplugged" (MTV, 1999) and taught herself fluent English as she prepared for cross-over success.

After performing a show stopping rendition of "Ojos Así" at the inaugural Latin Grammy Awards in 2001, Shakira was primed for mainstream success in America. Written or co-written entirely by the artist and featuring mostly English lyrics, 2001's Laundry Service was an overnight success, with the first single "Whenever, Wherever" breaking into the Top Ten of the U.S. Hot 100 chart. Other singles performed nearly as well, propelling the album to triple platinum sales levels. Shakira toured extensively throughout the world and made several high-profile appearances in support of the album before stepping out of the spotlight to focus on writing songs for her next recording. The year 2005 saw the release of the Spanish-language Fijación Oral Vol.1, featuring the single "La Tortura," which broke into the Top 40 on the Hot 100 chart. The album performed well internationally, winning a Grammy and four Latin Grammys the following year. Its English-language counterpart, Oral Fixation Vol.1 soon followed, although, surprisingly, it failed to perform as well as its predecessor on the U.S. charts. With the album's sales falling off, the record company re-released it with a newly commissioned single, "Hips Don't Lie," featuring Wyclef Jean. The song exploded on the charts, becoming a ubiquitous fixture on FM radio and providing Shakira with her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. According to the Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, during the height of its popularity, "Hips Don't Lie" was the single most-played pop song in a single week in American history. It also became the first single to simultaneously reach No.1 on the U.S. Top 40 and Latin charts in the same week.

Now one of the most successful Latin American performers in history, Shakira was named in 2008 as the fourth top female earner in music by Forbes magazine. In the summer of the same year, she announced a 10-year deal with concert promotions giant, Live Nation. In 2009, just months after performing alongside Stevie Wonder and Usher at President Barack Obama's inauguration, "She Wolf," the first single from her predominantly English-language album of the same name, was released. A slick, techno-pop dancehall offering, it garnered nearly unanimous praise from critics, although it performed far below expectations on the charts. Some cited her move away from her Latin-folk, pop-rock roots for the slump in sales of She Wolf. In the midst of ramping up for the release of the next album, Shakira collaborated with South African Afro-fusion group Freshlyground on the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup games, "Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)," which she performed with the group at the games' opening and closing ceremonies.

In the fall of 2010, Shakira released Sale el Soll, generally well-received by critics and viewed as a more successful bridge between the artist's past and present than her previous effort. Breaking onto the Billboard 200 at No.7 and in the No.1 spot on the Latin Album chart, Sale el Sol became Shakira's third highest-ranked debut in the Top Ten and ultimately sold over four million copies worldwide. In September 2010, the performer launched her "The Sun Comes Out World Tour" in support of the album, kicking off in the Americas, with stops in Europe and Africa. After being named Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year in 2011, Shakira confirmed media speculation that she was dating Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué that same year. In September 2012, she announced that the couple was set to have their first child and early the following year she gave birth to their son, Milan, in Spain. During this time, Shakira began recording her eighth studio album and was announced in March 2013 as a substitute judge and coach on the fourth season of "The Voice" (NBC, 2011- ), joining Usher in temporarily replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green, both of whom were taking time off to focus on their music careers.

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