Shakira, born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll in Barranquilla, Columbia, has been shaking her hips for more than 20 years, becoming one of the biggest international stars of her generation.
Often referred to as the “Queen of Latin Music,” the 46-year-old singer and songwriter has sold over 95 million records, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time, and is credited with opening the doors of the international market for other Latin artists.
Earlier this year, Shakira won the Billboard Woman of the Year award at the Latin Women in Music Gala. Throughout her career, Shakira has received numerous accolades including three Grammy Awards, twelve Latin Grammy Awards, thirty-nine Billboard Latin Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But through all her success, she’s struggled with personal heartbreak, including her ex leaving her for a much younger woman. Here, Shakira’s incredible rise to fame, and how she’s more confident at age 46 and how being hopeful helps her rising above all the drama.
Shakira was a musical prodigy at a young age
Shakira was bitten by the performance bug at the age of four, when her dad took her to a local Middle Eastern restaurant and she began belly dancing on a table to the traditional doumbek drum. She enjoyed singing for classmates and teachers at her Catholic school, but was rejected for the school choir in second grade because her vibrato was too strong.
Undeterred, every Friday at school she would show off a number she had learned and became known as “the belly dancer girl.”
Shakira’s childhood in Columbia was also the impetus for her writing skills, penning her first poem “La Rosa de Cristal” (The Crystal Rose) at age four. Shakira was fascinated watching her father write stories on his typewriter, and as a gift, she received that typewriter at age seven. She continued to write poems on it, which would later become songs.
Gaining recognition from various local events as a performer, she was rejected by a Sony Columbia executive. However, filled with self-confidence, Shakira later that year performed three songs for other Sony executives and impressed them enough for her to be signed to record three albums before she was a teenager.
Shakira’s early successes
Her debut album, Magia, was recorded at the age of thirteen. After recording her second studio album, Peligro, Shakira was not pleased with the outcome, so she took a break in her fledgling career to graduate from high school.
She returned to the recording studio under Sony Music in 1995, and her third studio album titled Pies Descalzos was a global success. It reached number five on the US Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, spawning six hit singles.
Her fourth studio album, Dónde Están los Ladrones? was produced by Shakira with music legend Emilio Estefan Jr. released in 1998. It has since sold over 7 million copies worldwide.
A Grammy Award nomination followed and her first live album, MTV Unplugged, was rated as one of her best ever live performances. There was no going back to her humble roots where her distinct vibrato voice was unappreciated.
Shakira began working on an English crossover album, learning the language with the help of Gloria Estefan. “Whenever, Wherever,” called “Suerte” in Spanish was the first release from this English album. A high note was reached in 2002 when she performed “Dude Looks Like a Lady” at Aerosmith’s MTV Icon; she also joined Cher, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige and the Dixie Chicks for VH1 Divas Live Las Vegas.
Shakira becomes a household name
As the years went on, Forbes named Shakira the fourth top-earning female artist in the music industry in 2008. Singing at the Lincoln Memorial, collaborating with the South African group Freshlyground and performing at the World Cup kick-off and closing in 2016 came in quick succession.
Then came the Super Bowl LIV halftime show in 2020 with Jennifer Lopez. Shakira proudly brought two Columbian dance styles to the Super Bowl while singing “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).” Instead of changing up her style to fit the Super Bowl’s massive audience, Shakira performed champeta and mapale dances, again showing her self-confidence to an audience of millions.
Shakira’s tumultuous personal life
In 2000, Shakira began a ten year relationship with Argentine lawyer Antonio de la Rua, only to later separate, releasing a statement that it was a mutual decision. De la Rua kept a business relationship with his former lover, but in 2013, he sued Shakira for $100 million he believed he was owed after she suddenly terminated their business partnership. His lawsuit was later dismissed.
In 2011, Shakira began a relationship with the handsome Spanish football player Gerard Pique, who is ten years her junior. The relationship produced two sons, Milan in 2013 and Sasha in 2015. The couple reveled in their popularity and power, making Forbes list of World’s Most Powerful Couples in 2013. Sadly, the union came to an end in 2022 after Pique was caught cheating with a much younger woman.
A heartbreaking split
The very public breakup with Pique in 2022 was around the same time Shakira’s beloved dad was hospitalized following a horrific fall. Her father was visiting Barcelona to console her during the breakup when he was in an accident ending in an ICU stay. “I was finding out through the press that I had been betrayed,” Shakira said to People. “My mother has been by his side day and night.” Luckily her father recovered well, but the heartache was still a lot for the star to handle, but she remains hopeful for the future.
“I have gone through denial, rage, pain, acceptance, grief, hope, deception, hope again, excitement. So many emotions and feelings that at times seem mixed, that I have been able to untangle only through my songs, to understand myself better,” she told People en Espanol. “There comes a time in the life of every woman where she no longer depends on someone else to love and accept herself just as she is.”
Shakira and Pique’s age gap was never an issue, but the woman Pique is now dating, Clara Chia Marti, is nearly half Shakira’s age. While Shakira has tried to take the high road, both Pique and his new girlfriend have allegedly made digs at Shakira regarding her age, with Pique reportedly saying that he feels younger than ever since the split.
In the wake of their split, Shakira has used music as an outlet for her feelings, making digs right back at Pique in songs with lines like, “I’m worth two 22-year-olds,” adding: “You swapped a Ferrari for a [Renault] Twingo/You swapped a Rolex for a Casio.”
Shakira focusing on being a mother
Over the last several years, Shakira has made it clear to everyone that she’s a mom first. In 2016, she canceled two shows to stay home with her young son Sasha while he was sick. Despite the canceled shows, fans supported the singer.
“Being a mother is one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. Nothing has made me so self-conscious as being a mom. Every day I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I just want to improve in the job, the hardest job on earth,” she’s said, making it clear that protecting her sons Milan, 9, and Sasha, 7. “I try to conceal the current situation and to protect them because that’s my number one mission in life.”
With her high recognition factor, Shakira tries to give her sons as normal a life as possible and that includes not playing her own music at home. “I can’t deny they can’t escape the reality that I’m a public person, but I try to provide as much normalcy as I can. ” Shakira, Sasha and Milan moved from Barcelona to Miami in April. “I settled in Barcelona to give my sons stability, the same that we are now looking for in another corner of the world besides family, friends and the seas,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
Shakira’s budding romance
In the wake of her heartbreak, Shakira has been linked to Miami Heat player Jimmy Butler, and the two are taking it slow as they continue to go out on dates.
“They have been out a few times, but things are very new and it’s too early to tell if there’s long-term potential there,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly, adding that for Shakira, 46, their 13-year age difference “doesn’t bother” her “whatsoever.”
The source continued, “Jimmy makes Shakira smile, and she feels happy spending time with him.” We hope good things are on the horizon for her!
Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years. Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living. She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for Women, Elle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva. Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content. She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.