Shakira is one of the world’s biggest music stars – a crossover phenomenon with hits in both Spanish and English. She’s won three Grammys, 11 Latin Grammys and amassed a $350 million fortune. On her 43rd birthday, she hit one of her highest notes: performing at the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl with Jennifer Lopez. It’s a remarkable journey for a woman who was cut from her elementary school choir in Colombia – her classmates said she sounded like a goat. Shakira now lives in Spain. We went to see her there and, as we first reported in January, found an artist bristling with restless energy and drive that sometimes torture her, but always propel her. Lifting her to one of the biggest stages in the world: the Super Bowl in Miami.
Two months before kickoff, Shakira lit up center court at the Davis Cup tennis tournament in Madrid with the kind of full throated, hip thrusting performance that has electrified audiences for more than two decades.
This was her first live performance in more than a year … a warm up for the Super Bowl and a showcase for the distinctive music and eye-catching moves that have catapulted her to one-name international pop star status.
Shakira fills huge stadiums around the world, her devotees cry out – sometimes just plain cry — to hear hits like, “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Bill Whitaker: I’ve seen you running around. You go from guitar to drums, and the dancing and the singing. It just looks like you’re having so much fun. Are you?
Shakira: Oh yeah. I have a blast on stage. I feel that that’s my turf. It’s a comfortable place for me.
Bill Whitaker: Do you feel the music?
Shakira: I listen to music through my body. Even when I’m mixing songs in the recording studio, if I don’t move, I know that there’s something wrong. I say, “Do you see them moving? Do you see my hips moving? It’s not working.” (LAUGH) Hips don’t lie.
Bill Whitaker: A lot of your dance moves are quite provocative.
Shakira: That’s what my mom says. (LAUGH)
Bill Whitaker: That’s what your mom says.
Shakira: Now you’re sounding like her. (LAUGHTER) It just comes out like that.
Bill Whitaker: So you’re just feelin’ it and that’s— that’s what happens.
Shakira: It’s the way I move, baby. (LAUGHTER)
When it comes to her moves and her music, Shakira leaves nothing to chance. The Davis Cup performance in November was just eight minutes. She spent a full month rehearsing.
When we dropped in, we saw an artist in constant motion and total control. She fine tunes the fine points of every performance, no detail is too small. Whether working on the choreography critiquing the dancers or directing the timing of the show.
They used to call James Brown the hardest working man in show business. It seemed to us Shakira is vying for that title. In the studio and on the stage, Shakira strives for perfection.
Shakira: I can really be hard on myself wanting it to be 100% perfect but I know perfection doesn’t exist but it’s a lesson I haven’t quite learned yet. If it were up to me I wouldn’t be celebrating any of my performances.
Bill Whitaker: None of them?
Shakira: None of them, no. There’s always something that I wish would have been done differently and I coulda done better.
Where she sees imperfection, her multitude of fans see incandescence. She has sold 80 million records worldwide. Five albums cracked the U.S. Billboard top 10. She writes or co-writes nearly all her songs.
Bill Whitaker: What does creating the music do for you?
Shakira: Sometimes it saves me a visit to a shrink. (LAUGH) Literally, it’s such—
Bill Whitaker: It’s cathartic?
Shakira: Such a therapeutic, yeah, cathartic vehicle, you know, for me to express my thoughts and my angst. Sometimes I’m just restless, and I don’t know what it is. And I think it’s— what I just need is a piece of paper and a pen or my computer, and just start writing. And then being able to put music to those words. It’s something really beautiful, I guess. (LAUGH)
Her distinctive sound is a blend of the music and colors of home, the coastal Colombian city of Barranquilla, a melting pot of cultures: indigenous, European, African, Middle Eastern.
Shakira: I have a little bit of everything in my blood.
Bill Whitaker: You mix all of those elements with your dance and the sounds of your music.
Shakira: You know, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an anthropologist. I guess
that somehow I’m kind of vicariously being one through my music.
One of her biggest hits: “Waka Waka,” the anthem for the 2010 soccer World Cup, had African roots.
Shakira: There are songs that make you feel like a dog biting your own tail. You never—
(LAUGH) you never figure it out. And there are songs that are so easy that just come to you. Songs like “Waka Waka,” for example.
Bill Whitaker: That came to you easily?
Shakira: The music and the lyrics came to me at the same time. (SINGS LYRICS) “You’re a good soldier, choosing your battles, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, back in the saddle.” I’m, like, “I need a paper, and a pen. A paper and a pen, someone. Run.”
“Waka Waka” hit number one in more than 15 countries, racked up more than 2.5 billion views on YouTube, and it swept Gerard Pique into her life. The Barcelona soccer star was one of several World Cup players who appeared in the music video.
Gerard Piqué: For me, it was, like, very shocking. I had to dance and (LAUGH). I’m not…
Shakira: Well, that’s not dance, going like this.
