Shakira is well known for having a diverse mix of cultural influences on her music and life. With this in mind, what is her religious background?
Shakira was raised Roman Catholic and attended a Catholic school in her youth. She inherited her Catholic beliefs from her mother, who was Colombian with Spanish and Italian ancestry. Her father was American, of Lebanese parentage, and was also Christian. Shakira has discussed moving through periods of being more and less devout but still considers herself Catholic.
For more on Shakira’s background and what we know about her religious beliefs, read on.
Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia on February 2, 1977. She is the only child of William Mebarak Chadid and Nidia Ripoll Torrado, though William had been married previously and so Shakira has eight older half-siblings.
William is American, born in New York City, where his parents had lived since emigrating from Lebanon, making Shakira half Lebanese by blood. When he was 5, William’s parents moved to Colombia, meaning he has spent most of his life in the country.
Nidia was born and raised in Colombia, with Spanish and Italian ancestry. Shakira’s name is a feminine variation of the Arabic name Shakir and means “grateful”.
Some assume that Shakira’s name and middle eastern blood suggest that she or her father might be Muslim, however, this is not the case. William is a Lebanese Christian, meaning both of Shakira’s parents followed some form of Christianity.
Shakira herself was raised Catholic, attending Catholic schools in her youth. It seems she made the most of her time in school, frequently singing for her teachers and classmates, as well as the nuns who oversaw the school.
One of her music teachers did famously reject Shakira from the school choir due to the strength of her vibrato, claiming that the future megastar sounded “like a goat”.
Catholicism is by far the dominant faith in Colombia, with the number of people who identify as Roman Catholic hovering at around 80%. The percentage of practicing Catholics is significantly lower but it’s little surprise that Shakira is a member of the faith, given her early life in Colombia.
Although Shakira attending Catholic schools in her youth is common knowledge, it’s far more difficult to find clear information about her faith in adulthood.
Shakira had been through a very ugly split from her partner of ten years, Antonio de la Rua, who went as far as trying to sue the singer for somewhere in the region of $100 million.
It’s no surprise that she was questioning her beliefs through this difficult time, saying that she felt she was no longer feeling the love as she felt she should. In her words, she was “becoming an agnostic.”
She feels that love is the greatest proof of God’s existence and that her faith was restored when she met Pique in 2010, saying that it felt as though the sun came out.
In 2017, Shakira suffered a hemorrhage in her vocal cords and could barely speak, let alone sing. She shared that there were things she accepted she would one day lose, such as her youth and her beauty, but that her voice was inherent to her nature.
Doctors recommended surgery but Shakira was afraid that the operation would only make matters worse. Shakira turned to hypnosis and meditation and even traveled to Lourdes, a French pilgrimage site, to receive holy water.
Shakira’s voice eventually returned and, whether or not her pilgrimage had any impact, she said it felt like a religious experience and that every night on stage afterward was “a gift”.
It seems that in her most troubling moments, Shakira still finds solace in turning to God.