Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born February 2, 1977), known simply as Shakira, is a Grammy-award winning Colombian singer-songwriter, musician, composer, record producer, music-video director, dancer, choreographer, model, game creative director, businesswoman, multi instrumentalist and philanthropist who has sold over eighty million albums worldwide.
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The death of a half sibling and her father's reaction to it inspired her to write her first full song at age eight.
Little known outside her native Colombia, it wasn't until 1995 when Shakira took full creative control over her music, a fusion of rock and dance pop with both deeply personal and biting political lyrics. In 2001, she broke through into the English-speaking market with the release of her first album in that language, Laundry Service, which she wrote and produced herself and which has sold 3,5 million copies in the United States and 15 million (sometimes stated as 20 million) copies worldwide.
The album's massive sales came in large part thanks to the worldwide hit, "Whenever, Wherever" a dance song with unique Andean instrumentation which soon became one of the highest selling singles of the 21st century.
Shakira is half Lebanese, one quarter Spanish, and one quarter Italian.
It was at about this time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with her and as a result tried to help her career.
During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a motel lobby.
Vargas held Shakira in high regard and, returning to the Sony office, gave the cassette to a song and artist director.
However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was something of "a lost cause".
She was born to a Colombian mother of Catalan and Italian descent, Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado, and a Lebanese father, William Mebarak Chadid, in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she says she grew up among the Lebanese and Italian communities.
Her father was born in Lebanon, and immediately after that, his family migrated to New York, but he soon migrated to Colombia.
Shakira, which means "grateful" in Arabic (شاكرة), is named after her paternal grandmother.