Gloria Emilse Martínez, "Goyo," is a singer, producer, and co-founder of the Grammy Award Winning group, ChocQuibTown. Born in Condoto, Chocó in the Colombian Pacific coast, she is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring Colombian artists going global today. This beautiful and talented singer powerfully represents her Afro-Latina identity and Pacific heritage (cue her seminal song, Somos Pacífico), and has used her voice and platform to bring awareness to the culture and reality of Afro-Colombians.
In 2020, the Latin Grammys named Goyo a "Leading Lady of Entertainment," making her the first Afro-Latina to receive the honor. Through her music and activism, she seeks to educate, inspire hope, and champion justice and equality. Read along as she shares her story, beauty philosophies, and creative spirit.
What is your hometown and where do you live today?
I am from the Condoto department of Chocó in the Colombian Pacific, one of the most beautiful places in Colombia given the abundance of natural resources. Currently, I am living in Bogota, but I spend a lot of time in Miami as well.
Tell us about your journey. How did your career start?
The year 2000 was when I first felt that I wanted to create music. I was very young, but music was always on the list of things I wanted to do. When I became a teenager, I felt the need to pursue it, but it seemed so out of reach, given that Afro-Latino artists like me were not reflected in the market. It seemed very challenging, but I wanted to do it anyway. 2000 marked the year Choquibtown got together and six years later, we had the opportunity to record. Music has been important to me since I was a child and the same goes for my family. I used to sing in school or village celebrations in different parts of Condoto. I grew up in a place where music was important because it was part our family life.
"[Music] seemed so out of reach, given that Afro Latino artists like me were not reflected in the market. It seemed very challenging, but I wanted to do it anyway."
Where do you draw inspiration for your music and how do your roots influence your work?
I am a composer and I find that certain moments speak to me. Ever since we started, it was always a priority to communicate our origins to the audience. This is why we constantly repeated “we are Pacific” and “this is where I come from” in our lyrics. Our songs talk about who we are, because we will always be the story that we tell. I mention this to give some context, because every moment is different. With time, one evolves and starts to experiment with other genres, for example hip hop. Sometimes we explore folk music too. I grew up listening to traditional music, but I also lived in Buenaventura where I listened to hip hop. I was very much influenced by the greats of that time like Tupac and the Fugees. This is why I think it’s so important to create your own world when you are writing, but to also create songs that reflect reality.
"Our songs talk about who we are, because we will always be the story that we tell."
Throughout your career, you’ve had many different beauty looks. How do you use beauty as a vehicle for creative expression?
I think that beauty is definitely an expression of creativity because it inspires and it is so subjective that anyone can define it as they please. This is why I don’t believe in labels like “The Urban Singer”, I feel like it should be more about the person and the experiences that shaped them. I draw inspiration from the 80s, but I like to incorporate natural or essential elements from my culture. For example, in the recent photographs I did for Vogue Mexico and Latin America, I used necklaces by ByXan which consist of delicate hand-painted beans. I think it’s important to experiment, but also to showcase your essence. All human beings possess a unique essence.
You spend a lot of time between Bogota and Chocó. How does your beauty look change in the different places?
The relationship that one has with clothing is very much connected to your mood and cities have a big influence in how I feel. They give me that little something extra. I like to really feel it because it is important to experience the elements of a particular city and the people you find there.
What is your favorite inherited beauty lesson or practice, from your mother, family, culture?
When I was growing up, I remember that taking care of your skin was always important. Some of the things that we used were aloe vera, celidonia, and herbs. When we were little, they would bath us with panela (unrefined sugar cane) which was a big hydrator. We also used the indigenous plant jagua, a kind of tincture, and sand from the river as an exfoliant. In general, everything was based off plants and natural elements.
Walk us through your skincare routine
My routine is pretty quick and not too complicated. I use two small drops of Skinceuticals Retexturing Activator. I like it a lot, it was recommended by my dermatologist. I have mixed skin with a tendency towards oily, which is why I always wash my face. I use Cetaphil Anti-Oil and dermatological products for acne because I have always dealt with this. I try to always wash my face in the morning and at night, although my mom says not to wash it so often.
Who is your beauty icon?
I have many! I love Iman’s skin— it reminds me of my mom’s. Also, Naomi Campbell. I had the opportunity to see her go down the runway in New York and I could not believe her glowing skin. Of course, she was wearing make up, but you could tell that it was very healthy. I find Grace Jones’ beauty very captivating and I am a fan of everything Rihanna does.
The more time passes, the more I realize that what you really want is more life. With age, you lose minerals and natural oils and if you can get some of them back through products, that is fantastic! This is why I like what you [Joaquina Botánica] and Rihanna are doing.
"The more time passes, the more I realize that what you really want is more life."
Soon, you will be awarded the “Leading Ladies of Entertainment 2020” award during the Latin Grammys. Do you have a particular look in mind?
I would love to use an oversize suit in a bold, unexpected color like fuchsia. I want it be a nod at the future, but also honor the past. A classic piece with futuristic elements. I would also love to show off some skin so that they see that I am not a child anymore! For make up, I want it to be as natural as possible. Neutral Earth tones with a golden touch on the eyes and my hair with an afro. Also, defined lips that shine a lot.
Could you share some wellness advice?
One of the more positive things to happen to me recently is having met a person called Mama Jenny. She is deeply involved in women’s leadership and in a particular conversation we had, she spoke to me about the importance of not judging. That resonated a lot with me. Sometimes, you find yourself in these fits of anger that are caused by judgement. It’s about trying to understand why the other person is behaving that way and having empathy. I try to take this to all of my relationships, including my professional ones. This helps me make less mistakes and be more resilient.