Shakira, full name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, is a Colombian musician who attained popularity in both Spanish and English-speaking countries and was one of the most popular Latin American recording artists by the early 2000s.

Shakira, who was born in Colombia to a Lebanese father and a local Colombian mother, began belly dancing at a young age and by the age of ten was writing songs and competing in talent shows. 

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Shakira was signed to a record deal in 1990 after a local theatre producer helped her score an audition with a Sony Corp. executive. However, her first two albums, Magia (1991) and Peligro (1993) were only marginally successful. Shakira began her music career in a stunning manner with Pies descalzos after taking a sabbatical from recording to perform in the Latin soap serial El oasis (1995). Several singles from the album charted, including Estoy aqu, Pienso en ti, and Un poco de amor.

Shakira released the album Dónde están los ladrones? in 1998, which includes several noteworthy singles. She is most known for her Latin Grammy wins for best female pop vocal performance (Ojos as) and best rock vocal performance (Octavo da). She subsequently concentrated her efforts on breaking into the American market.

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In 2001, her album MTV Unplugged (2000) received the Grammy Award for best Latin pop album, and the following year, she launched her debut English-language album, Laundry Service. Although some criticised her English-language songwriting abilities (Shakira penned all of her own lyrics), Laundry Service sold more than 13 million copies worldwide.

Shakira’s crossover success continued in 2005, with the release of Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 in Spanish in June, and Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 in English in November. Both albums began in the top five in the United States, while her 2006 single Hips Don’t Lie (with Wyclef Jean) topped charts worldwide.

At that year’s Latin Grammy Awards, she won song-of-the-year and record-of-the-year for La Tortura, and Fijación oral, vol. 1 was chosen album of the year as well as best female pop vocal album; it also received a Grammy for best Latin rock/alternative album. Oral Fixation Tour, a live recording, was released in 2007. Shakira also performed in Hamburg as part of Live Earth, a global concert series intended to raise awareness about climate change and environmental sustainability.

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Shakira’s next English-language album, She Wolf (2009), featured an electro-pop sound. She had another international breakthrough the following year with Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), a collaboration with a South African band, which was chosen as the official song of the 2010 World Cup. The song was eventually included on her breezy eclectic 2010 album Sale el sol, which won a Latin Grammy for best female pop vocal album.

Shakira was a mentor on the American televised singing contest The Voice in 2013-14. Shakira (2014), which featured a duet with Rihanna, and El Dorado (2017), which won the Grammy Award for best Latin pop album and the Latin Grammy for best modern pop vocal album, were among her later releases. El Dorado also included the single La bicicleta, a duet with Carlos Vives that was nominated for Latin Grammys for best record of the year and best song of the year. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez will perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2020.

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Other accolades

Shakira committed a significant amount of time and energy to social problems. She became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2003, travelling abroad to raise awareness of the plight of children in developing nations. She also founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation to assist children displaced by conflict in Colombia.

In 2011, she received the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year and the Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year awards for her philanthropic work with her Barefoot Foundation and her contributions to music. In 2011, she was nominated to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in the United States, and the French government made her a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2012.

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In the year 2000, Shakira began dating Argentine lawyer Antonio de la Rua. Shakira remarked in a 2009 interview that their relationship operated as a married couple and that “they don’t need papers for that.”

Shakira and de la Rua separated in August 2010 after ten years together, citing “a mutual decision to take time apart from our romantic relationship.” The couple “view this period of separation as temporary,” she added, with de la Ra managing Shakira’s “business and career interests as he has always done.”

As previously reported in September 2012, de la Rua sued Shakira in April 2013, seeking $100 million in damages after Shakira abruptly ended her commercial partnership with him in October 2011. In August 2013, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed his complaint.

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In 2011, Shakira began dating Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué, a centre-back for FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. Piqué, who shares a birthday with Shakira and is exactly ten years younger, first met her in the spring of 2010 when he starred in the music video for Shakira’s song Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

On 22 January 2013, Shakira gave birth to the couple’s first son Milan in Barcelona, Spain, where the family had relocated. On January 29, 2015, Shakira gave birth to their second son, Sasha. Shakira and Piqué were named one of the “World’s Most Powerful Couples” by Forbes. After 12 years of partnership, the pair announced their separation in a joint statement in 2022.

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Shakira claimed in 2020 that she had completed an Ancient Philosophy course through the University of Pennsylvania, defining it as an unrealistic passion of hers.

Tax fraud controversy

Shakira was implicated in the Paradise Papers in November 2017. She was revealed to be the sole stakeholder of a Malta-based firm used to transfer $30 million in music rights. Her lawyers maintained that her usage of the firm was permissible.

Spanish authorities launched an investigation into Shakira’s finances in 2018, owing in part to material published in the Paradise Papers. Prosecutors said she did not pay taxes in Spain between 2012 and 2014 when she was living in Spain with Piqué and their family, but Shakira claimed she retained her primary house in the Bahamas and was otherwise touring globally.

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In July 2021, a Spanish judge found that there was “evidence of criminality” sufficient to bring Shakira to trial on tax fraud accusations.

The Pandora Papers revealed in 2021 that Shakira applied for three offshore entities in 2019. Her attorneys told LaSexta that this documentation was filed as part of the process of dissolving existing firms, not to establish new ones. They further stated that the companies had no revenue or activity and that the Spanish authorities were aware of their existence.

After failing to negotiate an agreement with the Spanish Prosecution Ministry in July 2022, the singer opted to go to trial to prove her innocence. The prosecutor requested an eight-year prison term from the judge for six alleged tax fraud charges.