I most often write about places you should see, things you should do, or interesting facts you should know about Colombia. However, today I am going to start a series where I tell you about famous Colombians you should be familiar with, especially if you are traveling to their homeland. In today’s post, I am going to focus on two world-famous Colombians you may have already heard about: Shakira and Gabriel García Marquez, both natives of the Colombian Caribbean Coast and both known around the world for their artistic talents.
Shakira was born to a Lebanese father and Colombian mother and spent the majority of her youth in the Colombian city of Barranquilla. Shakira began singing and performing when she was very young and signed her first record deal at only 13 years of age, despite being told in school that she did not have a good singing voice1. Although unsuccessful, her first record deal set the foundation for the beginning of a long and extremely successful musical career for Shakira. By 2012, Shakira had become the second-highest paid female Latino singer in the world,1 and since then she has gone on to write and produce songs in English, French, Spanish, and even Catalán, as well as producing and/or performing songs for the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups in Germany, South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
While no longer taking up residence in Barranquilla, Shakira is still proud of her Colombian, Lebanese, and Barranquillan roots. And, while some Colombians may disagree with her no longer living in Colombia, they cannot deny that she has brought a lot of (good) attention to her South American homeland through her musical talent and success.
An artist world-renown many years before Shakira is Colombian author Gabriel García Marquez, who passed away earlier this year. Born to a humble family in the small town of Aracataca in the Colombian department of Magdalena, Marquez grew up with his maternal grandparents who inspired some of his greatest literary works.
Moving from Aracataca to Bogotá to study, Marquez studied law and first began his writing career as a journalist. He worked as a journalist first in Colombia and then abroad in the United States and Europe during the controversial dictatorship of Pinilla in Colombia. Marquez’ literary work and inspiration began in Colombia, even before he started working in journalism, and followed him across the ocean to Europe. However, it was not until he moved to Mexico City in the 1960s and began writing A Hundred Years of Solitude that his real literary career took off2. With the publication of A Hundred Years of Solitude, Marquez made famous the relatively new literary genre, magical realism, and joined the ranks of literary masters like Faulkner and Hemingway2. He went on to publish several more very successful works, such as Of Love and Other Demons and Love in the Time of Cholera, and even had some of his works turned into movies. Both literary genius and outspoken journalist, Marquez came to be one of the most admired authors of the 20th century and one of the most famous Colombians of all time.
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Until next time,
Paige M. Poole