Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, known professionally as Shakira, was born in Colombia February 2, 1977, to a Colombian mother and a Lebanese father. Her musical talent was recognized from an early age as she soaked up musical influences from her Latin and Middle Eastern heritages as well as rock and roll sung in English. Her first album Magia was released in 1991 when she was 13 years old, and featured songs that she had written between the ages of eight and thirteen. It wasn't a large success, and her second album, Peligro, released in 1993 when she was 15 years old, wasn't much more successful.

It wasn't until after she took a break and became an actress on the soap opera  El Oasís and then returned to music when she was 19 with her true break-through album Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) in 1996. This album eventually produced six hit singles and sold over four million copies worldwide, hitting the number one in sales slot in eight countries. To support this album, she toured across the world to Spanish-speaking cities for nearly two years.

Her next album, Dónde Están los Ladrones? (Where are the Thieves?), was produced by Emilio Estefan. A big single from that album, “Ojos Así,” won a Latin Grammy in 2000 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and “Octavo Día" won for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.  She also won a MTV Video Music Award for her video of “Ojos Así.” That year her performance on MTV Unplugged aired in both the United States and much of Latin America. The producer Estefan knew he had the next Latin crossover star much like Selena on his hands, and believed that the blend of Latin and Middle Eastern music was going to influence more musicians in years to come.

That crossover truly happened with the release of Laundry Service, an English language album for which Shakira pushed herself to learn enough English to write most of the songs for herself. This album reached number three on the Billboard charts and sold about thirteen million copies across the world. She then took a few years off from writing and recording music to touring, and came back with Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 in 2005. The English album contained the hit "Hips Don't Lie", and in 2006 she won the American Music Award for favorite Latin music artist.

Shakira isn't just a fantastic singer, songwriter, and dancer: she's also a philanthropist. In 1996 after the release of the album Pies Descalzos she created the Pies Descalzos Foundation to promote public education for children in Colombia. By 2009, she had built five schools in Colombia and was fundraising to build more. In 2006, she helped to create the foundation Latin America in Solidarity Action (known better by its Spanish acronym, ALAS) whose purpose is to combat child poverty. In 2011, President Obama appointed her to his education committee, the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, as someone experienced in advocating for the education of Latino children.

Books for Revolutionary Music Fans: Shakira

List created by BostonPL_VeronicaKM

Throughout 2024, the Boston Public Library is highlighting revolutionary musicians throughout history. In April, we celebrate the Colombian singer/songwriter Shakira, whose ear-catching pop melodies, hypnotizing dance skills, and thoughtful lyrics have expanded the global reach of Latin music, enchanting listeners worldwide in both Spanish and English for over twenty years. This list of captivating reads from Latin America that can likewise be enjoyed in both languages will appeal to her fans both new and old.

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Printed Music



Pies descalzos

Dónde están los ladrones?

Fijación oral

Oral fixation

She Wolf

Sale El Sol


El dorado

Streamed Video

Shakira: Hits Don't Lie

Shakira: Latin Queen