The name Shakira alone is unique enough to draw attention in the United States, and her contagious stage presence, humanitarian values, and diverse perspective only heighten her fame in the United States.
Shakira is Spanish, as she was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. While her mother is a native Colombian, her father is Lebanese, and with eight siblings, Shakira grew up in a very diverse home that introduced her to several languages and experiences–but Spanish is her native language.
Shakira can speak a total of six languages, but Spanish will always be the language that helped her rise to the top and claim her voice.
Staying Loyal to Her Roots
Shakira initially began belly dancing and writing songs, as well as performing in talent competitions by the age of ten. By this time, she knew that she loved performing (and was good at it), and her parents knew it too.
When a local theatre producer helped her attain an audition with a Sony Corporation executive in 1990, Shakira was provided with the opportunity to sign a record deal.
Her first two albums–Magia and Peligro–were successful, but she took a brief hiatus from music to act in a Latin soap opera, called El oasis.
Once she returned to the music world, she was a quick success. She produced an impressive album, called Pies descalzos, and subsequently produced multiple top hits.
Up to this point, all of her music was in Spanish. She continued on to release another Spanish album.
Because of the amazing music that she had produced in Spanish, she won Latin Grammy Awards for best female pop vocal performance and for best rock vocal performance.
After this, Shakira focused on instilling herself in a new audience. She focused on learning English and hoped to establish herself as a new career in the United States.
In 2001, Shakira had a big, successful year. She won a Grammy Award for best Latin pop album–named MTV Unplugged–and she released her first English album, called Laundry Service.
Over time, Shakira continued to merge her two album types–both Latin style and English–and has found great success. She is still extremely well known in both Colombia and the United States, even decades later.
Whether she is singing in English or in Spanish, Shakira’s unique voice and passionate stage presence help her maintain her loyal following.
You can see a recent post of Shakira and her humanitarian work in Colombia, using the link to her Instagram post below.
You can also watch one of her fierce music videos for one of her Spanish songs, using the YouTube link below.
Transition from Spanish to English
In order to transform her career and make a big impact in the United States, Shakira knew she had to start speaking English so she could write and perform English music.
At the time, Shakira only spoke her native language of Spanish when her manager, Emilio Estefan hired an English tutor to help her learn the language. However, since Shakira was still too nervous to perform at such a high level with her new skill, Gloria Estefan offered to help her master the English Language.
Shakira gladly took her up on the offer, and we are all glad now that she did. Gloria and her husband, Emilio, Estefan spent an extensive amount of time and energy investing in Shakira’s new skill that she hoped would take her career to new heights.
Estefan assigned English books and other resources to Shakira, so she could immerse herself in the language and learn in more holistically. In time, she put in the work and she learned English.
Maybe we could all learn a lesson from Shakira–to lean back and enjoy the ride that life takes us on.