Breaking news: English isn't Shakira's first language. This hip-shaking sensation hails from Barranquilla, Colombia, and grew up speaking Spanish! Shak became fluent in English just in time to become a world-famous celeb thanks to the help of her manager, Emilio Estefan, who hired her a private tutor in Miami.
"To me it was very important to understand the nature of the language and how it works in literature," she tells VH1 while gyrating her hips (we assume). "I wanted to know how the English grammar works … I had to read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in English just to understand the language a little more. It was too important to me to write my own material like I always did."
Of course, Shakira's first English album wasn't a walk in the park, but she had help from none-other than Gloria Estefan!
"The first time we spoke about doing an album in English Gloria Estefan helped me with some translations of songs that already existed," she explains. "She rescued the spirit of the songs in Spanish and translated them into English. But when I decided I wanted to do a record from zero, it was because I had the need and the urgency to express ideas, feelings, thoughts. I had to express all those experiences that I was going through in another language. It was quite a challenge and a little scary, but then it became an adventure, an interesting expedition to the unknown. At the end of the day I found a good record that I felt proud of."
Sigh, tear! Oh, and by the way — not only does Shakira speak Spanish and English, she's also fluent in Portuguese, and speaks conversational French, Italian, and Catalan.