Credit: MTV

The master of magic realism, Gabriel García Márquez, wrote about Shakira, “It’s a phenomenon worthy of a doctoral dissertation.” We agree with García Márquez. Shakira is an icon of Latin America and, through her music, graciously introduced latinx culture to the world beyond her hometown of Barranquilla in Colombia.

It was 2000. The new millennium. We had survived the Y2K bug. We were facing the 2000 Bush v. Gore presidential election.

Shakira had released one of the most important and iconic albums that preceded to her crossover to the United States.

Shakira’s MTV Unplugged was released in 2000. It was her first live album and sold more than 5,000,000 copies. Shakira’s powerful performance at the Grand Ballroom in New York City featured 11 songs, emerging from her discography since the major-label debut, Pies Descalzos. MTV Unplugged earned Shakira a Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Album in 2001.

On one hand, MTV Unplugged became the zenith of Shakira’s success in Latin America. On the other, this album was the waiting room into Shakira’s stardom in the United States, and the rest of the world.

Credit: Sony Music

Shakira’s MTV Unplugged was highly acclaimed by music critics. Alex Henderson, music journalist, stated, “Shakira, not surprisingly, emerged triumphant when she appeared on MTV Unplugged, and this 2000 release is a fine document of that appearance.” Adding “But regardless of whether or not one understands Spanish, MTV Unplugged is an excellent live album.”

From the legendary night, “Ojos así” stands out in MTV’s Unplugged acoustic setting.

In another masterpiece,”Tú,” Shakira displays her powerful and wide-range vocals atop an intimate musical arrangement.

Shakira was mere steps away from international fame.

In 2001, Shakira released Laundry Service, which introduced her to English language audiences.

The hit single “Whenever, Wherever” became Shakira’s compass as she began her journey into stardom, positioning her music between pop and rock.

And MTV Unplugged became a hallmark of pop culture history. This early version of Shakira, with red ombre hair, dark roots, leather pants, and masterful vocals, still resonates today.