Colombian pop star Shakira will be awarded Artist of the Year by the Harvard Foundation in recognition of her contributions to music and her social work in countries around the world.
The renowned singer, songwriter, and philanthropist from the port city of Barranquilla will receive what foundation calls its most prestigious medal on February 26 at the Cultural Rhythms festival, which will be held on the grounds of the influential American university.
“The students and faculty of the Harvard Foundation are honored to present multi-platinum artist Shakira with the 2011 Artist of the Year award,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation. “Her contributions to music and distinguished history of creativity have been applauded by people throughout the world, and she is greatly admired worldwide for her humanitarian efforts through her Barefoot Foundation.”
Shakira established the Barefoot Foundation when she was only 18 years old. Since that time the organization has opened six schools. While predominantly based in Colombia, Shakira is expanding the organization worldwide and has already opened schools in Haiti and South Africa.
“We shouldn’t think of this as charity. Every child has talent to be developed and the potential to become a productive member of society. Education is a powerful tool to unlock those talents — and to break the cycle of poverty that too often traps them,” Shakira said to the Harvard Gazette.
Since 2003 Shakira has also been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.