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ChocQuibTown’s Leading Lady, Goyo: On The Rise!

by Miss YaYa Vargas

Goyo: an Afro- Latina queen in her own right, inspired by and joining the ranks of multifaceted lyricists, the likes of Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Erykah Badu and Missy Misdemeanor Elliot. She edifies what it means to live and breathe this special niche in the evolution of Hip- Hop history, carving a unique path for herself in Latin music and culture.

For the 21st annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, Goyo is named one of the ‘Leading Ladies of Entertainment‘ honorees. According to The Latin Recording Academy, the initiative aims to “honor professional and socially conscious women within the arts and entertainment fields who have made significant contributions, inspiring the next generation of female leaders.”

Goyo’s front- and- center poise began as the leading lady and one- third of the widely successful triple platinum music group ChocQuibTown: a Colombian Hip-Hop ensemble, fusing various musical genres also including Funk, Reggae, Pop, as well as Latin rhythms like traditional Salsa, Latin Jazz, and Afro beat.

ChocQuibTown at the 2015 Latin GRAMMYs (left to right: Carlos “Tostao” Valencia, Gloria “Goyo” Martínez, Miguel “Slow” Martínez

Although officially formed in Cali, the members are originally from the Colombian department of Chocó, consisting of her long- time friend and now husband Carlos “Tostao” Valencia (rapping), Gloria “Goyo” Martínez (singing and rapping), and her little brother, Miguel “Slow” Martínez (production and rapping).

Billboard writer Leila Cobo says, “ChocQuibTown hails from Colombia’s rural Pacific coast, but honed its sound in Cali, a gritty city. One can hear both in the trio’s music: a melange… of rhythms, and rapper-singer Goyo Martinez’s soulful charisma.”

No stranger to The Latin Recording Academy, ChocQuibTown has been nominated for two GRAMMYs, nine Latin GRAMMY‘s, and won their first Latin GRAMMY in 2010 for the single “De Donde Vengo Yo“, a politically-charged song shining a light on the groups views on injustice and corruption in their barrio, while demonstrating strength and pride in their upbringing.

The group is a perfect balance of commercial hits, like their collaboration with Panamanian artist Sech on “Que Lástima“, and “Fiesta Animal” with New York native Notch, while also sharing knowledge and history like on their album, Detrás de la Máquina.


Goyo performing at the 15th Annual Latin GRAMMYs

In a recent interview over Zoom with the Sistah Sistah Podcast, chatting from her living room in Quibdo, Goyo makes it very clear that a huge part of being an overall entertainer is to not only show your audience a great time, but also the extreme importance to educate its listeners. Whether subtle like in filming the music video for love song “Nuquí (Te Quiero Para Mí)“, on the beaches of Nuquí in Chocó as a way to pay tribute to their home department and to encourage tourism to the area; to in- your- face messaging like in “Oro“, in reference to the exploitation of minerals in their native region, where gold miners have been known to barely make enough money to survive.

Born Gloria Martínez, July 12 1982, in the small town of Condoto in the department of Chocó in western Colombia, Goyo was raised on the principles to defend and uplift not only her hometown and her country, but Latinos of darker complexion, women all over the world, creatives and thinkers seeking truth and justice.

 

She recounts her childhood, when as a kid one of Goyo’s responsibilities at home was to organize her fathers vinyl collection.  This joyful task introduced her to so much diverse music like Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and Run DMC from Northern America, El General from Panama, Fela Kuti from Africa, and sounds from all over. Although what seemed like worlds away, growing up on the coast allowed for sailors to provide access to other countries music when they arrived to port. Not only did Goyo admire the rhythms, exploring different album covers also opened her mind to the artwork, questioning the different choices in color and fashion, the various instruments and job titles written on the sleeves.

This eye for discovery and detail resonates in her own sense of style, as seen in the fashion Goyo wears from day to day, as shared on her Instagram account, to photoshoots and music videos, to her own clothing and accessories line in the works.

One of her favorite songs from her fathers record collection at a young age is from Puerto RicoEl Grand Combo‘s “Goyito Sabater“. She sang along to the song so often her family called her “Goyito”, later shortened to “Goyo”.