Gerard Piqué: No. No. I had to—
Shakira: That’s not dancing. (LAUGH)
Gerard Piqué: I had to do some— some— some movement. Yeah.
Shakira: You did a little bit of that, of the waka.
Bill Whitaker: You had to do the “Waka Waka” movement?
Gerard Piqué: And for me, it was ridiculous.
But his one-second cameo was enough to catch Shakira’s eye.
Shakira: I wasn’t a soccer fan so I didn’t know who he was. But when I saw the video, I was like, “Hmm. That one’s kind of cute.” (LAUGH) And then someone decided to introduce us.
Gerard Piqué: Yeah.
The couple now has two boys, live in Barcelona and have enough combined star power that Forbes Magazine named them one of the most powerful couples on the planet.
Bill Whitaker: For all intents and purposes, you— you two are married.
Shakira: We’re not married.
Bill Whitaker: But you’re not officially married.
Shakira: To tell you the truth, marriage scares the out of me. I don’t want him to see me as the wife. I’d rather him see me as his girlfriend.
Gerard Piqué: The girlfriend.
Shakira: Exactly. His lover, his girlfriend. It’s like a little forbidden fruit (LAUGH), you know? I wanna keep him on his toes. I want him to think that anything’s possible depending on behavior. (LAUGHTER)
Anything’s possible should be the mantra of Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll. At 10, she entered a singing contest and won. At 13, she signed her first record deal. Five years later, she was one of the biggest rockeras – rock stars – in Latin America.
But she craved a broader audience. So, she learned English, studied the lyrics of Bob Dylan and the poetry of Walt Whitman and at age 24 was blasting up the U.S. charts with a new look and a new song: “Wherever, Whenever.”
Bill Whitaker: What made you believe you could make it in the United States?
Shakira: Destiny? I had no doubt in my mind. I had visions of what was gonna happen to me since a very early age.
It was a steady rise until 2018, when she ran afoul of Spanish authorities over when she took up residence and how much tax she owes. She’s paid about $16 million while she fights the assessment. It’s a staggering sum that would have been unimaginable to a young Shakira. When she was seven, her father’s jewelry business went bankrupt. The family went from middle class to poor overnight.
Bill Whitaker: What impact did that have on you?
Shakira: Oh, a tremendous impact it was really important to me to vindicate my family’s financial situation and social status. And to a point that it became— an obsession to me. A healthy obsession, I— I would say. You know to succeed in life. To bring my dad and my mom out of that precarious situation. I think that I would not be the same person if my dad hadn’t had that financial setback.
Her father scraped together the money to keep his bookish daughter in Catholic school. At 18, with money from her first hit album, she started a foundation to educate disadvantaged children.
Bill Whitaker: Why’d you do that? You were a kid yourself.
Shakira: I was a kid myself. I grew up witnessing that many kids my age, many kids just like me, instead of going to school, were sleeping barefoot in the park.
She has built six schools and educated 23,000 children in Colombia. She’s considered a global leader on education who lobbies presidents to invest in early childhood development.
Shakira: I’ve always been convinced that my purpose in life is not to shake it endlessly. You know? (LAUGHTER) There’s gotta be so much more to it. You know? My musical career has served as a vehicle to work for children, which is the project of my life.
Changing lives, creating music she says she’s as driven as ever. She was working on her latest hit.
Shakira: Gotchu moving.
Bill Whitaker: Got me movin’.
Shakira: Okay, and your hips don’t lie.
In true Shakira fashion, she thought it could be better.
Shakira: There’s something in the frequency of the bass that is bugging me a little bit. I was just feeling it as I was listening.
Pop star, mother, philanthropist. It’s a lot to carry on her 5’3″ frame. On a walk in Barcelona, we got a taste of what it’s like to be Shakira.
FEMALE FAN: Can I have a photo from you?
Shakira: Yeah, of course.
The Super Bowl was just weeks away.
Shakira: You’ll see me in all my splendor, (LAUGH) meaning I’ll be, like, (MAKES NOISE), stressed out. (LAUGH)
That, she told us, is part of her process – her drive for perfection which is taking her all the way to the Super Bowl.
Shakira: I know that was on my to-do list, so, February 3rd, I’m gonna go, “Check.”
Bill Whitaker: You said you like your music to say something? What would be the message that you will send in your Super Bowl performance?
Shakira: I think the message is gonna be “Listen, I’m a woman. I’m a Latina. It wasn’t easy for me to get to where I am. And being at the Super Bowl is the proof that everything is possible. That the dreams of a little girl from Barranquilla, Colombia, they were made of something of what dreams are made of and I’m gonna be there, giving it all.
Produced by Marc Lieberman. Associate producer, Ali Rawaf. Field producer, Aarthi Rajaraman. Broadcast Associates, Mabel Kabani and Emilio Almonte. Edited by Peter M. Berman.
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