Shakira Strips Off Her Skins, Copes With VMA Jitters

Singer strives to expose herself through her music.

Unlike most artists who grow more guarded and complex as their public persona intensifies, Shakira takes a different approach.

Rather than complicate her image with multiple facades or cloud her true self with an overstuffed ego, the Colombia-born singer strips away such external accoutrements to expose more of herself with each passing day.

"I think we come into this world dressed in many layers," she said, "and life is about tearing them off to hit the core of your essence. With every album I release and every year that goes by, I'm getting closer to where I am. And my fans accompany me in that process."

Such against-the-grain philosophy shouldn't surprise fans of the unconventional songstress, whose unorthodox lyrical metaphors, unapologetic worldviews and brash attitude are anything but divaesque. For proof, where some of her peers request thousand-dollar tour riders that often include flowers, pricey foods and beverages, candles for ambiance and strict rules about wall coverings, Shakira keeps it simple. Only room-temperature water and honey —

with the occasional dose of Robitussin —

are required in her dressing room.

"It's good for your voice," she said, bluntly.

Shakira doesn't need much. Although she amassed several million in worldwide record sales, including moving more than 1.5 million copies domestically of last year's Laundry Service, it's not success and all that comes with it that matters most to Shakira.

"Believe me, it's not giving interviews or posing in front of a lens [that is the best part of my job]," she said. "My favorite part of what I do is creating, getting introspective, digging inside me. Exploring inside my psyches and seeing what I find. And music is the only tool I have to do that."

Thanks to her music, Shakira may discover herself with something else on August 29 — four Moonmen. Laundry Service's first single, "Whenever, Wherever," is up for four Video Music Awards, and Shakira has been tapped as one of evening's performers, along with Ja Rule, Linkin Park, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Sure she's nervous about playing such a high-profile gig, but considering that the stage is among the top two places she feels comfortable, her jitters are manageable.

"There are only two places in the world where I feel uninhibited," she explained. "One is the bathroom, and [the other is] the stage. On stage I can be myself. Especially when I feel comfortable enough with the music and the arrangements that we put together. When the music invades me and takes control of my body, that is the best thing that can happen to an artist. When you don't have to think too much, you let yourself go and deliver yourself to the music. And the music rules."

Catch all the sizzlin', star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News' preshow kicks things off at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.

Vote for the Viewer's Choice Award, see a timeline of MTV Video Music Awards history, and more at our VMA web site.

Check out red carpet highlights, backstage reports, and all our VMA news in the VMA News archive.