updated 11/16/2006 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/16/2006 AT 9:35 AM ET
There’s a new landmark in the South American port town of Barranquilla, Colombia: a six-ton statue of the homegrown pop diva Shakira.
Fans unveiled the tribute Wednesday, only hours before a festive benefit concert organized by its favorite daughter, the Associated Press reports.
“Barranquilla is the big breast that fed and nurtured me as a human being, a woman and an artist,” said the performer, who dominated the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony Nov. 2 in New York – where she walked away with five awards.
“Returning is a chance to be with all the people from whom I learned and to pay homage to my roots,” said Shakira, 28.
Proceeds from Wednesday’s show, part of Shakira’s Oral Fixation tour, will go to build an arts school for 1,800 children displaced by Colombia’s civil war.
The statue, which stands 15 feet, was revealed amid great fanfare, including a cornet-led band, carnival dance troupe and 3,000 fans. The figure itself was made of iron and donated by a German fan, sculptor Dieter Patt.
The planned art school, to open in 2008, will be funded by Shakira’s foundation, Pies Descalzos (Spanish for “bare feet”), and will be in La Playa, a poor suburb of Barranquilla where 45 percent of the residents are minors – but only about half of them attend school. It will be the sixth school funded by Shakira.
“Starting when I was 15, I’d go every Friday with schoolmates to teach children how to read,” said Shakira. “I never imagined those childhood emotions would one day give birth to such a significant project.”