It's one thing that Shakira Mebarak Ripoll is hypnotically gorgeous. Or that she is the darling of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who has remarked on her "will of granite" as well as her "innocent sensuality that she seems to have invented by herself." Or that whenever I hear Hips Don't Lie I smile. It's not enough that she is Colombian and yet gave one of the most memorable performances during President Obama's inauguration, and spoke with the president-elect, (he asked about her coursework at UCLA). She is a rabid activist, working toward quantifiably increased early education in all of Latin America. She has managed to snag some of the biggest pop stars in the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking worlds to her cause, along with the philanthropic support of some of Latin America's richest families (as well as Warren Buffett's son Howard. Unlike the usual do-gooder pop star, Shakira has not tried to capitalize on her popularity to help the population of some distant impoverished land, but of the Ibero-American world from which she--and those working with her--live. Bono has said that, "when she gets going on the subject of child poverty she can be pretty scary." There was a piece in the New York Times Magazine (June 7, 2009) with a feature on her work and dedication. Much of the above information is taken from it.
I had heard of Shakira when I went to Huatulco on vacation with Bea about four years ago. But that's as far as it went-- I heard of her, but never heard her. We were sitting in a bar/restaurant, munching on appetizers and throwing tequila down my neck when my eyes were drawn to the widescreen TV mounted high on the wall. I was fairly captivated by the brunette singing, with a toned down, mostly acoustic back-up band. I don't speak Spanish but agree wholeheartedly that it is a loving tongue. And Shakira's voice is as unique as it is versatile. I asked the waiter who she was, and he told me Shakira, in a way that made me a little foolish for even having to ask. The next day, we stopped at a Sanborn's and I picked up the MTV unplugged disc, along with Sasha Sokol's Ranchera music disc. We listened to them all the way to Oaxaca. Since then, I have made Sasha's earlier disc, Once Once one of my all-time favorites and have every Shakira disc. What she does enhances the image so tremendously. And she doesn't o it only when the cameras are on and the papparazzi's lenses focus on her. The mark of a true believer and someone who truly matters. As Wyclef Jean sings on Hips Don't Lie, she "makes a man want to speak Spanish."