The Latin-pop superstar, born Shakira Mebarak Ripoll in the coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira, who goes by her first name only in Arabic means "woman full of grace," belies her ancestry. She is the daughter of a Colombian mother and a Lebanese father-a jeweler and writer whose Arabic background greatly influenced his daughter. Shakira's fondness for music was apparent early on, and she started winning local and national talent contests at age 10. While in school, Shakira was making her musical talent known by winning talent shows playing the guitar, and she was even kicked out of her school choir because her voice drowned out the other choir singers. Elsewhere, Shakira impressed judges at local and national competitions, who declared her winner of these contests. By 13, she had signed a record deal with Sony in Colombia, which resulted in her first album, "Magia (Magic)," a compilation of songs she wrote between the ages of 8 and 13. It was an effort that put Shakira in Colombia's musical map, and led to her being chosen to represent her country at the Fesival OTI in Spain. Because she was under the minimum age of 16, she wasn't allowed to participate. So instead, Shakira recorded a second album of original material, "Peligro (Danger)." At that point, Shakira took a break from music, graduated from high school (at age 15-really) and came back with a vengeance. The result was the phenomenally successful "Pies Descalzos," a hit-laden smash, which has sold close to four million copies worldwide. Shakira became an international sensation touring for an almost solid two years, playing her songs to sold-out audiences throughout the world. In Brazil alone, "Pies Descalzos" sold in excess of 900,000 copies, leading Shakira to record remixes in Portuguese for her Brazilian fans. She abandoned the light pop format she had been doing and declined her label's suggestion to explore more commercial avenues. Instead, she insisted on recording her very own brand of music: a blend of pop and rock that was unprecedented for a Colombian musician, much less a woman. Such a smashing hit seems impossible to surpass. But Shakira has done it with "Donde Estan los Ladrones," a collection of potential hits that further explores the realms of rock 'n' roll without losing Shakira's authenticity. Produced by über-producer Emilio Estefan -- who also became her manager -- the album is the perfect blend of gritty, thought-provoking lyrics and rock-laden tracks, while still preserving the Shakira that her original fans knew and loved. No wonder, then, that it was Shakira who was chosen among dozens of female Latin singers to grace the cover of Time Magazine in a recent article titled "Era of the Rockera". For the most exciting singer/songwriter to come out of Latin America in years, the possibilities are endless. For the millions that already buy her albums, she is already the voice of a new generation.