Childhood and beginning

Shakira was born to a Colombian mother, Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado and an American born father of Lebanese Catholic descent, William Mebarak Chadid, in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she says she grew up among the Lebanese, Jewish and Italian communities." Shakira, which means "grateful" in Arabic, is named after her paternal grandmother. She was one of seven siblings, one of whom is her road manager. Shakira attended Catholic school and began writing and composing music at the age of eight, and later choreographed dance routines. At school, she says she had been known as "the belly dancer girl", as she would demonstate a number she learned every Friday at school. "That's how I discovered my passion for live performance," she says.[1] One of her first songs was called "Tus Gafas Oscuras" (Your Dark Glasses), which was about her father's grief over his son who had died in a car accident. At the age of ten, Shakira tried out for her school choir, but she was not taken because her voice was "too strong."

Between the ages of ten to thirteen, Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla, and gained some recognition in the area. It was around this time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with Shakira and as a result attempted to help her career. During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a motel lobby. Vargas held Shakira in good regards and returned to the Sony office and gave the cassette to a song and artist director. However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was somewhat of "a lost cause". Vargas, not daunted, was still convinced that Shakira had talent, and set up an audition in Bogotá. He arranged for Sony Colombia executives to arrive at the audition, with the idea of surprising them with Shakira's performance. She performed three songs for the executives and impressed them enough for her to be subsequently signed to record three albums.

Magia (Magic) was Shakira's debut album, recorded with Sony Colombia in 1991, when she was 15. The album did not fare well commercially, selling less than one thousand copies. After Magia, Shakira released Peligro (Danger) in 1993. The album was better received than Magia, but Shakira decided to take a hiatus from recording so that she could graduate from high school.

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