Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll is a multitalented Colombian pop artist, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actress. She was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, to a Spanish mother and an American father with Lebanese lineage. Shakira started dancing at an early age because music inspired her to move. She enjoyed listening to the music of her parents’ culture as well as mainstream English-language songs.
In an interview with Aceshowbiz, Shakira says, “I was so in love with that rock sound, but at the same time because my father is of 100 percent Lebanese descent, I am devoted to Arabic tastes and sounds. Somehow I am a fusion of all of those passions and my music is a fusion of elements that I can make coexist in the same place in one song.”
Shakira began writing her own music at the young age of eight. Between ages 10 and 13, she competed in many musical competitions. Shakira relocated to Bogota from the coast and signed her first recording contract with Sony Music Colombia. Shortly thereafter she released her first album, “Magia,” but the album never gained popularity.
By her fourth album, “Dónde Están los Ladrones?,” Shakira reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Latin Chart for 11 straight weeks and sold over four million copies. “Dónde Están los Ladrones?” reached Multiplatinum status in the U.S. and Platinum in Spain. The album’s explosive success cemented her place as a recognizable singer worldwide.
In 2010 she won Latin Female Artist of The Year at the World Music Awards. This honor moved Shakira to the very top of the list of greatest Latin artists of all time. Winning these titles influenced her to translate her songs into English. After doing so, her fame grew. Shakira’s belly dancing and Arabic rhythms fortified her singing, catapulting her live performances to an incomparable level of intensity and athleticism.
Super Bowl LIV
One of her most important live performances to merge her U.S. and Colombian roots was her jaw-dropping performance with Jennifer Lopez during the Super Bowl LIV halftime show in 2020. The live halftime show, at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., was watched by a record 103 million viewers.
Because the Super Bowl is considered the most quintessential American sporting event, being asked to anchor the halftime show is immediately intimidating. Performing as a Latina carries the additional pressure to deliver the high caliber show Americans have come to expect while making her home country proud. Her performance was nothing short of inspiring and extraordinary. With Jennifer Lopez (J.Lo), a woman of Puerto Rican descent, their partnership was a dazzling visual display of two incredibly powerful, body-confident and self-aware women.
This performance was not without controversy as many American viewers found it to be too risque. According to NBC News, “The most common complaint seemed to be about appropriateness, with some suggesting it should have had an R rating attached to it.”
Additionally, Lopez’s and Shakira’s performance was criticized by many for essentially placing Latin culture center stage. Jon Pareles of The New York Times said the show “was a no-nonsense affirmation of Latin pride and cultural diversity in a political climate where immigrants and American Latinos have been widely demonized.”
Most criticism about their performance seemed to be thinly-veiled racism and when considering what Adam Levine wore on stage during the 2019 halftime show, overtly sexist. NBC News reported, “The FCC got 94 complaints about Adam Levine’s 2019 halftime show, during which he exposed his chest, according to Deadspin.” Conversely, J.Lo and Shakira received over 1,300 complaints.
Shakira’s popularity remained relatively unscathed after the performance with streams for Shakira on Amazon Music increasing 150%.
Despite years of criticism about her sexuality and her body, along with the long road to musical respect, Shakira has secured her place as the greatest female Latin artist of all time.