Music » Latin Grammy Awards 2000

Latin Grammy Awards 2000
September 13 may prove to be a big night in the life of Shakira.

The 23-year-old South American singer has been nominated for five awards at next week's inaugural Latin Grammys. She's in the running for album of the year ("MTV Unplugged"); best pop album ("MTV Unplugged"); female pop vocal performance ("Ojos Asi"); female rock vocal performance ("Octavo Dia"); and best music video ("Ojos Asi").

Her path to the awards show started at age 13, when she left her home in Barranquilla, Colombia, to seek her fortune in Bogota. Shakira (nee Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) signed a contract with Sony and released her first album at age 14.

Magia" was a compilation of songs she wrote between 8 and 13 years old. It wasn't a commercial success, nor was her sophomore effort "Peligro." But her third album, "Pies Descalzos" (1995) broke the streak.

The album sold more than 4 million copies and reached No. 1 in eight countries. More than half of the tracks, including "Estoy Aqui," "Donde Estas Corazon?" and "Antologia," also topped the charts.

She produced her follow-up effort, "Donde Estan Los Ladrones" (1998), in conjunction with Emilio Estefan Jr. It went multiplatinum.

MTV eventually plugged in to Shakira, asking her to perform an acoustic set in August 1999. Her performance landed on the album "MTV Unplugged," making her the first solo Latina artist to grace the network's coveted venue.

Shakira told WorldBeat what she cherished most about the experience was "the opportunity to change the arrangements of the songs, and present them to the audience in a different way -- the simplest way, which is the acoustic format."

The MTV Unplugged performance also offered Shakira the chance to tap into a North American audience, which has been growing considerably as the Latin pop and rock-en-Espanol genres have swept the nation. She found in her U.S. audience surprisingly little different from her native Colombian audience.

"The reactions of the crowd are basically always the same," she said. "They react in the same spots and in the same way. It doesn't matter if I'm facing a crowd in Brazil, or in Argentina, or in the United States, or in Spain."

Expanding her international reach, Shakira is now challenging herself by singing, writing and even thinking in her second language: English.

She said she's interested in including some Spanish-to-English recordings from "Donde Estan Los Ladrones" on her next album. Latin pop diva Gloria Estefan, and wife of Emilio, is doing the translations.

"It's a very interesting process to write in English because all my literary resources come from Spanish," Shakira said. "I must confess that I felt really handicapped, creatively, when I accepted the proposal to sing in English. ... I thought that I would encounter more difficulties, but everything has come together."

Shakira is slated to take the stage as both a nominee and a presenter at the Latin Grammys. She'll be honoring her mentor, Emilio Estefan Jr., with the award for `person` of the year.

A multiplatinum album. MTV Unplugged. The Grammys. What's next for Shakira?

"I really enjoy the presence of exploring a million possibilities," she said, "and I have thousands of ideas in my head flying like butterflies. I want to grab them all."

Shakira says her next challenge is to write her songs in English

Shakira's album, "Pies Descalzos," sold more than 4 million copies and reached No. 1 in eight countries


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