To the sheltered gringo, daydreams of Colombia conjure up images of picturesque beaches, tan women, and topnotch nose candy. The fantasy intensifies with smoked-filled illusions of the ever-mesmerizing Shakira,
yet another of the country's hedonistic pleasures. Known worldwide for her signature quaver and gyrating hips, the Latin pop artist has become an icon of talent and beauty for her native land. But sex appeal and newly bleached locks will get you only so far. Shakira has depth to back up her sexy image. Although the singer gained popularity and critical acclaim during the early years of her career in Latin America, the explosive debut of her 2001 bilingual album, Laundry Service
, made her a solid force in the international music world. Catching the tail end of the Latin crossover frenzy, the ubiquitous hit "Whenever, Wherever" confirmed Shakira's presence as more than a passing fad. Most recently, her release Fijación Oral Vol. 1
has topped charts globally, while the single "Hips Don't Lie" from her second English-language album, Oral Fixation Vol. 2
, hit number one on the Billboard
Shakira performs Wednesday and Thursday, December 6 and 7, and Saturday, December 9, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets start at $60. Call 786-777-1250, or visit www.ticketmaster.com.