Shakira Mebarak was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, a large industrial city off the coast of northern Colombia and the largest seaport in the Caribbean. A descendent of Turkish heritage, she grew up in an impoverished setting where her family struggled to make ends meet and her life sheltered with survival. However, her family raised their beloved daughter on the values and beliefs of following your dreams and making it in this world. During those early years of little Shakira's life, she followed her parents' inspiring wisdom, writing poetry, playing guitar (which she still does, as heard throughout "Pies Descalzos"), and participating in small plays of dance and song in and around Colombia. People took notice of this aspiring young prodigy's talent, and it wasn't long before she became a popular figure in her hometown. But Shakira was fascinated by the one theme that would eventually make her a popular figure in all of Latin America: The song. And she began the pursuit of her fascination when she wrote and performed her first composition, "Tus Obscuras Gafas" (Your Dark Glasses), a song in honor to her father.
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At age thirteen, Shakira left Barranquilla and headed 300 miles south to Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. But the transition from Barranquilla to Bogota would not be an easy one for her. Life in Bogota was much different than what it was in Barranquilla. At times, she felt homesick and found it difficult adapting to life in Bogota without her parents. However, she made the most of those years, singing and playing guitar at local cafes and small festivals. She also worked as a model--all of this in an effort to earn some money for food, clothing, and other necessities. All the while, she studied music and acting, possessing the messages her parents induced on her and believing that there would be a day her artistic efforts and personality would take her far. That day came in 1990, when she attained a recording contract with Sony Discos. In 1991, at the tender age of fifteen, she released an album of songs she wrote, her first titled "Magia" (Magic), which marked her entry into the Latin music scene. Among the songs included on that album was that first song she dedicated to her father. A year later, she released her second album under Sony Discos titled "Peligro" (Danger).
In 1994, Shakira demonstrated her acting ability in the popular Colombian telenovela "El Oasis" (The Oasis). She had a three-year contract to continue working with Caracol Television de Colombia, the network that aired the telenovela, but, "Mi prioridad es, ha sido y seguira siendo la música." However, Caracol Television has not forsaken Shakira, since they have left the doors open for her if she decides to return to television. More than a year after the release of "Pies Descalzos," Shakira demonstrated her acting ability again. The only difference was, it wasn't on the television screen. Instead, it was on the silver screen when she appeared in her first motion picture "El Zorro," a film that was directed by Steven Spielberg, where she played alongside famous Spanish-American actor Antonio Banderas.
Now an international superstar, Shakira took her career to great heights, manifesting her musical finesse in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and all of Central and South America. Performances usually drew in audiences between 40,000 and 50,000. However, a tragedy occurred at one concert in her hometown of Barranquilla. A mad blitz of fans protesting a delay at the concert surged their way into a packed crowd of 70,000. Three people were killed, dozens injured, and one teenager committed suicide because his parents refused granting him permission to see the performance. Fortunately, Shakira was not involved in the tragedy. Shakira has also performed at numerous festivals throughout Latin America, including Festival Acapulco 96 in Mexico and the Vina Del Mar Festival in Chile. And she has also performed on many popular Spanish television programs--among them, "Siempre en Domingo" (Always on Sunday), "Sabado Gigante" (Gigantic Saturday), and "Super Sabado Sensacional" (Super Sensational Saturday).
Shakira's brand of Latin-alternative folk-rock exploded onto the spotlight in 1996 with her third album "Pies Descalzos" (Bare Feet). The album did not get off to a great start in its first few weeks of release. Still, the musical talent of this young Colombian sensation was apparent. Time passed before a single off that album, "Estoy Aqui" (I Am Here), played on radio stations across Latin America. The song would become an instant hit, going straight to number one on the Latin Music charts. Later, a second single off that album, "Donde Estas Corazon" (Where are you Sweetheart), met with more success and also went to number one. Soon, other tracks from that album were released and became successful: "Antologia" (Anthology), "Pienso en Ti" (I Think Of You), "Un Poco De Amor" (A Little Bit Of Love), and "Se Quiere, Se Mata" (She Loves, She Murders). Before she knew it, Shakira had suddenly taken the Latin world by storm with a string of top-ten singles.
