2002 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: November 6, 2002.Copyright
The Rainbow Room in
Rockefeller Plaza in New York City is a world famous
old restaurant right in the heart of downtown Manhattans entertainment
classic old club that was opened in 1934 in the heart of the Great
Depression, designed to radiate class, glamour, elegance, luxury and the
spirit of New York nightlife, The Rainbow Room has played host to
celebrities, millionaires, politicians and kings in its almost seventy years
in business. But this morning, it isnt a nightclub. Instead it is set up
for a press conference for a rising music star.
Its a pretty heady
place to be for a new artist. But Shakira isnt really a new artist.
Although she just released her first English language album in late 2001,
she has been a force in Latin music circles since she was 13. Shakira
Mebarak was born in Baranquilla, Colombia in 1977. By the time she hit 13,
her family had moved her to the capitol city of Bogotŕ in hopes of Shakira
becoming a model. Instead of posing in front of the camera, Shakira was
offered a recording contract and released her debut album Magia
(Magic) in 1991. It sold well in her homeland, but Shakiras music didnt
cross over to the rest of the world until she had a hit with the
Aqui from her fourth album Pies Descalzos in 1995. By then Shakira
was 18-years-old and had also landed a role in the Colombian soap opera
That fourth album
was the album that exploded Shakira into international celebrity, ending up
with six hit singles in Latin America, topping the charts in eight countries
and eventually selling a million copies in the U.S.
This prominence has
caused Shakira to be able to spend less and less time in her homeland, but
she still feels a great love of her war-torn nation. My hopes are like any
other Colombians hopes, Shakira says. To have that beautiful country of
mine in unity and in peace, and I think we are closer ever before to achieve
what weve been dreaming about all these years. I think were ready for
it. Forty years have been enough for us to learn our lessons. I think we
are just ready for peace.
In 1998, Shakira hooked
up with Emilio Estefan, who had guided the career of his wife Gloria and her
band Miami Sound Machine from Latin favorites to international superstars.
Dónde Están Los Ladrones?, the first album with
Emilio Estefan turned out to be an even bigger hit than its predecessor in
1998. Gloria Estefan offered to translate the smash single Ojos Asi into
English for Shakira. Her international reputation was growing,
spurred on even further
by an appearance on MTV Unplugged (which was the
first totally Spanish language programming on the cable network) and a series of ads for Pepsi.
Ive been very
fortunate to have a family around me all these years, people who love me for
what I am, Shakira says. People who know where I come from, where Im
going to, what my goals are. They have definitely been a very positive
influence in my life, to assimilate the subtleties and nuances of fame, and
popularity and all that
When I think that I started this career so early,
my case is not the case of an artist who becomes popular overnight and then
has to deal with thousands of photographers screaming my name. Or the task
of talking to reporters everyday or signing autographs or that kind of
stuff. To me, it was not traumatic at all. I digested all the
complications of popularity in a very easy and smooth way. Because it was
gradual, you know?
door was opening for Shakira to gain international stardom. She was ready
for her first English language album. Of course, there was a basic problem.
She didnt speak the language. But with the determination that had fueled
her whole career, she learned how to speak and write in English. In late
2001, the fruits of her labor were released with Laundry Service.
this big challenge of writing for the first time in English and making my
first English album and presenting it to the world
of course I was feeling
ready for it, a little bit scared
actually a lot scared, Shakira admits.
But I knew I could do it and my instincts always told me to go ahead and
jump in the water. The results that Laundry Service has brought to
my life and my career have been more than I expected. I mean, almost ten
million copies around the world is more than I ever could dream about.
was a smash
hit right out of the box. The first single Wherever Whenever was a giddy
mix of pop music with distinctive Latin instruments like the Charanga and
Quena Flute making it stand out from the rest of
cookie-cutter tunes on the top of the pops. The
follow-up single was another smash, Underneath Your Clothes, a deceptively
simple ballad, and a rather eloquent one at that, considering it was written
by someone who had just learned English as a second language in the last
couple of years. A third single called Objection (Tango) has been
released as well, a mesmerizing mish-mash of accordions and power-chord
Not only has her
music been a huge sensation in the United States, but her
skin-tight thrift-shop hip-huggers, old belly shirts and funky hats have set
off a style revolution that has spread to girls around the world. But any
effect shes had on the fashion world has slipped right past Shakira.
Really? I didnt know that, she laughs. Im not the type of girl who
loves shopping. I actually hate it. I have no patience for shopping. I
dont think in terms of fashion, really. Its actually the last thing I
think about, when it comes to making a video or a photo session or that kind
But whether Shakira
realizes it or not, she has created a musical phenomenon. Which brings us
here, to the Rainbow Room. Shakira looks comfortable facing down a room
full of writers and photographers. They were summoned with a cryptic notice
from her record label that Shakira had a big announcement to make. It
didnt take a brain surgeon to figure that she was probably announcing a
world tour, and a stage setting with a logo reading Tour de la Mongosta
(Tour of the Mongoose) took care of any suspense the visitors may have been
feeling. What was more of a surprise is that after over a decade as a
performer, this is the first world tour Shakira has embarked upon.
By the way, the
mongoose couldnt come. (He) couldnt make it today because hes getting
ready for the tour. But Im here and in his representation
Which brings up a
pretty basic question. What exactly is a mongoose?
I knew you were
going to ask me that, Shakira laughs. Its an animal (that)
looks like a rat. The first time I ever heard about a mongoose, I was
really impressed by it, because it is an animal that can defeat the snake
with just a bite. The mongoose awoke my curiosity and so many symbols
in my head. I think of it like a personification of a utopia or
something. Its like a little miracle, this animal, to me.
Because if there is an animal on Earth that can defeat the snake
venomous viper, with (just) a bite, I think there has got to be a way for us
to defeat hatred in this world. So thats basically the symbolism that
arose in my mind as soon as I knew about this creature. Thats why I
made it the name of the tour. Because I usually name my albums and my
tours according to the emotional moment that Im going through. I
guess Im in an existentialist mode right now. Thats why Im sounding
like an old-fashioned hippie.
The Tour of the
Mongoose will last throughout 2002 and 2003, during which Shakiras band
will play in 30 countries and 50 cities.
(The tour)s going
to be amazing, Shakira says excitedly. Its going to be a super
production. I have the best team of lighting and sound and video in the
industry. I feel pretty confident about my band. Theyre sounding
amazing. Im really impressed by the way theyre sounding. Im not sparing
any effort to make sure that this concert will be the best I can offer to my
fans and its going have love, a strong spirit of rock and roll
so you will
see a rock and roll show
but itll have
nuances and the subtleties. My
main goal is to be able to not only entertain (fans), but make sure they
leave the venues fulfilled and happy and make sure they have had an
unforgettable night. Ill do everything possible to make sure that
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