Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2, 1977, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll is the youngest sibling of her parents' eight children. Her father William Mebarak, who is American of Lebanese descent, and Colombian mother, Nidia Ripoll, both supported their daughter's ambition of becoming a singer. Shakira knew early on that she wanted to be a professional musician and by the time she was 8, she was already writing her own songs. This undeniable prodigy even began playing the guitar by 11 years of age. 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.