Her career blasted off like a rocket and entered the galaxy of spectacular prominence, awakening those to the realization of her marvelous, unbridled talent. In addition, "Pies Descalzos" emerged out of the doldrums of failure and annihilated everything in its path, blasting toward number one on the Billboard Latin music charts and leaving the rest of the opposition behind in a pile of wreckage. The album also became number one in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and--of course--Colombia. Since its release, the album has remained in the Billboard Latin Top 50, selling more than 2 million copies across Latin America and more than 3.5 million copies worldwide. Clearly, Shakira has become a one-woman wrecking crew, rampaging all over the competition, retooling and revolutionizing the face of Latin music. And millions of fans--from children to teens to adults--have been captivated by her extraordinary sound.
But Shakira has to wonder if she can maintain this amazing level of success. "He pasado por dos discos anteriores y corria el riesgo de fracasar con el tercero" said the young Colombian pop star. "Asi que no siento que haya habido un cambio drastico en mi carrera. He venido trabajando desde los diez años las 24 horas del dia,los 365 dias del ano..."
Well, she may have ran the risk of failing with "Pies Descalzos" after two unsuccessful albums. But if there's one thing Shakira has never failed in, it's in the strength to reach within herself and never give up. And "Pies Descalzos" is the result of years of hard work and never giving up to achieve and believe her dreams. The album, produced by Luis Fernando Ochoa and co-produced by the artist, is an eleven-track excursion of super-slammin' spirited Latin pop melodies, fueled with a strong vocal performance, evenly balanced material, and a funky, laid-back, "stuff-it-down-the-throat-like-Shaquille-'cause the sh*t-is-real" attitude.
"Cada cancion tuvo su momento y su estado de animo, esta vez quisimos explorar musicalmente por todos lados," stated Shakira about her album. "Hay una fusion de ritmos, reggae, balada, pop, rock y sobre todo la parte acustica nunca deja de prevalecer dentro del C.D."
Unlike her previous two albums, Shakira this time shows a great maturity in both her songwriting and her music. She provides a clear framework for the experiences and emotions she conveys. From the sensations of contact with the Earth, to the freedom and natural, to her heart and soul, Shakira presents the listener with an illustration of those experiences, expressing them from a bare-knuckled perspective that gives her songs that extra meaning. The song "Donde Estas Corazon" is about, according to Shakira, "La busqueda de un ser humano de carne y hueso. Porque soy una persona que necesita estar activa sentimentalmente. La persona no tiene que estar fisicamente, pero si tiene que estar aqui."
"No pretendo polemizar," remarks Shakira about the social song "Se Quiere, Se Mata," in which she stresses the topic of abortion and its meaning on killing a human life. "El arte es un medio por expresar mundos interrogantes, planteamientos, y uno de ellos es el de...Hasta que punto tenemos que ser tan obedientes con patrones como robots sin cerebro propio? Es tiempo de pensar con nuestras propias neuronas, de vivir la vida como viene. En este momento alguien sacrifica un hijo. Creo que todos tenemos algo de ese alguien."
Other songs on "Pies Descalzos" that Shakira jams and slams down the listener's throat include "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos," a lively pop-rock melody that serves as the anthem of her album; and "Un Poco De Amor" a rap/reggae-splashed tune that features Howard Glasford, singer of the group Magical Beat.
Not since Selena has an artist like Shakira made such an enormous impact in the world of Latin music. Once a woman of virtual obscurity, Shakira has suddenly become the most irresistible force to reckon with. She's proud of the hard work and dedication she has put in as Latin America's most famous superstar. Currently, she is at the point in her career where she is blossoming as an entertainer and has so much to thank for her remarkable success so far. However, she knows that she's climbed one mountain in her rise to fame and that she'll have to climb several more mountains--not only in her career, but also in her life. For now, all this is a new beginning for Shakira. She just wants to remain committed doing things connected with both her music and, in general, herself because, "si bien he luchado para todo esto, sinceramente no logro medir la dimension de mi trabajo actual. No se si reir, llorar, celebrar...no se si, tal vez escriba una cancion con esta coyuntura que me ronda."
There is no holding back for this multi-talented young artist.
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