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Mayimba Music’s Zoila Darton On Embracing Identity and Building a Latin Music Empire


Zoila Darton of Mayimba Music Inc. (Image: Scott Furkay)

Zoila Darton, 30, is what we’d call a #bossbabe. The millennial marketing professional grew up in a music lovin’ familia. So, it’s no surprise, she’s heading the marketing department as marketing director and artist relations lead for Mayimba Music Inc, a robust New York-based independent music company, which was started by her mama, Marti Cuevas.

Darton works alongside her mother and brother, Carlos Martin Carle, in building Mayimba Music.

We got a chance to speak with the millennial mover and shaker. Darton shared her tips for working with family, opened up about her identity and revealed she’s a huge Selena fan.

Martinez: Mayimba Music is a breath of fresh air for artists within the Latin music market. Not only because its full array of services, but you investment in the artists (in them knowing their rights/responsibilities, etc.). You mentioned in your Billboard mag piece ‘the artists are human.’ What does Mayimba Music offer artists that other independent/larger companies don’t bring to the table?

Darton: We’ve built a culture of inclusion. When clients come in to talk to us, there are no strings attached. They find that it’s super open; we’re straight shooters. There’s no bullshit here…At the end of the day, we’re dealing with people. It’s just not about the sale. So they find it’s a comfortable place. Mayimba is like home for our artists!

We want to honor the client and their music.

What is your top tip for working with your family?

There’s a lot more on the line when it’s a small, family-run company. Keep your cool and always volunteer to get the coffee. By getting coffee, I mean, do extra nice things. Get lunch one day.

I always try to keep my cool.  Situations can easily spiral into something bigger. Keep calm and be respectful of each other.

Shifting gears a bit. How do you identify? Do you consider yourself Afro-Latina, or use another term to describe your race and/or ethnicity?

I say that I’m mixed [or that] I’m brown. My mother is white and my father is Jamaican and Panamanian.

With my identity, it took me awhile to really figure out what I was. I blocked it [identity] out for so long.  I had an awakening in school at the University of Delaware, a new sense of awareness. It was the first time I wasn’t around people like me and I realized that my identity really was a major part of who I was. It’s important for brown women to be proud of our identity, so future generations can feel a sense of pride too.

Which Latina matriarch do you most identify with and why?

Growing up, a woman named Maria [a friend’s mom] was essentially me second mom. She’s a big part of my growth as a Latin woman. My mother was an incredible role model but worked a lot so Maria was a big part of my life. She is the quintessential New York Puerto Rican woman; she also did my hair for ballet class when my mom was a bit clueless on how to handle my wild curls! I always admired her. Maria was very much into fashion and a straight shooter – very much like who I have come to be. She taught me a lot about myself.

Also, Selena. I loved Selena! Selena was similar to me in regards to her Latina heritage. Everyone in her family spoke Spanish, she didn’t but fell in love with her culture. She was able to connect with her community through entertainment. She was our quintessential American girl, but she was Latina.

Her story shows that you can do anything as a Latina through hard work and dedication. Her story is that of the American Dream.

What’s next for you and Mayimba Music?

Mayimba is growing and there are some exciting things happening. I can’t say just yet.  We’re adding on some super talented new clients. Some are in the Latin scope, some of them aren’t.

For me, I started managing the most incredible singer – Lisenny. I’m really excited about her and can’t wait to share what we are doing. I’ll also be revamping my blog and shooting some more profiles for ‘I Am A Mayimba,’  a series that highlights women who inspire me.

I’ll of course continue to work with artists making great music. That’s a given!

You can find Zoila on Twitter at @ZoilaDarton. Also, click here to check out her “I Am A Mayimba” series. 

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