Shakira continues to keep it real about life after her explosive split from Gerard Piqué, candidly addressing the struggles she’s facing while balancing pop stardom with being a single mom.
The 46-year-old singer graces the cover of Billboard‘s latest issue with a new interview about how her life has changed both personally and professionally since she moved from Barcelona, Spain, to Miami, Florida, earlier this year. Offering her signature candor, Shakira explains that her career was her “third priority” while living in Europe, as she had “dedicated” her life to caring for her children and partner. Now, residing full-time in the U.S., Shakira’s access to collaborators and professional resources is more closely within reach.
“Now I can release music at a faster clip, although sometimes I think being a single mom and the rhythm of a pop star aren’t compatible,” she says. “I have to put my kids to bed, go to the recording studio; everything is uphill. When you don’t have a husband who can stay home with the kids, it’s constant juggling because I like to be a present mom and I need to be there every moment with my children: take them to school, have breakfast with them, take them to play dates. And aside from that, I have to make money.”
Later on in the interview, the “Acróstico” singer is asked whether she’s happy.
“It’s a very short question for a very long answer,” she admits. “I don’t think everyone has access to happiness. It’s reserved for a very select number of people, and I can’t say I’m part of the club at this moment. There are moments of happiness, distraction, moments of reflection. There are also still moments of nostalgia, and my music right now feeds off that cocktail.”
Still, Shakira is undoubtedly experiencing a watershed moment in her career. Last week, she was honored with the coveted Video Vanguard Award at this year’s Video Music Awards, making her the first South American artist to earn the honor. She’s also among the top nominees at the upcoming Latin GRAMMY Awards.
“I think that nothing can compensate for the pain of destroying a family,” she tells Billboard. “Of course, I have to keep going for my children’s sake; that’s my greatest motivation. But my biggest dream, more than collecting platinum albums and GRAMMYs, was to raise my sons with their father. Overcome obstacles and grow old together. I know I’m not getting that now.”
One lesson learned amid her personal struggles, Shakira says, is the discovery of her own strength.
“I thought I was much weaker. I used to crumble before the stupidest problems,” she explains. “I’d create a drama because I chipped my tooth or that kind of stuff. But maturing, going through truly difficult things, gives you a sense of perspective and empathy. You learn how to value the good moments and how not to amplify the bad ones.”
Calling herself “a true drama queen,” Shakira reflects on the very real time that she broke her tooth while working on The Voice in 2012. At the time, she and Piqué were in a relationship and expecting their first child.
“I remember one time, Gerard bought me a diamond ring because I chipped a tooth on The Voice and I was crying so much,” she shares. “I was inconsolable. I was also pregnant, so I was highly hormonal. Now I chip a tooth, and it doesn’t go beyond being a little inconvenience that you fix with a visit to the dentist. I wouldn’t cry over it for two days in a row like I used to back in the day when I used to be happy.”
Shakira and her ex share two sons: Milan Piqué Mebarak, 9, and Sasha Piqué Mebarak, 7. The boys were by their mom’s side at the VMAs last week as she geared up to take the stage.
“They’re so loving and caring and they inspire to be better, to be a better person just for them,” Shakira marveled of her sons in a backstage interview with ET. “They’re just the most amazing thing in my life. They’re everything to me.”
Shakira’s Vanguard honor included an epic, career-spanning performance, in which she sang, danced and crowd-surfed her way through a medley of her biggest hits, including “She Wolf,” “Objection,” and “Whenever, Wherever.”
“They were pretty entertained and surprised,” she shared of her sons’ reaction to the performance. “They were non-stop, just telling me things like, ‘Mom, you were incredible!’… They’re my best cheerleaders.”
The singer also has plenty of support from her enthusiastic fanbase, whom she has leaned on over the past year as she starting rebuilding her life following her split from Piqué, after more than 10 years together.
“I never thought really that my fans could sustain me and could be there for me in so many ways, you know?” Shakira shared. “I think that if it wasn’t because of them, I would’ve probably been a lot sadder, but they really gave me a lot to fight for and they’re just so loyal. Always, always having my back and there for me for so many years.”
“It never runs out and I think that they’re the best fans in the world,” she added. “I am so lucky. They’re just amazing.”
On Wednesday, Shakira dropped her newest single, titled “El Jefe (The Boss),”
“You can listen to my last seven songs and then you’ll find out a lot of information about me,” the performer told ET. “I think that I’ve been pouring my soul into these lyrics, especially lately. It’s been quite therapeutic, like a catharsis.”