Over the course of a career spanning four decades, Shakira has gone from a singer-songwriter popular amongst Latin music fans to a global legend. With multiple, chart-topping albums in both Spanish and English, the Colombian artist has not only joined the ranks of musical icons like Cher, Prince, and Madonna, she’s also very much been in a league of her own. So, it’s only fitting that at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards, Shakira will be honored with the Video Vanguard Award, a merit given to notable music industry figures who have demonstrated considerable impact on music and pop culture at large. The 46-year-old is also set to perform at the VMAs for the first time in 17 years.
Past recipients include industry giants such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lopez. Yet, while these artists have achieved monumental success, Shakira is unique in that her success is not limited to a single language. After the massive success of her breakthrough crossover album, “Laundry Service,” Shakira continued to nurture her English-language artistry without giving up her Spanish-language roots. This versatility has culminated in an incredible career that has seen the artist take home three Grammys and 12 Latin Grammys among numerous other honors. And she shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
After a hectic year that saw her separating from long-time partner Gerard Piqué, “La Barranquillera” proved success is the best revenge, dropping her famous diss track “Session #53” this past January with in-demand Argentinian beatmaker Bzrp. The single debuted at No.9 on Billboard’s Hot 100, making Shakira the first woman to reach the top 10 on the chart with a song in Spanish. And just like that, Shakira turned her personal tragedy into a reminder of the caliber of artist she is— one who never fails to find her footing in whatever genre.
In the past year we’ve seen her brilliantly turn grief into art with singles like “Session #53,” “Monotonía featuring Ozuna (which had the biggest debut ever for a woman on Spotify in Mexico and Colombia), and “TQG” with Karol G (which debuted and peaked at No.7 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 in March). Her most recent single “Copa Vacia” with fellow Colombian singer Manuel Turizo debuted at No.4 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Airplay Chart.
She was also honored at Billboard and Telemundo’s first-ever Mujeres en la Música (Latin Women in Music) event with the Woman of the Year Award.
All of this is further proof that Shakira is always evolving. The singer is nominated for four VMAs this year including Artist of the Year, Best Latin, and Best Collab for “TQG” and Best Latin again for “Acróstico.”
So, before she takes the stage on Sept. 12, we’re taking a trip down memory lane with the following slideshow of Shakira’s most memorable moments at the VMAs.