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Celia Cruz & Tito Puente

Celia Cruz was one of Latin music's most respected vocalists. A ten-time Grammy nominee, Cruz, who sang only in her native Spanish language, received a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement award, a National Medal of the Arts, and honorary doctorates from Yale University and the University of Miami. A street in Miami was even renamed in her honor, and Cruz's trademark orange, red, and white polka dot dress and shoes have been placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute of Technology. The Hollywood Wax Museum includes a statue of the Cuba-born songstress. According to the European Jazz Network, Cruz "commands her realm with a down-to-earth dignity unmistakably vibrant in her wide smile and striking pose."

One of 14 children, born in the small village of Barrio Santos Suarez, Havana, Cruz was drawn to music from an early age. Her first pair of shoes was a gift from a tourist for whom she sang. In addition to spending many evenings singing her younger siblings to sleep, Cruz sang in school productions and community gatherings. Taken to cabarets and nightclubs by an aunt, she was introduced to the world of professional music. At the encouragement of a cousin, Cruz began to enter and win local talent shows. Although her father attempted to guide her toward a career as a teacher, Cruz continued to be lured by music. In a 1997 interview, she said, "I have fulfilled my father's wish to be a teacher as, through my music, I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that is found in just living life. As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar." Enrolling in Cuba's Conservatory of Music in 1947, Cruz found her earliest inspiration in the singing of Afro-Cuban vocalist Paulina Alvarez. Her first break came when she was invited to join the band la Sonora Matancera in 1950. The group was revered as the Latin equivalent of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Cruz remained with the group for 15 years, touring throughout the world. She married the band's trumpet player Pedro Knight on July 14, 1962. With Fidel Castro's assuming control of Cuba in 1960, Cruz and Knight refused to return to their homeland and became citizens of the United States. Although they initially signed to perform with the orchestra of the Hollywood Palladium, Cruz and Knight eventually settled in New York. Knight became Cruz's manager in 1965, a position he held until the mid-'90s when he began to devote his attention to serving as her musical director and conductor of her band.

Leaving Sonora Matancera's band in 1965, Cruz launched her solo career with a band formed for her by Tito Puente. Despite releasing eight albums together, the collaboration failed to achieve commercial success. Cruz and Puente resumed their partnership with a special appearance at the Grammy Award ceremonies in 1987. Signed by Vaya, the sister label of Fania, Cruz recorded with Oscar D'Leon, Cheo Feliciano, and Hector Rodriquez in the mid- to late '60s. Cruz's first success since leaving Sonora Matancera came in 1974 when she recorded a duo album, Celia & Johnny, with Johnny Pacheco, trombone player and the co-owner of Fania. She subsequently began appearing with the Fania All Stars. Cruz's popularity reached its highest level when she appeared in the 1992 film The Mambo Kings. Cruz also appeared in the film The Perez Family. She sang a duet version of "Loco de Amor," with David Byrne, in the Jonathan Demme movie Something Wild. In 1998, Cruz released Duets, an album featuring her singing with Willie Colon, Angela Carrasco, Oscar D'Leon, Jose Alberto "El Canario," and la India. Cruz continued to record and perform until sidelined by a brain tumor in 2002. While recovering from surgery to remove the tumor, she managed to make it in to the studio in early 2003 to record Regalo de Alma. Her surgery was only partially successful and she died July 16, 2003. The passing of the "Queen of Salsa" left a huge gap in Latin music, but also a remarkable catalog to document her reign. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi
full bio

Comments

She will always be the queen!
Esta maravillosa sra.siempre estara en los corazones de todos,especi a l m e n t e en los cubanos, ella nacio en Santos Suarez y les dire que yo naci en Santos Suarez y no era un lugar pequeno,era una ciudad bastante grande dentro de la Havana ( saves como le decian a la gente de Santos Suarez los mejores bailadores de la Havanna ( que rico) .
I LOve this cuba queen ,her songs and persona will always be in my heart this small P.R.
mikerodrigue z 1 1 0 7
The Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music was founded too by my father William Rodriguez who is also playing piano on her last albulm.
The singer is Hector Lavoe El Flaco de Oro.
I like celia cruz!!!!!!!
prplemuzikgr l
I Adore Celia Cruz!!! She will always be Queen!!
alejandro100 0 9
The statement that she only sang in Spanish is not true. She sang every song that featured her in the film Mambo Kings in English. Also she sang Hava Nagila in some hebrew, although not entirely.
Yeah well I can't understand a single WORD she's singing but I love this woman's voice! MAN!
vassalp
Jaja y no estoy de acuerdo contigo, uxmal832. La inimitable Cruz es un tesoro y pertenece AL MUNDO ENTERO! :) Que viva la reina siempre.
Berthica says Celia Cruz is a Cuban Glory forever and I disagree with her because she is a Latin America Glory forever. I am not Cuban but I feel Celia Cruz as my own. Lo siento Berthica pero Celia Cruz no es de Cuba, petenece a America Latina.
cubanasabros a
Cuban Glory for ever
celia will never ever be forgettingby any of us... she has the best songs ... and her voice will never ever be some else to replace her talent, celia was unic... she had her own style her voice it was from her self.... i love her music!
acolonolivo
Celia Cruz will always live in the hearts of all latin people she was truely loved her music still is and will be our favarite
Celia, for us Cuban is the Queen of Salsa the Queen of soul, she is and was our Elizabeth the Great, she is Cuban, she is ( Esa negra tiene tunbao), she was our Voice outside Cuba and United States, every where that she goes, she took Our flag with her, that is why we CUBAN LOVE HER, and adore and for us she not dead, we still listen to her music, like it she was living today.For us time has not passed, she is our history, and she is our past, WE LOVE Celia where ever she is now, we adored her.
Celia, Was truly an artis and a legend in her own time . Infact" she was instumental in changeing what was once called "Latin music" to what we call "Salsa" today
cmofields
She is absolutely Legendary. I have always had an appreciation for Salsa but never a Love for the music until I was re-introduce d with this wonderful lady. May she live forever in our hearts and continue to keep us on on our feet with these classic pieces . Y que viva la salsa! ,Cyndi A.Z.
The Queen never recorded a bad song in her recording life. Louis A. NYC
mrselwapo1
THE ABSOLUTE BEST!

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