Birth name: Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll Born: February 2, 1977 (1977-02-02),Barranquilla, Colombia Genres: Latin pop, rock en Español, pop rock, alternative, world, dance Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, philanthropist, dancer Instruments: Vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums, percussion Years active: since 1990 Labels: Epic, Live Nation Artists, Columbia, Sony Music Colombia Website: www.shakira.com * Shakira was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is the only child of Nidya del Carmen Ripoll Torrado and William Mebarak Chadid who are of Lebanese, Spanish (Catalan) and Italian descent. She has 8 older half siblings from her father's previous marriage. *Shakira means "thankful" in Arabic. It is the feminine form of the name Shakir. Her second name, Isabel, is also that of her paternal grandmother, meaning "my God is my oath", "my God's house" or "my God is abundance", and her name is even and simply a Spanish given name for Elizabeth. Her second surname name Ripoll is Catalan. She spent much of her youth in Barranquilla, a city located in northern Colombia. Shakira is also noted for her keen intellect and has scored well on IQ tests. Shakira wrote her first poem, entitled "La Rosa De Cristal" ("The Crystal Rose") when she was only four years old. As she was growing up, she was fascinated watching her father writing stories on a typewriter, and asked for one as a Christmas gift. She got her wish at age seven and continued writing poetry. These poems eventually evolved into songs. At the age of eight, after an older half-brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, Shakira wrote her first song entitled "Tus gafas oscuras" ("Your dark glasses"). When Shakira was four, her father took her to a local Middle Eastern restaurant, where Shakira first heard the doumbek, a traditional drum used in Arabic music and which typically accompanied belly dancing. Before she knew it, Shakira was dancing on the table, as restaurant patrons responded by clapping enthusiastically. It was then that Shakira said she knew she wanted to be a performer. She enjoyed singing for schoolmates and teachers (and even the nuns) at her Catholic school, but in the second grade was rejected for the school choir because her vibrato was too strong. The music teacher told her that she sounded "like a goat". At school, she says she had been known as "the belly dancer girl", as she would demonstrate every Friday at school a number she had learned. "That's how I discovered my passion for live performance," she says. When she was eight, Shakira's father declared bankruptcy. While the details were sorted out, she stayed with relatives in Los Angeles. On returning to Barranquilla, she was shocked to find that much of what her parents owned had been sold; as she later said "In my childish head, this was the end of the world." To show her that things could be worse, her father took her to a local park to see orphans who lived there, sniffing glue. The images stayed with her and she said to herself "one day I’m going to help these kids when I become a famous artist. Between the ages of ten and thirteen Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla and gained some recognition in the area. It was at about this time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with her and as a result tried to help her career. During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a hotel lobby. Vargas held Shakira in high regard and, returning to the Sony office, gave the cassette to a song and artist director. However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was something of "a lost cause". Vargas, not daunted, was still convinced that Shakira had talent, and set up an audition in Bogotá. He arranged for Sony Colombia executives to arrive at the audition, with the idea of surprising them with Shakira's performance. She performed three songs for the executives and impressed them enough for her to be signed to record three albums.
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