America is well known for their go-to, cookie cutter pop music. It’s rare to find an international star that stays true to their roots as they grow in fame. However, Shakira is clearly very passionate about her culture and where she comes from and expresses that passion in her music.
Shakira was born and raised in Barranueilla, Colombia by her Lebanese father and Colombian mother, making her both Latino and Arabic. Her love for music started when she began writing her own songs at the age of 8 and signing her first record deal at 13.
“The music industry is a whole other world. Shakira was pretty young when she started out in America and it’s impressive to see someone make such an impact without any cultural background from that country. She still supports her culture and everyone seems to happily accept that”
Even though her first two albums went nowhere, she didn’t give up. She took over and laid down the law when she wrote her third album, Pies Descalzos, in 1996 that sky rocketed selling more then three million copies. Not long after she went on to win her first Grammy Award for best Latin pop album in 2000 that successfully found her a place in the Spanish-language music industry. As her fan based increased, she had yet to conquer the Americas.
In 1997 (age 20), she moved to Miami, Florida with her family in hopes of expanding her fan base. She started learning how to write songs in English and, by 2001, completed her first English-language album, Laundry Service. Rising up quickly, this album reached No. 3 on the charts and holds two of her famous songs, “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes.”
In 2006, she brings her famous belly dancing and swinging of the hips into the spotlight in her song “Hips Don’t Lie.” With her multicultural background she was able to bring her Lebanese culture into her music—dancing barefoot and loving life. Many of her songs focus on different areas of her heritage. One song may be more Arabic based and others more Spanish. Either way, she is able to tie her folk/rock style together and present it to America as well.
Over the years, Shakira stayed close to home with her Latin, Arabic, rock style of music and continued to make albums for both the Spanish speaking community and English speaking community. Later, she received her second Grammy Award for best Latin rock/alternative album. Through the years of song writing and album creation, her song, “Waka Waka,” went viral and became the theme song of the FIFA World Cup 2010 making her a global pop star.
Shakira then went on to become a judge on America’s hit TV series The Voice for two years on and off. With her background and cultural intelligence, she has the ability to take on contestants and truly show them the importance and benefits that come from being a diverse pop star in the music industry. The more diverse you are, the more people you are able to reach out to.
That’s not meant to tell an all white American to attempt to sing in Spanish, but more so to teach them to reach out to different audiences—people with different lifestyles, become a relatable artist. Shakira, throughout the years, has made a name for herself worldwide.
Her music style is unique, yet upbeat and always has a message to send. After growing up in multicultural family, she added a culture to her life when moving to America. Though the move wasn’t made until adulthood, she still had to go through a culture shock and adjust to a new lifestyle. To this day, she proudly embraces her roots and has become a cross-cultural person.