To make someone smile is memorable and to make someone laugh is powerful. But to bring cultures together through song and dance is a rhythm and movement achieved by the honorary Celia Cruz. Before Cruz’s recognized title as the “Queen of Salsa”, she was just one child out of fourteen growing up in Havana, Cuba. Finding love for music as a teen, Cruz took it upon herself to sing for a local Havana radio station, then later for recording studios outside of Cuba. It was this risk under the Fidel Castro period that was her ultimate life changing reward.
By 1950, Celia Cruz put herself on the map when she became the lead singer of Sonora Matancera, a reknowned Cuban orchestra–but according to sources this adventure was not favored by former fans of Sonora Matancera as they saw Cruz as an amateur. However, this criticism did not stop her drive. In fact after fifteen years of working with the group, Cruz came across the talented Tito Puente who she would soon make eight albums with under Tito Records.
With just eight more years of striving for success, Cruz got her fame from the album Celia y Johnny. Her music continued to take off, single after single, album after album. In 1990, Cruz won a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Performance and was later awarded the National Medal of Arts by former president Bill Clinton. Even in the early 2000’s Celia Cruz was still a winner, taking Grammys for Best Salsa/Merengue Album—her last one to date being in 2004.
Celia Cruz died July 16, 2003 at the age of 77 but her legacy still remains. From her star placed on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, to the artists we see and hear today, especially throughout the Latin/Afro sound, there is evidence that Celia Cruz inspired, challenged, revived, motivated, and delivered herself by the art of voice. And the most beautiful thing about that is language held no obstacle. Whether Spanish speaking or full blown English, the sound of Celia Cruz provoked a sort of energy translatable to everyone.
The best way to describe the intensity of Celia Cruz’s voice is with a simple word: soul. From the raspy vocals to the sexy rolls of her tongue, Cruz dominates the essence of salsa that reached all generations for many years. That being said please acknowledge the Selena’s, Shakira’s, Ivy Queen’s, Gloria Estefan’s, and Erykah Badu’s (I know I’m mixing genres!) as products of our lady Cruz. Muchas gracias a la Reina de la Salsa! Azucar!
Click here for free download of “Que Le Den Candela” by Celia Cruz
Click here for free download of “Oye Como Va” by Celia Cruz
Click here for free download of “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” remix by Celia Cruz
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