Shakira’s Sense and Sen­su­al­ity

The Singer Has the Moves, and Is Busy Plan­ning Her Next Ones

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sunday Source - By Juan Forero

BAR­RAN­QUILLA, Colom­bia hen she was just a sec­ond-grader, Shakira Is­abel Me­barak Rip­poll’s dream was to join the choir at the prim-and-proper Maria the Teacher Catholic school in this tra­di­tion­bound Caribbean city. But the mu­sic di­rec­tor felt that her po­tent voice would over­whelm the syrupy cadence of the other chil­dren.

“My voice was strong and I wanted to sing out loud, and he didn’t think I was the right choice for the choir,” she re­calls. “And he never let me be in the choir. It was such a huge frus­tra­tion for me.”

Down­cast, she found so­lace with her par­ents, who en­cour­aged her to en­ter lo­cal singing com­pe­ti­tions. Soon she be­gan rack­ing up the tro­phies. And in her early teens the diminu­tive girl with the throaty, com­mand­ing voice struck out on her own, which as it turns out has been an en­dur­ing fea­ture in her ca­reer.

Hav­ing long shed her last name and dyed her black hair blond, Shakira is now a 30-year-old swivel-hipped bomb­shell who has be­come Latin Amer­ica’s most suc­cess­ful cross­over artist. Last fall at the Latin Grammy Awards, she won four of the five awards for which she was nom­i­nated, in­clud­ing fe­male pop vo­cal album of the year, song of the year and album of the year for “Fi­jación Oral Vol. 1.” But com­ing off the fol­low-up “Oral Fix­a­tion Vol. 2,” her sec­ond English-lan­guage album and fea­tur­ing the smash sin­gle “Hips Don’t Lie,” Shakira is en­ter­ing ter­ri­tory that, for other global stars like her, has some­times re­sulted in cookie-cut­ter mu­sic and artis­tic obliv­ion (see: Ricky Martin). The ques­tion is whether the pres­sures to pro­duce top-sell­ing al­bums will check the in­ven­tive­ness that some mu­sic crit­ics say has set her apart from other sex-shilling pop stars (see: Brit­ney Spears).



Shakira’s voice and sexy stage pres­ence have spelled suc­cess, but she’s de­ter­mined to keep her act fresh.

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