Goyo and bandmate/ younger brother, Slow

Giggling, Goyo remembers her first public performance, where she and her younger brother Miguel were inspired by a group performing at a local music festival, fusing the same genres they enjoyed listening to. Ten years old at the time, the two took to the streets, Goyito singing while her brother, 7 years old at the time, rapped while holding speakers playing a beat, entertaining their small town of Condoto. From then the siblings were on a quest to develop their own musical group.

Some peers joined in on the fun, and a collective began to take shape to become a group of Afro artists from the pacific, with different rap styles like Wu- Tang Clan. However, while the Martinez kids and their childhood friend Carlos pictured themselves touring arenas worldwide, the rest of the kids over time left the group to pursue music or other talents elsewhere. Hence, leaving the three to form the epic group, ChocQuibTown. when she was just 13 years old.

 

At first, the trio received push back from friends and family on the name, worrying people outside of the groups immediate circle would have a hard time with the pronunciation: CHOC is the region in which they were born, QUIBDO is the capital of CHOC, and TOWN the English word for pueblo/ barrio/ lado, as a way to pay homage to their beginnings and roots, all in honor of ChocQuibTown‘s musical journey.

Goyo shares with Sistah Sistah what a huge influence Lauryn Hill has been throughout her career, saying “when Lauryn Hill came on the scene she showed female rappers they didn’t HAVE TO be overly sexual, they felt free to be able to wear other hats producing, singing and writing. It was all about the music, also the importance of ancestry, with vital political and cultural messages in her music”.

How Goyo represents herself as an artist is a conscious daily effort that comes naturally. “It’s important to create music without boxing yourself in to one sound or style, without limits, because Latin music is a reflection of the world”, she says. “To rap is unique because it tells YOUR story, your life story is YOUR rap.” She puts emphasis on staying authentic to ones self, focusing on the love and support from her fans, ignoring the opinions of nay- sayers.

With ancestry in the forefront of everything she does, Goyo talks about what an honor it is to be part of the Afro- Latinos: An Untaught History documentary, produced by long time friend and Emmy Award winner, Renzo Devia. Through conversation for the project, spanning over 7 years, Goyo says it’s made her grow as an artist and mother, to learn about Afro culture in other countries like Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, where this demographic is often over looked and under appreciated, yet continuously appropriated.

Along with lack of knowledge for some about the vast Afro- Latino world population, comes the issue of racism and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Goyo shares a heartfelt concern for hate crimes taking over not only in the United States, but in Colombia as well. When word of George Floyd’s violent death at the hands of law enforcement reached global exposure, Colombian media outlets simultaneously ran news clips about a local Black Latino kid, Anderson Arboleda, who was killed in a similar manner close to Bogota, just days before Floyd but had not been brought to light perhaps until the US case.

The singer- songwriter passionately abhors the injustices people of color suffer parallelally everywhere. She is doing her part, starting in her own community meeting with local officials and activists to rally for justice for Anderson Arboleda and others not getting the media exposure and justice they deserve. She knows there is power in the platform she has earned as a woman in the public eye, and makes it a point to speak upon crimes against people of color and what steps everyone, person of color and ally, can take to diminish horrible hate crimes in societies across the world. Upon learning about Arboleda‘s story, Goyo took to Twitter stating, “#RacismIs when the police KILL a young Black man in Puerto Tejada, supposedly for breaching quarantine rules and this is not passed through mass media, is this not enough to outrage a country?”.

Goyo and her daughter, Saba

 

Goyo also shares the joys of motherhood, as she has a 7 year old daughter, Saba, stating they are the best of friends. When asked if she sees signs of a budding young star, she says, absolutely! She encourages her daughter to explore any and everything from sports to music and acting. Goyo’s little girl is learning how to play the piano and shows great interest in taking voice lessons with her moms vocal coach. Since becoming a mother in 2013, it has allowed her to be even more focused on being a creator.

 

 

As an activist, mother, wife, entertainer and business woman, Goyo’s path continues to flourish. Being recognized as one of the Leading Ladies of Entertainment at the 21st annual Latin GRAMMY Awards is a well deserved honor.


Click below for the full Sistah Sistah Podcast interview with Goyo

 

 

 

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