Shakira Opens Up About Her ‘Darkest Hour’

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

A collapsing relationship, pending custody arrangements, and showdowns with the law all met with strength and resilience—it’s like something out of a telenovela.

International pop sensation Shakira is going through all that and more. Earlier this summer, she announced her split from Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué and custody of their two sons is still up in the air. She is also in a battle with the Spanish government over accusations of tax evasion. All the while the “Hips Don’t Lie” star is preparing to drop new music, her first album in five years.

Shakira detailed everything in a recent cover story interview with Elle, describing her life now as her “darkest hour.”

“I’ve remained quiet and just tried to process it all,” she shared about her issues for the first time publicly. “It’s hard to talk about it, especially because I’m still going through it, and because I’m in the public eye and because our separation is not like a regular separation. And so it’s been tough not only for me, but also for my kids. Incredibly difficult.”

Since news of the split hit the public conscious, the singer said paparazzi have been camping outside her home at all hours. “There’s not a place where I can hide from them with my kids, except for my own house. You know, we can’t take a walk in the park like a regular family or go have an ice cream or do any activity without paparazzi following us.”

She described her fight being on many fronts as she battles the media, spars for her relationship, for her kids, for her ailing father who, during all of this, was hospitalized after a fall.

“Everything is so raw and new,” she said of the dissolution of her relationship with partner Piqué. “I can only say that I put everything I had into this relationship and my family.” Family is still the top priority for the singer. “Regardless of how things ended or how Gerard and I feel about each other as ex-partners, he is the father of my children,” she said. “We have a job to do for these two incredible boys, and I have faith that we will figure out what is best for their future.”

On top of all that, the singer is also facing a legal battle with Spain, having been accused of evading taxes. Between 2012 and 2014, she allegedly failed to pay the government 14.5 million euros ($15 million) in taxes. She strongly denies these claims, saying “Because I have to fight for what I believe; because these are false accusations.”

“First of all, I didn’t spend 183 days per year at that time at all. I was busy fulfilling my professional commitments around the world. Second, I’ve paid everything they claimed I owed, even before they filed a lawsuit. So as of today, I owe zero to them.” If she is convicted, prosecutors have said she could face eight years in prison.

Through it all, music has been the artist’s saving grace. Even in “the most difficult, darkest hours of my life, music has brought light,” she explained.

“I think everyone has their own processes or their own mechanisms to process grief or stress or anxiety,” Shakira said. “We all go through stuff in life. But in my case, I think that writing music is like going to the shrink, only cheaper [laughs]. It just helps me process my emotions and make sense of them. And it helps me to heal.

“I have a full album’s worth of music that I’m so excited about …” she added. “I’m really, really thrilled about not only the body of work that I have right now to share with the people who are waiting for it, but also how gratifying the whole process has been for me. How therapeutic as well.

“I thought I was done with my album. But every time I get in the studio to do, like, one line or something, or to mix a song that’s almost ready to come out, then I end up with new music because I feel creative right now, and I feel that is an incredible outlet for me to make sense of things.”

The singer may describe this hour as her darkest, but it has also offered enlightenment and discovery while forcing her to meet adversity with strength and resilience.

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