One of the few Colombians ever to become an international pop star, Shakira's sexy image and hypnotic dance music owes much to her poor upbringing in Barranquilla, where she was heavily influenced by Arabic music and exotic dancing in local restaurants. Of Lebanese, Italian and Catalan (Spanish) descent, she was known at school as the "belly dancer girl", where her gift for entertainment soon became apparent and she was discovered by local theatre producer Monica Ariza, who got her signed to Columbia. Shakira was only 14 when she released her first album Magia in 1991 and starred in a Colombian TV soap opera, El Oasis. Her 1995 album Pies Descalsoz made her a Latin superstar and her first English-language album Laundry Service - producing the hit single Whenever Wherever - in 2001 made her Latin pop's biggest crossover star since Jennifer Lopez. Her stardom was confirmed by Hips Don't Lie in 2006, one of the biggest dance hits of the decade.
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