Shakira Mebarak (full name: Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) was born February 2, 1977, in Barranquilla, Colombia, into a poor family. Her mother was a native Colombian and her father was of Lebanese descent, and so as a child Shakira soaked up music from both cultures; she also listened heavily to English-language rock & roll, listing her favorite bands in later interviews as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Police, the Cure, and Nirvana. Shakira wrote her first song at age eight, began entering (and winning) talent competitions at age ten, and started learning the guitar at age 11; one story runs that around this age, she was kicked out of her school choir for singing too forcefully. In 1990, at age 13, Shakira moved to Bogotá in hopes of pursuing a modeling career, but wound up signing a record deal with Sony’s Colombian division instead. Her 1991 debut album, Magia (Magic), was comprised of songs she’d written over the past five or six years, including some of her earliest efforts. Although it didn’t break internationally, the record started to make a name for her in her home country. Dissatisfied with the pop inclinations of the follow-up, 1993’s Peligro (Danger), Shakira changed direction for a time, joining the cast of the Colombian soap opera El Oasis in 1994.
Shakira Performing Live