Shakira has been a global superstar for two decades, combining her singing and dancing skills into a unique musical act. In addition to her other talents, can Shakira play guitar?
Shakira has played the guitar since her youth, learning how to play the instrument in her early teens. It has been a feature of her performances ever since. Some questioned her ability after she was visibly miming during her Super Bowl performance, however, almost all halftime shows are mimed to some extent.
For more on Shakira’s history with the guitar and some of the controversy about her Super Bowl performance, read on.
Shakira discovered her love for music at an extremely early age, first standing on a restaurant table and dancing along to a song at the age of 4.
She embraced this love throughout her time in a Catholic school, entertaining classmates and teachers with her renditions despite being rejected from the school choir due to her apparently overwhelming vibrato.
She started taking singing lessons at the age of 10 and signed her first record deal at 13. It was between these two events that she discovered the depth of her love for the guitar.
While listening to “Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode, Shakira told her mother that she felt something overwhelming every time she heard the track’s guitar solo. She listened to the song repeatedly, hoping to recapture that strong emotion, and began to understand the potential power of the electric guitar.
Shakira started taking guitar lessons, growing up with the instrument. Her music is her own unique mix of Latin rhythms and rock guitar and audiences have seen her alternating between silky smooth belly dancing and intense guitar playing for more than two decades.
The guitar is not the only instrument Shakira can play, though it is the one she has the most experience with. She also plays the piano.
Perhaps more surprisingly, she can also play the harmonica, a talent she displayed early in her career.
Super Bowl LIV
There was some controversy following Shakira’s Super Bowl LIV halftime performance alongside Jennifer Lopez.
This controversy didn’t only regard the outfits worn by the two music icons but also questions about Shakira’s instrument playing throughout the medley.
As pointed out by some online critics, Shakira’s fretting during the guitar portion of the performance appeared not to match the audio heard by the audience.
While some took this as proof that Shakira was somehow not a competent guitarist, despite her decades of live gig experience, there is a much simpler explanation. Super Bowl performances generally use prerecorded audio.
Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea shared that everything other than the band’s vocals was mimed during their 2014 halftime show, a condition set by the NFL.
Other musicians, including Beyonce and Katy Perry, have openly admitted to using prerecorded vocal samples during their performances at the Big Game.
Lady Gaga is one of the few to have seemingly used minimal lip sync during her performance and she urged others to follow suit. It’s easy to be critical of miming during a concert but the Super Bowl is a unique situation for performers.
Even with Shakira and J’Lo’s remarkable fitness levels and experience, performing an unbroken 15 minute set with no rest, singing, dancing, and changing instruments is an impossible task for most musicians.
Super Bowl halftime shows are rarely used as demonstrations of sheer musical talent, rather they’re a 15-minute compilation of an artist’s greatest hits, performed spectacularly. Flea described the show as a “music video”.
For most, Shakira’s questionable guitar chords during the show would have barely been noticeable, and far from the most remembered thing about the show. If you want to hear Shakira really playing the guitar, there are more than 20 years of live performances to refer back to.