Karol G: The girl from Medellín is now the woman of the year

This year the recording artist is up for Billboard’s 2024 Woman of the Year award and her ‘Mañana será bonito [Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful]’ tour will stop in 12 Latin American countries, demonstrating her international success

Karol G en la ceremonia de los premios Grammy, el 4 de febrero.
Karol G at the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 4.Jason Armond (Getty Images)
Julieta Sanguino

Carolina Giraldo Navarro is celebrating her birthday on February 14 in Mexico this year. The 33-year-old will bid farewell to her best year in the entertainment industry so far. The Colombian was the first Latin woman to reach number one globally with an album in Spanish, appeared in Netflix’s Griselda, became the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Urban Music Album and broke a record by becoming the female artist with the most shows at Mexico’s Azteca Stadium; and in a matter of minutes, Karol G sold out tickets for four of her concerts in the country’s most important stadiums, not just the Coloso de Santa Ursula.

In 1996, when she was five years old, the singer of “Mañana será bonito [Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful] was already showing her passion for singing. Accompanied by drums and a small family audience, she was encouraged to follow along with the lyrics. “Qué voy a hacer, qué voy a hacer, qué voy a hacer si Eva María se fue [what am I going to do, what am I going to do, what am I going to do if Eva Maria left],” the artist crooned while the improvised music accompanied her singing and enthusiastic hip movements. “Even at family wakes, they used to make me sing, I always used to liven up all the parties,” said Karol G in an interview on the Colombian nightly variety show Yo, José Gabriel [I, Jose Gabriel]. Thanks to the encouragement of her father, Guillermo Giraldo, who is also a musician, she was able to make her debut early in her childhood.

Because of her father’s insistence, the Antioquian also made her first public appearance on the reality show Factor XS, an adaptation of the American The X Factor in which Colombian children competed to be the country’s next talent. Karol G was 14 years old when she participated and was just a few shows away from making it to the finals. However, this flash of fame on television did not launch her career, although it did lead her to stand on stage before thousands of people and she got a record deal with Flamingo Records in Colombia and Diamond Music in Puerto Rico.

Karol G
Karol G at a performance in Miami in June 2016. Alexander Tamargo (Getty Images)

Soon after, Karol G stood next to iconic Colombian host Jorge Baron on El show de las estrellas [The Stars Show] to make her debut on a national television broadcast, “I had had the opportunity to sing in several places but not in front of such an extremely large audience,” Karol G declares, conveying her emotion through the screen while her team of dancers and backup singers wait for the signal to begin the act.

She performs “Por ti [For You],” one of her first songs, and Daddy Yankee’s hit “Noche de entierro [Burial Night]” in a totally different tone. The people chant excitedly while on stage her team cheers non-stop, “left, right!” The host gives her a kiss for “good luck,” a sign of La Bichota’s success, although it was slow in coming.

In 2010 she was still singing in the living room of her house, which resembled any middle-class home in Latin America with an old-fashioned television, helium balloons that no longer fly and a wooden door adorned by a litmus star, La Bichota decided to record herself in the hopes that someone famous would recognize her talent and launch her to fame.

“They say that Justin Bieber was seen singing in a YouTube video, [he was discovered by] Usher, the great singer. And that’s where he got his first contract and started his career. I wanted to try everything possible, I tried recording videos on YouTube but the truth is, nothing came of it,” said the singer on the television show Yo, José Gabriel, where she also confessed that her dream was to do a duet with Rihanna.

Karol G went to college in Antioquia, a Colombian hotbed of music, for five years without forgetting her passion, but the lack of opportunities made her question her dream. She opened for Don Omar, did backup vocals for Reykon for two years and then decided she wanted to leave music for good and moved to the United States, where she learned English. However, an advertisement for a music course on the business side of the industry that she saw every day on her way to school reminded her of her ambition and she returned to Colombia to pursue her career.

She met Rihanna during the 2023 Super Bowl and although they have not worked together so far, they took pictures and chatted for over an hour on the day of the event. So far, La niña de Medellín [the girl from Medellin], as Karol G is also known, has collaborated with talents such as Nicki Minaj, Daddy Yankee, Dj Tiësto, Shakira, Bad Bunny, Maluma, Romeo Santos, Kali Uchis, Peso Pluma, Sean Paul, Carla Morrison and Anuel AA (her ex-partner).

Her success came when she released 301 with Reykon in 2012, the first time she would be heard nationally. More than ten years later, Karol G fills stadiums and venues of all kinds. The virtual lines to see her, wherever she is, have made her one of today’s most popular singers.

The Coloso de Santa Ursula stadium, in Mexico City has a capacity of 80,000 people and she had three shows there, on February 8, 9 and 10. She will perform on February 16 and 17 at the Mobil Super Stadium in Monterrey, and on February 24 at the 3 de marzo U.A.G. Stadium in Jalisco.

Taylor Swift and Karol G
Karol G with Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 4. John Shearer (Getty Images)

In 2023, she set a sales record for her U.S. tour, the highest grossing tour of all time by a Latin artist, a record she also broke in 2022. San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium gave her the record for the highest grossing Latin show, tickets sold and attendance; while the Rose Bowl in Pasadena recognized her for having the first Latin show with two sold-out performances with over 120,000 attendees in one weekend.

This year she is expected to receive Billboard’s 2024 Woman of the Year award on March 6, joining the list of powerful women who have won it, including Madonna, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Cardi B. In addition, her tour will take her to Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and her native Colombia, where her only concerts on April 5 and 6 at the El Campín stadium are sold out.

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