As the Queen of Latin Music Shakira first entered the music industry when she was just 13 after signing with Sony Music Columbia, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she established herself in the English language market with her fifth album Laundry Service. So what was her first song?
Shakira’s first song, written when she was eight, was Tus Gafas Oscuras which translates to Your Dark Glasses. It was inspired by her father who wore dark glasses to mask his unbearable grief following the loss of his son (Shakira’s half-brother).
Would you like to learn more about how Shakira gradually became an international pop sensation selling millions of units worldwide? Keep reading below, this one’s for you.
Shakira’s Rise to International Fame
In 2002, when Shakira was 25, she had been awarded a Grammy for the Best Latin Pop Album and she had become one of Latin America’s biggest artists. Just 18 years later, Shakira had sold 75 million records worldwide, making her the highest-selling Columbian artist of all time; but how did she get there?
Born on February 2, 1977, to parents of Lebanese and Columbian ancestry, Shakira composed her first song when she was eight. By the time she was 13, she had signed her first major record deal with Sony.
Her 1991 album Magnia and her 1993 album Peligro were her first two releases as a musician, but they didn’t have much success. Only 1,200 copies of Magnia were sold worldwide, so while Shakira’s album did quite well in her native Columbia, the rest of the world didn’t take well to it.
It wasn’t until a decade later and five albums in that Shakira made her breakthrough in the English language singing industry with her 2001 album Laundry Service which appeared on Billboard 200 at number three.
“It’s hard to generate a crossover because generally speaking, every country in the world listens to either local repertoire or music in English,” Afo Verde, Sony’s chairman, and CEO explained. Nonetheless, Shakira managed to generate a crossover.
Laundry Service contains two singles that appeared on the Hot 100 chart within the top 10, including “Whenever, Wherever” which peaked at number six and “Underneath Your Clothes” which reached number nine. Six months following its release, the album had sold three million copies in the United States.
A year after its release, Laundry Service was declared the seventh best-selling album in the world in 2002 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
Five years later in June 2006, Shakira landed her first chart-topping hit in the Hot 100 with Hips Don’t Lie – a single from the songstress’s seventh album Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 released in November 2005 – which spent 31 weeks on Billboard Hot 100. Hips Don’t Lie is one of Shakira’s best-selling and most-streamed songs which accumulated 792,000 sales and 1.8 million on-demand streams in America across two days in 2020.
The Queen of Latin Music
Across her very successful career, Shakira has released a plethora of albums and hit singles. She has stayed true to her roots, consistently aiming to incorporate them in some way into her songs.
On Billboard, Shakira has had at least two albums that have appeared on the Top Latin Albums of the 2010s chart.
The first album to appear on this chart was her 2010 album Sale El Sol, which was a chart-topper marking the return to her roots after her 2009 hit She Wolf. Within the first week, the album had made sales of 46,000 units.
Another album to appear on this chart reaching number one was Shakira’s eleventh album El Dorado which was released in 2017. The album spent 11 weeks on the Latin Albums chart and became certified platinum 16 times after its release and it was awarded a Grammy for the Best Latin Pop Album in 2018.
Shakira truly is the Queen of Latin Music.