She is Shakira
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An internationally famous artist that carries a big responsibility and that inspires many!
On the cover:
A singer, songwriter, dancer and record producer, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripolli was born and raised in Barranquilla, Columbia on February 2, 1977 where she began performing in school, demonstrating Latin American, Arabic, and rock and roll influences and belly dancing abilities.
the Beauty and the Beast!
Her full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, and – SHAKIRA – means ‘Grateful’ (the feminine of Shakir). She was born in Colombia, and she is half Latino and Lebanese. She wrote her first poem at 4 years old and started to sing, perform and compose when she was a teenager, recording her first album when she was 13 years old in Colombia. Her first belly dance impromptu performance happened at 4 years old, when she heard a doumbek playing for the first time at a Middle Eastern restaurant her father took her, which made her started dancing. At school she was known as ‘the belly dance girl’!
I have to confess that deep inside, I also always wanted to be like her! She has inspired millions of people all over the world, not only women, but many men too, and not just because of being sexy! And yes, this includes me. I first heard her music and watched her clips on TV when I was in Brazil back in the 90's. She had black hair, composed and sang rock and roll music, and she was starting to get famous in Latin America. It wasn't very common for a Colombian to become famous in Brazil, but she made it with her album 'Pies Descalzos' (1996). At the time her music had a lot of political content, and she used to already incorporate belly dancing to her presentations.
First Hit & Metamorphoses
The 1996 album was her first hit, but at that point, she had been on the road and performing for almost 10 years already. It is funny how life works in mysterious ways and changes our paths. At the time this album started her fame, she said on an interview that she didn't want to become a role model to people, because she was afraid that if she made any mistakes, and confessed she did many, she didn't want people to follow her mistakes. She also said that she didn't want to be a 'product' and that the best way to get there was being her own self, to be real and natural, because that way people would never discover a face that wasn't real, or a 'fake' herself.
Because of having witness Shakira's first hits as a Latin rock and roll activist artist, it was a little bit shocking for me to see her big transformation when she hit the North American stages. She changed herself, and for me that contradicted her previous statements of being real and natural. 'She became blond!' I thought... but I understood that it was most likely a production requirement to fit the North American market model, and gave myself a chance to accept and embrace her new self. And than she came up with her ultimate hit 'Hips don't Lie', incorporating and fusing more elements of Middle Eastern music and dance, and it was for me love at first sight! I was already a belly dancer, and I absolutely loved it!
She is one of the reasons I committed myself back to my artistic roots, not only as a belly dancer, but as a musician as well. I grew up among artists, and my father was a very famous musician in Brazil (he is actually turning 80 and is still performing!), and as a teenager, after seeing all the difficulties he went through to bring food to the table, I told myself that I didn't want to do that. I also realized that for a woman to become a famous artist was a very difficult path. I believed that women would have to 'make lots of sexual favors' along the way to be able to get somewhere. Now I think that it might be true for some people, but not for all, and after falling in love with Shakira's multifaceted artistic talents, I started to see myself back on stage too. I knew I wasn't going to be a 'Shakira', but she inspired me to something to fulfill my dreams of becoming a professional performer.
As a belly dancer, I loved the idea that she was bringing the art to a totally new level, to huge and bigger international audiences. Although her performances are mostly a 'fusion', and not really considered 'traditional' belly dancing or 'traditional' ME music, her Lebanese roots are strong enough to make it beautiful, appealing, and amazing. Her creativity brought our art to the general public, and started creating a lot of interest for Belly Dancing. For that, I believe that even the extremely traditionalists should be thankful to Shakira, for having inspired so many people to pursue this art. Also, I am a believer that art fusion is evolution of the art, art is always evolving, and our millennial art also evolves beautifully through the world, fusing with diverse cultures and imaginations.
I know I am taking a lot of responsibility here as well, to write an article about such an amazing soul and artist like Shakira, but as much as I adore her, I got very excited with the opportunity to write about her, and took it! She is loved and hated by many, more loved than hated I believe. But let’s be honest, fame and glory awakens a lot of envy and bad feelings, and Shakira's beauty and talent is no exception. But she is strong enough to deal with that, and that might be the reason why her soul chose such a vibrant experience in this life.
She is such an extraordinary human being. I say that because she is not a shallow famous artist who sold over 50 million records, became rich and forgot about caring for others. Fame didn't make her lose her humbleness, she is a person that takes time to help others, to work on meaningful community and humanitarian projects, and really cares for people. She makes generous donations for good causes and is committed to help and create educational programs.
Facts that you might not know about Shakira...
- In 2010 she met her actual fiancé, the famous soccer player Gerard Piquet, they live together in the city of Barcelona, Spain, and they have two baby boys together.
- Because of her passion for gaming, she decided to create, develop and launch a digital app game called ‘Love Rocks’, which is based on her passion for rocks, and is available for free at Google play and AppStore (the download is free, but of course there are offers in-app purchases).
- She believes that we should all love our imperfections! She is SELF-CONFIDENT!
- She used to be a perfectionist, but life has taught her she shouldn’t waste time stressing so much about things.
- She believes belly dancing is SENSUAL, not sexual. She also believes that feeling sexy is empowering.
- Her video for her song ‘Loca’ was completely improvised because she didn't like the script. Because of that she got a couple of fines for riding the motorcycle and not wearing a helmet and for jumping inside a public fountain, but she had A LOT of FUN, and the video ended up reflecting the meaning of the song, because ‘Loca’ means ‘Crazy’.
- She plays basketball and tennis!
- Her older baby is only 3 years old and already knows how to read!
- She is the voice of Gazelle on the Disney computer animated movie Zootopia (2016), and the designers of the character made Gazelle look like Shakira, having curvy hips at Shakira’s request. She also sings the main song of the movie.
- The favorite of her own songs are the songs that she never got to play on the radio.
- She believes that education is the best strategy for development and world peace.
- Her passion for education took her to create her own foundation called ‘Barefoot Foundation’ or in Spanish ‘Fundación Piez Descalzos’ back in 1997 when she was only 18 years old. The foundation focus on supporting children in vulnerability and displacement and building schools. Because of that, in 2011, Barack Obama has appointed her as a member of the Presidential Advisory commission on Educational Excellence for the Hispanic population.
Well, if after reading this, you are not convinced about how much of a great human being Shakira is, all I can say is that you should consider giving yourself a chance to get to know her beyond the mask of the famous celebrity she has become, because she didn't forget who she is, and where she came from. And if you feel like you want to help her on her humanitarian endeavors, visit one her foundation websites and join in! She believes that everyone’s efforts counts.
Miriam Cunha, Contributor: Fusion Artist Yonisha, also known as Miriam Cunha, was born in Guatemala, raised in Brazil, and is currently living in British Columbia, Canada. Miriam inherited her artistic abilities from her mother Miriam Castillo, who is a teacher and a graphic artist, and her father Antonio Cunha (also known as Tony Mell), who is a professional Brazilian musician, arranger and composer and a member of the famous Trio Irakitan. At early ages she was already composing melodies, writing poems, dancing,... (more...)