Shakira: ‘I needed surgery – or divine intervention’

November 12, 2019

There was a time, in late 2017, when Shakira thought she might never sing again. After suffering a haemorrhage in her vocal cords, she could barely speak. “I always thought there were going to be things in my life that would go away, like beauty, youth, all of that stuff,” she says. “But I never thought that my voice would leave me, because it’s so inherent to my nature. It was my identity. So when I couldn’t sing, that was unbearable. There were times I couldn’t even get out of bed – I was so depressed.”

There’s something almost fairytale-like about this: a cautionary fable about the danger of taking happiness for granted, starring the Colombian singer who sold a reported 75m records and became one of the richest women in pop. To give her voice the best chance to recover, there were periods when Shakira wouldn’t speak at all. “I had to communicate through signs and nobody could understand me.”

Her children – then two and four – couldn’t read, so writing didn’t help. She says she never fought with her partner, the Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué, so much as when she couldn’t speak. “He jokes that you would think you would want your wife to shut up – but when I had to remain quiet, he felt like one of those ex-convicts who are given their freedom and don’t know what to do with it.” How did she stay positive? “I was not positive. I was so pessimistic. I was a bitter person to be around.” She laughs. “Gerard saw the worst of me.”

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