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Shakira Surfs Now (?!), and Other Surprises From the Most Googled Pop Star in America




The guttural power in her voice and her movement—the swaying and undulating and side-hip-thrusting that could push you over a ledge—have helped her sell more than 80 million records, win 14 Grammys, and earn more than 18 billion YouTube views, numbers that will only climb higher when her new album gets released (date TBD, but soon!).

She’s also always felt so real. So powerful, so confident. Which is why it shocked me to hear her talk about her insecurities—although those immediately felt real too. I’ve covered Latino issues as a journalist for decades and I have a good BS detector; trust me when I say Shakira sets off no alarms. During our interview, she was thoughtful, present, and deliberate, not afraid to admit she’s battling the same demons we all are.

I also never realized how many times Shakira has been knocked down: from getting teased for being the weird girl in Barranquilla, Colombia, who sang with a vibrato that sounded “like a goat” to, more recently, facing a career-halting crisis when a vascular lesion on her vocal cords nearly caused her to lose her voice permanently. Yet through it all, her deep need to live the alegría (joy) of life has prevailed—even knowing that more challenges could come at any time. Thankfully, she’s always ready.

Maria: I loved prepping for our interview. This morning, at 6 a.m., I was like, Can I body-roll? Can I?

Shakira: You had to practice. For journalism.

Of course. You’re doing all these new things: surfing, skateboarding, studying philosophy. So first, I want to know: Who’s your favorite philosopher?

Socrates, of course. I think asking questions is the most ingenious way to discover the truth—if there is any truth to things. There can be many truths, like two sides of a coin. I often try to apply that to the upbringing of my kids. I’m a tiger mom and a helicopter mom and all these different moms. [Laughs.]

Is it hard to shut off being “the producer” as a mom or as a partner?

Yeah. That’s when having a partner who’s completely opposite in that sense comes in handy. My mind never stops. I dream about my kids. I worry about them constantly. I torture my poor husband. Well, he’s not really my…I don’t know what to call him!