Shakira, a Popstar in the Service of Children

Published: 16. 7. 2021
Author: Silvia Mária Petrovits
Photo: Photo
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She amazes her fans not only with her captivating voice, but also with her innocently seductive belly dance and graceful twisting of the hips. Latin rock, Latin pop, soul, world music, dance, electronic and alternative music. All these genres are the domain of 44-year-old Shakira.

Her biggest hits “Waka Waka”, “Underneath Your Clothes”, “Whenever, Wherever”, “Hips Don't Lie” consistently ranked in the first places both in the world and Czech and Slovak charts. Many of us grew up with her songs and, thanks to “Waka Waka” - the anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the whole world knows her.

Hard beginnings

Shakira has dedicated her whole life to music. As a teenager, she was discouraged from singing, until in 1991, as a result of winning three singing competitions, she got her first contract with the Sony Music label. The first two purely Spanish albums failed commercially. She gained fame with her third quasi-debut album Pies Descalzos, then popular only in Latin America. She broke worldwide with the help of experienced manager Emilio Estefan, husband of the famous singer Gloria Estefan who also played an important role in her world career. On the old continent she started her success first in 1998 with the album ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? And then she had a huge audience reach with English-language singles. The first of these was the bilingual album Laundry Service in 2001, the hits from which made her a megastar. It sold over 20 million copies, and Shakira went on a world tour with it. In Slovakia, the single “Objection” has indelibly merged with the brand of a private radio station, which used it in its launch campaign.

Two and a half years in seclusion

After a short break in seclusion, she returned in 2005 with the Spanish album Fijación Oral vol. 1 and the English album Oral Fixation vol. 2, which was another extremely successful double album, the singles of which were at the top of the charts for many weeks. Two of them became the songs of the year. The single “La Tortura” in 2006 and the subsequent successful hit “Hips Don't Lie”, which reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. The song received seven nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The anthem brought her love

Shortly after appearing in the half-time NBA All-star Games game, she announced that she was going to sing the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with the South African band Freshlyground. The “Waka Waka” Championship anthem, based on the traditional Zangalewa song of African soldiers, became one of her biggest hits. While filming the video, she met her partner, football player Gerard Piqué. They have two sons now - Milan and Sasha. As she admits, family is paramount to her. So it's no wonder that the couple has managed to cope with all the disagreements the media have talked about.

UNICEF Ambassador

Not only has she an unmistakable voice, but also a big heart. In 1997, she founded the Fundación Pies Descalzos to help children. It focuses on the availability of education and nutrition for children in need. It also helps victims affected by natural disasters. Shakira has been rewarded for this by being appointed a UNICEF Ambassador. She was named the German ZDF television channel’s "Charity Personality of the Year” in 2007. She designed a collection of toys - First Steps - for the manufacturer Fisher-Price for children under the age of 18 months. The proceeds from the sale of these toys were donated to her foundation. She is also involved in the projects of British prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, for the protection of the environment.

Shakira’s disputes

As is often the case in show business, it is probably no surprise that she has faced some litigation. Twice - in 2014 and again in 2017 - she was sued for plagiarism. The first time was regarding the song “Loca”, the origin of which was appropriated by the Dominican composer Ramon "Arias" Vasquez. Although a New York court ruled in its first verdict that her song had been plagiarized, that judgment was later overturned. The second dispute concerned the hit “La Bicicleta”, for which she was sued by Cuban singer Liván Rafael Castellanos. The National Directorate of Copyright (Dirección Nacional de Derechos de Autor) decided that these were two completely different works in terms of text and music.

2017 was quite dramatic for Shakira, in addition to her name being associated with the Paradise Papers and tax debts in Spain, she suffered vocal cord bleeding, for which she had to postpone the El Dorado world tour and threatened to possibly end her career. Fortunately, her vocal cords recovered. Hopefully, once the pandemic is over, she will also tour Europe and delight us with a new album.


Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born 2nd February 1977 in Barranquille) is a Colombian-Lebanese singer and songwriter and coach of two series of The Voice competition.

She has been active in the music industry for over three decades. She usually writes her own songs and lyrics. Fresh catchy melodies, with even a pinch of musical experiment, breathe oriental charm and elements of Latin music.

She has released 11 studio albums, 3 compilation albums, 5 live albums, 2 EPs, 68 singles and 62 music videos. She is the best-selling Latin performer, selling more than 75 million albums and singles.

As one of the most acclaimed artists of all time, she has won, among others, 3 Grammy Awards and 13 Latin Grammy Awards. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, said: "Shakira's music has a personal stamp which does not sound like anyone else and nobody can sing and dance like she does, at whatever age, with a sensuality so innocent that seems to be her own invention".


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