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They say good things come in small packages and at a petite 5'2, Shakira sure fits the description. If you don't know who this Latin bombshell is, you had better come out from wherever you've been hiding. She has the type of star power to make Jennifer Lopez look like a one-hit wonder. Shakira is the world's most famous Latin female artist: for the millions that buy her albums, she is already the voice of a new generation.

Her Fame:
With career sales of 25 million albums and three Latin Grammies including the Best Latin Pop Album Grammy, her most recent Latin album holds the record for most sales during a first week of release by a female artist for 2005. She's a staple at every music award show. She was even chosen as the cover girl for the coveted Time Magazine issue that featured the article Era Of The Rockera.

Though there may have been countless Latin divas before, none have had the impact, success and influence that Shakira has. Her recent recognition by audiences worldwide proves she has the power to break boundaries, which is important for an artist of any background. She has been extremely successful as a singer, and has co-written many of her biggest hits. She may be considered a pop diva, but her singles have crossed over to top the dance, rock and adult contemporary charts as well.

Oral Fixation Vol. 2 ~ The New Album
Almost half a decade later, Shakira has shown no signs of slowing down. Faced with the pressure after Laundry Service to release another English language album, she instead decided to release two versions of the album, first in Spanish and then in English. The Spanish version Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1 debuted at # 1 on the Billboard Latin Album chart in mid 2005 and went to number one in a host of countries across the world. The album's first single La Tortura featured Spanish superstar Alejandro Sanz and spent 25 weeks on the US Latin charts at number one.

That year's successes continue to mount into this new one with the release of her Oral Fixation, Vol 2. Her first English language album in four years, it debuted at # 5 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart, making it the third top five album of her career. The first single Don't Bother sets the tone for the album with it’s ’80s inspired pop beats and is one of the most played videos all over the world, nestled high up in the top five on most of the charts. Produced by the renowned Rick Rubin, the new album even features Carlos Santana and finds Shakira at an all time creative high and looks all set to be possibly one of the biggest albums of the year. In total, she has sold more than twenty seven million records to date. It's an outrageous amount, in any language, and makes her the most significant bilingual artist in the world today. Off the record with Shakira…you learn she likes to make music her way.

You released two different albums in a span of months. Did you plan it that way?
Shakira: I did not set out to make two albums when I began the writing process but suddenly I realized I had written sixty songs, some in English and some in Spanish. Twenty of these songs were selected and divided up by language to make two different albums. It was painful at times to come up with two albums...I was never sure about what I was doing until the last day, when it finally came to the moment of delivering the album to the company…

Oral Fixation Vol. 2 is your first English album since multi-million selling Laundry Service. What’s changed since then?
Shakira: Four years ago, when I faced that huge challenge of writing an album in English, writing my own songs in a foreign language, my knees would shake. I was not prepared at all. I did not feel that I had enough command of the English language even to do an interview. But I did it, I do not know how. I think it was some sort of a miracle. (Laughs again) Today I find myself writing in English without even noticing it, without realising it, without any planning or premeditation. It just happened, which made me very happy. I think that I'm finally bilingual after so many years. (Laughs)

What’s the new album all about?
Shakira: It feels very representative of me, of where I’m at this very moment in my life. I have been involved with this record by the second and have arranged a lot of what this music is and is today. It’s just a very personal album. I'm starting to feel like I've finally arrived at my adult life. I am an adult now, but probably three years ago I wasn't.

Interesting…why would you say that you’ve finally grown up?
Shakira: One of the ways I grew up was through the loss of people close to me. The person who was my closest friend and who managed me for five years, Patricia Tellez, died suddenly from a blood clot. The other friend, a friend from Barranquilla, Sylvia Aparicia, died from cancer and she was only 33. When I was younger, I didn't understand properly that people could be taken away like that. Growing up is painful. But I also found great ways to grow, like having for the first time my own home. Three dogs, and a house I can decorate, and a garden that I've seen blooming because I've worked on it myself. People say that by the time you are 30 is when you really liberate yourself from the external perceptions and you are more comfortable in your own skin. I am starting to feel that way...

That’s good to hear. Getting back to the music…Oral Fixation is an interesting title for an album. How did that come about?
Shakira: Oral Fixation probably comes from the fact that I have always lived through my mouth. I think it is probably my biggest source of pleasure and my most accessible vehicle to discover and enjoy the world. I am fixated on chocolate! (Laughs) I’m so glad that with Don’t Bother, the first single, I don’t have to show my belly or do any belly dance moves, because I haven’t done abs exercises in so long and I’ve been eating chocolates like a pig. (Laughs again)

You’ve got Carlos Santana turning up on the album. That must have been something?
Shakira: He did a terrific, very soulful performance on the song Illegal. It just brought up to me that classic Santana, you know, the Santana that I first heard years ago with Samba Pa Ti or songs like Europe. I really wanted to bring that sentiment to this one song and he did it magnificently and he is just one performer I really admire. I feel thrilled and honoured and privileged to have someone like Carlos Santana lending me his genius for my project, for my album…

You can read the rest of our cover story on Shakira in the January 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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