Singer-songwriter Shakira Isabelle Mebarak Ripoll (1977-) was born in the coastal city of Barranquilla. The youngest of eight, her name in Arabic means "woman full of grace."
A songwriter by age eight and guitar player at 11, the child star has wiggled her way toward international fame. A mix of Colombian and Lebanese, Shakira celebrates a potpourri of music styles, from rock to belly dancing to tango, from Mexico, Brazil, and the Middle East.
"I've never taken a dance lesson anywhere," said the hip-shaker. "My dance moves are in my blood."
In 2001, she collaborated with the husband of Latin trailblazer Gloria Estefan to produce Laundry Service, her first English-language album and sixth release overall. With songs Whenever Wherever and Underneath Your Clothes, the album sold over 11 million copies worldwide and has been certified platinum or better in nearly two dozen countries.
She explained, "I feel that I'm a rocker trapped in a pop-singer body, and finally the rocker is going to have its opportunity to come out."
Colombian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez wrote that Shakira, "has a personal stamp that doesn't look like anyone else's and no one can sing or dance like her, at whatever age, with such an innocent sensuality, one that seems to be of her own invention."
About fame, she said, "Music makes miracles. Like the miraculous story of the Colombian girl who grew up in Barranquilla, who tasted peanut butter for the first time just a couple of years ago and now has reached her dream."