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Sincere, confident, very spectacular, Shakira reaches the latin youth and the whole world with an intensity rarely reached by other artists. That made her get two Latin Grammys and one American Grammy when she expected them the least. The fight is something natural to her. She carries the lyrics in her heart and expreses them in the words of her songs. She is very young but, as she herself says, sometimes she feels old, as if she had lived a long time after many frustrated attempts. Shakira receives us in the Lowell, almost in the middle of the heart of the Gran Manzana, to tell us, among other things, how her relationship with Antonio de la Rua is, with whom she plans to get married soon, and also to talk about her first English album, Laundry Service (Servicio de lavanderķa). It was very easy to start talking with Shakira, because her, apart from being a great artist, is a very natural woman.

- Shakira, what are your ambitions?
I don't like the word ambition, I prefer to change as for ilusion. Well, I'm a romantic.

- Your dreams?
To be able to enjoy all the things that I have prepared, the victories.. I think that my dream is to be able to celebrate my triumphs and cry my defeats next to the people I love the most; I mean, my family and the love of my life. I would also like to get married and have children someday.

- How many?
I want to have two, but Antonio wants to have four.

- Where would you like to live?
Although we haven't thought of a specific place, I would like to live in the country, raise horses and have my own garden.

- Do you already have a date for the wedding?
I don't know yet. As I was saying, we want to get married, have children and we already know that we will do it someday. But we don't have a date at the moment.
- How is Antonio de la Rua, your boyfriend?

He is a man with a gigantic heart, an extraordinary sensibility and a very exotic inteligente. I think that he's a brilliant man, many other people think the same. Antonio, in my opinion, is one of the most intelligent people I have met in my whole life, and that never stops amazing me. Each day I discover a better person in him, a better human being. Every new day is the first one.

"WE HAVE MANY AFFINITIES"

- And what is it that he likes the most about you?
You have to ask him. And she adds: We have many affinities. Antonio supports my career, and I have never seen, apart from my parents, someone so close to me who wishes me success and my personal realization so much. He really wishes for it.

- Is it difficult for a man to live with a famous woman?
Yes, it's difficult for a man to be next to a woman of success, but that's the story of all the artists. However, I can consider myself one of the exceptions, because I have a man by my side who feels confident and shares my success with great joy. That is really valuable.

"MY MUSIC IS THE REFLECTION OF MY LIFE"

- You have dedicated a lot of time to write your first English album, which is, besides, a very important thing. What has been the result, in your opinion?
Writing in English has been an important challenge to me from the beginning, because many people didn't think that I was going to be capable of writing and expressing myself in a language with which I wasn't familiarized. When they suggested to me that I should make this album, the idea of hiring other composers to write for me came as an idea, but I couldn't get used to that, and I don't think that I would have been able to do it that way. Everything emerged in a very spontanoeus way. All of a sudden I started to read a little bit more in English, and if I had any idea that sounded a little poetic in Spanish, I tried to find the way to say it in English. That's how I got used to looking in literary resources also in English and discovering the nature of that language, which is very different to the Spanish nature, but

- How do you come across melodies?
Maybe because I'm a fusion: I have a spanish heritage from my mother and arabic and lebanese blood from my father.

- But you were brought up in Colombia
Yes, by the sea, listening to all kinds of music with a great devotion for rock.

- How is your music?
It's a reflection of my life, of where I come from and where I belong to.

- You started writing lyrics when you were 8.
Lyrics and music. When I was 8 I made my first song, which I later included in my first album. It was called Tus Gafas oscuras. The phenomenom of inspiration is something that can't be explained. Sometimes I don't feel capable of writing a song. At this moment you tell me "Write a song" and would be totally stupid, I couldn't.

- When do they usually emerge?
There are just moments of lighting, of inspiration, and that's when the miracle of writing a song occurs. Each time I write a song I celebrate it as if it were the last time, as if it would never happen again.

"WRITING SONGS IS A THERAPY"

- And what do you want to inspire in people with your lyrics?
It isn't that I desire to inspire anything in special; I just want to express my own ideas. Writing songs is a therapy to me, more useful than going to the psychiatrist, and cheaper. It's, above all, a way of unloading the everyday stress and the experiences, which are not many yet, because I'm 24, but some are intense, intense enough to write some songs.

- And which has been your most intense moment?
Man, those are the questions I find the most difficult to find answers to, because life has so many shades...

- There has to be one...
A very intense moment is when I'm on stage in front of the public. I have also lived very intense moments in my relationships, when I look a kid in the eyes who comes close and gives you a hug, giving a kiss to my father after not seeing him in 15 days...

- Do you get on well with your parents?
I'm very attached to them

- Do they always go with you?
Yes, almost always.

"THE GRAMMYS"

- What did you feel when you won your grammy?
It was more exciting than I expected. I didn't think that winning a Grammy produced so much excitement.

- It's a recognition, isn't it?
Above all, when you don't expect it. When things catch you by surprise, they make a more powerful efect than when you don't expect them and, all of a sudden, they don't come, because that's frustrating. I have passed through both things. For example, three years ago, I think, I was nominated, and everybody told me that that Grammy was mine. I almost dreamed with the award, I had even assigned it a place in my house, but it finally didn't come.

- That is a frustration
I sat in that chair for three hours, waiting for them to say my name, and they never said it. It was a horrible and useless experience, which made me feel that I wasn't worthy. However, the following year I was nominated for the Latin Grammys and I won two.

- You also got an American Grammy.
Indeed, the following year. When they said my name I couldn't believe it.

- Do you feel older than you are for the things you have lived and for having started to write so soon or do you think you're still a little girl?
Sometimes I feel that I'm 90, and sometimes I feel I'm 5. I'm a very strange combination of a woman, between an old woman and a little girl.

- Why?
I don't know, there are aspects of my personality that sometimes seem old and some other that are still innocent.