Shakira’s culturally fluid background influences the way she writes, produces and sings the music she creates for the world to hear. Not only does she have a fan base in her passport country of Colombia, but she also has fans in the United States, Latin America and Saudi Arabia. She is known for her versatility in music.
This versatility comes from Shakiras cultural fluidity. This term means that she straddles multiple different nationalities, ethnicities and cultures. This is shown throughout the music she writes.
Shakiras Early Life & Career
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on Feb. 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Columbia to a Colombian mother and Lebanese father. Both her Latin and Arabic heritage are honored throughout her music. Shakira began writing music at just eight years old and got her first record deal at 13.
Although she had become wildly successful in the international market, at the age of 20 she had not broken the U.S. charts. Instead of this defeating her, she moved to Miami, Fla., U.S.A., and taught herself to write songs in English. The move from Colombia to the United States classifies Shakira as a Third Culture Adult. This is incredibly challenging as she had never traveled outside of Colombia nor wrote in English.
While reflecting on this experience Shakira stated during an interview that,
Writing in English was a major challenge. I didn’t want other songwriters to write for me, I wanted to preserve the spirit of my songs in Spanish. I am the same Shakira in English as I am in Spanish.Shakira, Courtsey of IMDb
She wanted to stay true to the sound of her music and did not want to change for any one culture. The only change was the language she spoke. Because of this she gained many English speaking fans from around the world.
Shakira’s breakout album in the United States was “Laundry Services. “The music she writes is incredibly catchy and heavily influenced by her Columbian roots. Shakira is the perfect example of cultural fluidity within music today.
Cultural Fluidity in the 2020 U.S. Super Bowl Half-time Performance
The National Football League (NFL) is set in the United States but in 2020, showcased Latin roots within the half time performance. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez both proudly performed with their Latin influences in mind. According to NBCNews the performance is for a “message of unity.”
Before the performance she said,
“I feel incredibly honored and humbled to be, in a way, next to J.Lo representing the Latino community that is such an important force in the United States.”Shakira February 2nd, 2020
Why Many Cultures Love Shakiras Music
The music she makes sounds inherently Latin, but Shakira sings in both English and Spanish so that listeners all over the world can enjoy her music. She ensures that her music is culturally fluid and enjoyable to listeners across the globe. Shakira never forgot the cultures she immersed herself in. She exposes her U.S. listeners to music that is influenced by different cultures other than their own. Due to her music’s unique brand, it is easy to see how she has become the highest-selling Columbian artist of all time. Also the second most successful female Latin singer of all time, behind Gloria Estefan. Shakira’s music transcends cultural norms, and takes on a life and personality of its own.