Latin pop diva Shakira has achieved phenomenal success and become a genuine pop icon. Born to humble beginnings in Barranquilla on Colombia's Caribbean coast, she left for the capital city of Bogota as an aspiring model at age 13. Ironically it was her music that garnered attention. Singing and writing lyrics since she was 8, her first album for Sony was released when she was 14. Although sales were meager, the album helped launch her career as a soap opera actress. Then came Pies Descalzados (1995), an album which showcased her bold, flexible voice and yielded a string of huge hits. Her mixture of rock ballads and Dance Pop (with an occasional tropical touch) is filtered through her image as a talented, beautiful and headstrong young woman. Departing from the traditional image of Latin American women, Shakira's music and persona aroused controversy when her multiplatinum records put her in the spotlight. Following in the footsteps of Selena, she represents a bold new Latina who will be neither obsequious nor silent. As Shakira has matured, so has her music, as demonstrated in songs such as the Arabic-inflected "Ojos Asi" as well as in her live performances.