Pop Star Shakira is Devoted to her cross cultural origins

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.”

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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.

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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.

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  1. I liked how this article highlights how a cross-cultural background should be seen as a strength rather than weakness for individuals. Despite Shakira not speaking English and struggling with her music career at first, she chose to embrace who she was and blend the cultures she was a part of to make something meaningful for tons of listeners. Being true to who you are and sharing what makes you unique can certainly pay off in a world where things are often the same!

  2. Multicultural, cross-cultural, and third culture kids often struggle with identifying their “home,” but I personally think Shakira embodies the life of a TCK despite not leaving home until she was 20. Though she has diverse roots, she fully embraces all the culture she’s grown with, and takes the fact that she doesn’t belong to specific group with a grain of salt. Her music also embodies her persona as multicultural because she utilizes cultural themes from each of her cultures, while creating a sound that is uniquely “Shakira,” which I think would make her the perfect role model for current TCKs.

  3. I loved this article. It taught me a lot about Shakira like how she’s half Arabic. I didn’t know that she was from two different cultures. I also loved the use of media. There were many good pictures of her and there was a video to further show her cultural diversity. I liked how it outlined her success from Spanish singer to English singer to global pop icon.

  4. What I really admire about Shakira is that she made the entire nation of United States listen to her music and her message, when she herself had no background in the US. People like to listen to something that helps them feel closer to themselves, but in her case, her words were truly inspirational to many. That is what makes Shakira such a great artist that is known by many.

  5. I didn’t know that Shakira was from two different cultures, this was very informative. I also loved the use of media. I liked the video that shows her cultural diversity. It was also very cool to see her success from Spanish singer to English singer to global pop icon.

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