When it comes to artists who have successfully crossed over into the English-language market there can be fewer who are more successful or better known than Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira, full name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripol, who was born in Barranquilla on 2 February 1977.
After showing early promise in school performances, Shakira began her career as a recording artist in the early 1990s but commercial success did not come immediately. She released several albums before rising to prominence after signing with a major label in 1996. It was her third and fourth studio albums, Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) and Dónde están los ladrones? (Where Are the Thieves), in 1996 and 1998 respectively which finally brought her widespread fame in Latin America as well as two Latin Grammy awards.
She entered the English-language market in 2002 and scored the best-selling single of that year with Whenever, Wherever from the album Laundry Service. In 2005, Hips Don’t Lie became the best-selling song of the 21st century, and she also holds the record for the biggest-selling official World Cup song ever with 2010’s Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).
Aside from her hugely successful recording career, Shakira is also known for her philanthropic work. In 1997 she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, named after her third album, which runs special schools for poor children in Colombia. She is also a founder and prominent member of the America Latina en Acción Solidaria (Latin America in Solidarity Action) (ALAS) Foundation, which is dedicated to Early Childhood Development programs for children in Latin America and is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Shakira speaks fluent English, good Portuguese and several other languages as well as her native Spanish. If you would like to learn Spanish, find out about our Private Spanish Lessons in London.