The life of Shakira

She nearly lost her voice, but now she'll perform for a massive audience at the Super Bowl halftime show. This is @shakira, a living Latin pop legend.

Her iconic voice

She came close to losing her voice. “I always thought that I would lose many things one day. You lose youth, you lose beauty, you even lose friends, some people come and go. But my voice… I never thought it could disappear. And when there were these moments of doubt, when I didn’t know whether I would be able to sing again, it truly was the darkest moment of my life,” she recalls. She’s a rocker at heart who became a legend of Latin pop. She fights for children’s right to education. This is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll.

The story of Shakira

Shakira was born on February 2, 1977, in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her father is Lebanese, and her mother is Colombian. In Arabic, her name means “grateful." At 4, she started writing poems that would later become songs. When she was 7, her father’s jewelry business went bankrupt, and her family lost everything. Her father would take her to visit orphans so she would realize others were worse off. “At that moment, I promised myself that if I was ever able to help, I would,” she said. At 13, she landed a recording contract, but her first two pop albums flopped. At 18, she released “Pies Descalzos”, a pop-rock album she produced herself, which was an instant hit in Latin America. That same year, she launched the Pies Descalzos Foundation, which provides safe learning facilities that provides nutritious meals to underprivileged Colombian children. At 22, she became the first Latina solo act to record an MTV Unplugged album in Spanish. “I’m experimenting with lyrics in English, I write my own songs, but I always did it in Spanish, now it’s a totally different challenge, very, very big challenge, I think probably one of the biggest ones of my career,” she shared. At 24, she released her first bilingual album “Laundry Service”, “Servicio de Lavandería”, where most songs were written both in English and Spanish. She integrated her Arabic origins in her music, and belly-dancing became her trademark move. At 26, she became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, and she fought for children’s education globally. In 2009, she performed at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Her special relationship with sports

At 33, she was picked to write the official song of the South Africa World Cup. “Waka Waka (Song for Africa)”, recorded with the Cape Town band Freshlyground, remains to this date the most streamed World Cup song of all time. While filming the song’s video, she met her partner, Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué. Together, they have two sons, Milo and Sasha. “My relationship with football is quite special. Soccer has changed my life in many ways, The World Cup has changed my life in one specific way. In 2010, I met the love of my life at the South Africa World Cup, and if it wasn't for that World Cup my son wouldn't be here with me today,” Shakira admits. At 39, she went back to her roots, releasing a duo with Colombia’s iconic singer Carlos Vives and a reggaeton song with Maluma. In 2017, her reputation as a philanthropist took a hit when the Panama Papers revealed that she was registered in the Bahamas for tax reasons. Also charged with tax evasion in Spain, where she now lives, she has denied any wrongdoing. At 40, after suffering a hemorrhage in her vocal chords, she was barely able to speak, and thought she may never sing again. She said getting her voice back felt like divine intervention. On her 43rd birthday, she co-headlined the halftime show of the Super Bowl with Jennifer Lopez. “I'm feeling many things. If someone had told me when I was living in Barranquilla, Colombia, that I was going to be here singing in the Super Bowl, which is, I think, one of the most important global events, maybe I wouldn't have believed it. But here we are. It's reality,” she declared.