Shakira: Crossover Bound!
For a Latina
singer facing crossover, the timing is perfect. The Hispanic
culture is hip, its population on the rise and a wave of new,
young performers is taking over. "We're known all over the
world through rhythms like merengue, cumbia, vallenato, ranchera,
tango...No one doubts that we can make people dance, but no one
credits us for being good rockers. Well, I think we're ready to
show the world that we can master that, too," Shakira says.
Just don't get her
wrong. We're not talking about the typical rocker. "I'm full
of contradictions, a rock and roll singer who travels with her
parents." And at 21, she refuses to paint her nails and wear
heels. "Don't think I'm a total rebel, I just try to do
things my way and to stay away from clichés."
Mebarak Ripoll in Barranquilla, Colombia, her multi-million
selling album, Pies Descalzos, launched an international career
that continues to rise. Daughter of a Colombian mother and a
Lebanese father, her fondness for music was apparent early on;
she was winning local and national talent contests at age 10.
Besides her unique style and voice, it's her ability to write
lyrics that come from the heart that sets her apart. Now that
she's preparing her first album in English, will she be able to
convey her feelings in a language other than her native tongue?
"Well, I'll be writing most of the music, probably all of
it. It's hard for me to delegate in this respect. As far as the
lyrics, there'll be some translations done by Gloria (Estefan) of
songs that I have written in Spanish and some new ones that we're
writing together. I think it will be a bit more difficult because
I won't have as many poetic resources in English, but the ideas
are there, they have no boundaries."
Truly and Unusually Talented!
have hailed Shakiras thought-provoking songs; it is unusual
for someone so young to be so deep. Where does it come from?
Anything and everything...personal experiences, fears,
wishes. Theres a close connection between them and my
personal life, my everyday routine. Theyre a sort of escape
valve, emergency exit. Id rather write than visit a
psychiatrist and its the best defense mechanism I know and
a way to know myself through introspection.
controversial? Not really. Dont misunderstand, I
dont lead a tormented existence. And I would be lying if I
told you that you must be under stress or suffering immensely in
order to write a song. But we must be able to collect emotions
and put them into words, anybodys emotions. After all,
were all one flesh, one blood. We all have experienced what
others also have felt: love, hate, passion. These are the
ingredients. According to Shakira, everybody has angels and
demons, whether we keep them under control, in part is pure
luck...but its also up to us to be able to do it.
One of a Kind!
hit-laden smash album, Pies Descalzos, which sold close to
four million copies worldwide, Shakira declined her record
label's suggestion to explore more commercial venues and insisted
on recording her very own brand of music. Donde están los
ladrones is a collection of songs that explores the realms of
rock and roll without giving up the singers authenticity.
Its totally refreshing for me to work with an artist who
knows exactly what she wants, both at a musical and personal
level, said Emilio Estefan, who produces her albums and,
through Estefan Enterprises, manages her career.
said that Shakira is also responsible for creating her own image.
The braided hair, the red hair, the black hair. I try to
follow my own path, although Im also aware that no one can
be completely original, because theres nothing totally new.
Everything has been said before. A perfectionist? That may
be closer to reality. When Im recording, I never feel
totally secure. I bring an idea, I develop it, but during the
process Im constantly questioning myself: why this, why
that? Im not satisfied until I feel that theres a
perfect connection between me and my music. We must be in unison,
texture, quality, sound, taste, warmth, shape. A total
No one should
wonder why Shakira has been chosen from among dozens of Latin
singersmale and femaleto appear on the cover of
Newsweek as the symbol of the new generation of Hispanics set to
change America in the new century. Besides having been nominated
for a Grammy Award, she was named Female Artist of the Year at
the World Music Awards in Monaco and was a winner last spring at
Univisions Premios Lo Nuestro and the Billboard Awards.
Thats not all. Critics hail her for being the most exciting
cantautora from Latin America in years. Yet, shes
willing to go for the golden ring, and try to cross over into the
cutthroat world of rock and roll. Why? I know its a
professional challenge, but its also a personal one. I
think I owe it to myself. Its a personal commitment . But I
wont deny it, Im also scared.
That we experience
fear when we face something new, is normal. But Im
also excited about this idea and happy to do it. I feel that I
owe it to my people, los colombianosand all Latinos
in general. There are many reasons, the music, our image, our
community. I want to show that were ready, that were
intelligent people with a great sense of humor despite our
problems. As far as Colombians are concerned, I think we can use
some good news.
Shakira is contemplating moving permanently to South Florida,
theres no question where her heart is. Im
always thinking about my Colombian people, when Im on
stage, when I receive an award. I think about them because
theyre one of my greatest motivations.
Love? Yes, but not now!
For a beautiful
young woman, life without love seems impossible to visualize.
Yet, she emphasizes that theres no one. Im sure
theres someone there for me, waiting. And the moment will
arrive. But Im praying so it wont be right now. I
dont want to lose my concentration with too many things
dancing in my head, and men tend to steal our attention and
ideas. Like flies after the honey... Then all my thoughts tend to
concentrate on that person and right now, I cant afford
Where does this
young woman gets all her strength? Im a believer. I
try to be near God, because when I feel that theres a
certain distance, everything begins to look like a blur. It makes
the road somewhat smoother. When I feel that Im without
God, I have to make an effort to drag my feet to keep on
going... ¿Los famosos pies descalzos? Esos
Carmen Teresa Roiz is VISTAs associate editor.
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