The Colombian chanteuse became the world's biggest Latin crossover artist with her hit album 'Laundry Service' in 2001.

Born to parents of Colombian and Lebanese decent, Shakira Mebarak discovered her love of music at an early age. Penning her first song aged eight, she thrived on a healthy mix of both world music and bands as diverse as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Nirvana. One of her first songs was called ‘Tus Gafas Oscuras’ (Your Dark Glasses), about her father’s grief at the loss of his son in a car accident.

A regular on the local Colombian talent show circuit, Shakira got her lucky break after moving to Bogotá, initially with hopes of pursuing a career in modelling. Thanks to local theatre producer Monica Ariza, the talented young star-to-be was thrust under the nose of Sony Colombia executive, Ciro Vargas. Following a successful live showcase, Shakira was signed to the label and went on to release her first album, ‘Magia’ in 1991. The album failed to grab attention on the international market, but did wonders for Shakira’s profile in her home country. A second album, ‘Peligro’, in 1993 left Shakira dissatisfied with the music industry and she returned home to take a role in the Colombian soap opera, ‘El Oasis’.

Shakira’s first English album, ‘Laundry Service’, released in 2001 was to be the catalyst that would launch the young star onto the international stage. Thanks to the collaborating talents of Gloria Estefan, the album went on to sell in excess of 13 million copies and spawned the monster hits ‘Whenever, Wherever’ and ‘Underneath Your Clothes’. The combination of strong Latin rhythms and Shakira’s unique voice made her instantly recognisable.

In 2002, Shakira set off on a world tour entitled ‘Tour of the Mongoose’. This unusually named show was based on the little known fact that a mongoose can defeat a cobra. Huge visuals to demonstrate this were even beamed onto screens to dazzle, and probably terrify, audiences.

Following this exhausting tour, Shakira took a break from recording, leaving her record company to satisfy hungry fans with a remix collection ‘Laundry Service: Washed and Dried’ in 2002 and a live album, ‘Live & Off the Record’ in 2004.

Having amassed a healthy collection of both English and Spanish songs, Shakira released both ‘Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1’ and ‘Oral Fixation, Vol. 2’ in 2005. Both albums performed well thanks to a string of awards, including the 2005 MTV Best Female, and the phenomenally successful second single ‘Hips Don't Lie’ featuring Wyclef Jean. In 2006, the duo was invited to perform the song to millions of football fans at the 2006 World Cup.

2006 proved to be a hugely successful year for the young talent after she received six Latin Billboard Awards, making her the biggest winner of the night. She was also honoured at a United Nations ceremony thanks to her Pies Descalzos Foundation, a charity that helps to protect children from violence in Colombia.

In 2009, Shakira released ‘She Wolf’, her sixth studio album. The title track was a worldwide hit, earning her a top five chart position in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The singer released her seventh studio album the following year. Speaking to Billboard magazine, Shakira said ‘Sale el Sol’ has "two currents". "One is a lot about love and love experiences and emotions. And the other side of it is very joyful, and upbeat," she explained. her latest album, 'Shakira' was released in 2014.

On the personal front, Shakira began dating the son of the then president of Argentina, Antonio de la Rúa in 2000. However, in 2011, after 11 years together, the couple announced their plans to separate. In a statement, the pair said they had mutually decided to take time apart. The singer later wrote that the couple "view this period of separation as temporary and as a time of individual growth as we continue to be partners in our business and professional lives".

Shakira revealed in March 2011 that she is in a relationship with Spanish footballer Gerard Pique, who, at 24, is ten years her junior. The singer posted a picture of Pique on her Twitter page with a caption reading:"I present to you my sunshine". They had a son together, Milan Pique Mebarak, who was born in 2013.