Shakira

Few musicians have the ability to cross the barriers of language, but Shakira has managed to crash through those borders with resounding success. With two Grammy Awards and over 50 million albums sold worldwide, the Colombian artist has endeared herself to fans across the world, and has broken new ground in the music industry -- all while devoting time to helping thousands of children in need.

Born to a Colombian mother and Lebanese father, Shakira Mebarak was introduced early in life to a variety of music from multiple cultures. By the time she was 11, Shakira was learning guitar, writing songs and performing in talent shows. In 1991, at just 13, she signed a record deal and released her first album, which gained her attention in her home country. She followed it up with a second album in 1993 before taking a role on a soap opera.

In 1995, Shakira returned to music with a clear direction. Her next Spanish-language album, "Pies Descalzos," was a slow success, but eventually hit #1 in eight countries and even went platinum in the US. Another even more successful album followed in 1998 that went to the top of the US Latin charts. It was at that point that breaking into the mainstream US music market became possible, and Shakira set to work on an English language album, "Laundry Service."

The album was a major success, entering the charts at #3. In less than a year, it had been certified triple platinum. Following a tour and some time off, Shakira then set to work on writing new music in both English and Spanish. This led to a duo of albums, the Spanish-language "Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1" and the English "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2," both of which hit the Top 10. The first album spawned the hit "La Tortura," which became the first Spanish-language song performed at the MTV Video Music Awards. The second contained the smash hit "Hips Don't Lie," which is Shakira's biggest single to date.

Remembering her childhood, Shakira has used her success to the benefit of others. She founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation and worked hard to help provide education and care for impoverished children.

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