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Shakira: 1977—: Singer, Songwriter

Achieved International Superstardom

1998's Donde Están Los Ladrones? (Where are the Thieves?) went multi-platinum throughout Latin America, Spain, and the United States where the Hispanic-market embraced Shakira as the new face of the Latin music invasion. The album reached the number one spot on Billboard's Latin 50, scored a Grammy nomination, and helped secure Shakira the title of Latin Female Artist of the Year at the 1998 World Music Awards. At the 2000 Latin Grammy Awards, two songs from the album won awards. However, it was her sizzling performance at the Latin Grammy's that mesmerized U.S. audiences. With her rock-hewn vocals, hip swirling moves, and indomitable Latin sex appeal Shakira seduced the American music scene. The fact that her sultry looks were as magnifi-cent as her musical talent didn't hurt either. Shakira had become a bona fide international superstar. Shakira was suddenly everywhere. Her face appeared on the cover of countless magazines. She was signed to a lucrative Pepsi endorsement deal. MTV came calling and in 1999 she released an album recorded on "MTV Unplugged," the music channel's acoustic artist showcase. Colombia named her their Goodwill Ambassador. Even the pope took notice and granted Shakira an audience at the Vatican. At the same time she managed to provide support for Pies Descalzos a children's charity she had founded in 1997 to help Latin American orphans. And, much to the delight of the omnipresent Spanish-language tabloids, her high profile life didn't prevent her from finding true love with Antonio de la Rúa, the handsome son of then Argentinean president, Fernando de la Rúa.

With superstar status throughout the Spanish-speaking world, multi-platinum albums, a famous well-heeled boyfriend, and immense financial success, it seemed as if Shakira had it all. Yet, there was still something missing—cross-over success. She wanted to become an star in the English-speaking world too. "I want my music to transcend all the barriers," she explained to Latina. "The spirit of conquest is a trait that has survived in human beings from the beginning. I want if for the same reason the Spaniards wanted to come to America. To be able to sink my Colombian flag in this land, that is a motivation."

Having relocated to Miami with her parents, Shakira became close to Gloria and Emilio Estefan who treated her like a little sister. Their support helped Shakira believe that she could record an album in English. "Gloria injected me [with] so much confidence,"Shakira told the Los Angeles Times. Originally, Estefan had offered to translate Shakira's songs and help her with the pronunciations during recording. However, for control freak Shakira, this wouldn't do. "I can't hire other people to write songs for me,"Shakira told Time. "I have to write them myself." So with characteristic determination, Shakira set out to learn English. With well-worn copies of Walt Whitman poems and English rhyming dictionaries, she started to gain control of the language. Using it to express her deepest feelings through song was another problem altogether. "I didn't want to make anything that was not from the heart, that was not honest enough," she told the Los Angeles Times. "And it was quite a challenge, because I was born in Spanish and raised in Spanish. I live in Spanish. I love in Spanish." Finally, she wrote the first song, "Objection. " "I prayed and asked God to send me a good song today, and I remember I started writing the song a couple of hours after," she related on www.Shakira.com. That accomplishment gave her the confidence to finish the album.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyShakira: 1977—: Singer, Songwriter Biography - Found Fame At An Early Age, Achieved International Superstardom, Remained Committed To Her Roots