Cruz, Celia

Cuban born salsa star, Dr. Celia Cruz studied voice and music theory at the Conservatory of Music in Havana, beginning her career on radio and television in the Caribbean.

Music has been a part of her life from childhood, but her musical career came about as something of a surprise. She was studying to be a teacher when a cousin encouraged her to pursue music. One of 14 children, Cruz explained that she used to sing to put her brothers to sleep, “and people used to come to the door when they would hear my voice. My cousin noticed that I had some talent.” She sang a tango on a local radio program and won a prize. A career was born.

Her first talent award was received in 1947, in her native Havana. Shortly after, she enrolled in the National Music Conservatory, where she studied musical theory, voice, and piano. Soon her music was in demand from the worlds of radio, movies, and television.

In the early 50’s she joined the legendary group La Sonora Matancera, and together they wrote some of the most memorable chapters in Afrocuban music. On July 15th, 1960, she left her homeland for the United States, where she continued to make history. That decade, she recorded several albums with maestro Tito Puente and together they sparked an interest in salsa among Anglo and European audiences, with songs like La Bamba. This phenomenon was known as “the Salsa of the 70’s”. Her collaborations with other maestros, such as Johnny Pacheco, Willie Colón, and the Fania All Stars, are also memorable.

She has been honored with stars and street sections in some of the world’s most visited avenues. In 1987, Hollywood bestowed on her a star in the Walk of Fame. Years later, Miami’s Calle Ocho was named “Celia Cruz Way”, and in 1991, that city also presented her with a star; an honor that she as also received in other celebrity sidewalks, such as the one in San José, Costa Rica, and the Plaza Galería, in Mexico City.

Although she’s received many distinctions, the 90’s have marked a very special period in her career. In this decade, the Smithsonian Institution gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award, the Republic of Colombia awarded her the Presidential Medal in Arts, she received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Hispanic Heritage Awards, and the City of San Francisco declared October 25th, 1997 as “Celia Cruz’s Day”, to name a few.

But undoubtedly, one of the most memorable moments in her life was in 1994, when in the White House she received from the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, the highest honor this country bestows an artist: the National Endowment for the Arts.

By now, Cruz, who combines bold tonal control, passionate intensity and improvisational flair, has become synonymous with salsa, and with Cuban musical culture. She has recorded nearly 75 records and has garnered her fair share of accolades, including a Grammy. She was an obvious choice for an appearance in the film version of Oscar Hijuelos’ novel “Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love,” alongside mambo king Tito Puente. Her work with Puente dates back to the ‘50s, while she was still in Cuba.

It is not exactly clear when they started calling her “the queen of salsa”, but she has carried the title with class and distinction. Celia has recorded with some of the biggest names in music: Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, David Byrne, Gloria Estefan, Wyclef Jean. Because her talent transcends generations and tastes, she has also performed with rock groups such as the Fabulous Cadillacs and Jarabe de Palo.

Her voice, talent, and charisma have conspired to produce one of the most impressive track records in the music industry. It goes without saying that her more than 70 albums have garnered a healthy amount of gold and platinum records, plus more than a hundred awards from prestigious institutions worldwide. She has received twelve Grammy nominations, winning it for the first time in 1989.

Celia Cruz has received three honorary degrees from the following US universities: Yale, Florida International University, and the University of Miami. She’s also appeared in about 10 movies, with The Mambo Kings and The Perez Family among the most recent.

In spite of all her talent and the awards she has received, Celia Cruz is incredibly down to earth and her happiness is contagious. These are the traits she’s used to write one of the most important chapters in the history of Afrocuban and world music. It’s enough to mention Celia’s name to have people’s spirits fill with joy and their hearts with music. That’s because she is the highest representative of this musical genre, and the most notable ambassador of Hispanic culture in the world.

Sony Records announced that it would release the second album that Cruz has recorded for that label, La Negra Tiene Tumbao, on 25 September 2001. The Queen of Salsa returns to deliver her sophomore album under the Sony Music label. This latest album has the first new material from Cruz since “Siempre Viviré“, released in 2000, which was dedicated to the legendary Puerto Rican artist, Tito Puente.

Cruz passed away on 16 July 2003 of a brain tumor, at age 78. She left behind a legacy had a great impact on the music of Puerto Rico and all of Latinamerica.


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Candela Pura (2003)

Celia Cruz, El Carnaval De La Vida (2003)

Siempre Celia Cruz Boleros Eternos (2003)

Celia Cruz: 50 Anos Cantando Para Ti (2003)

Regalo del Alma (2003)

Joyas Musicales (2003)

Exitos Eternos (2003)

Unrepeatable (2002)

Serie 32 (2002)

Salsa [Arc] (2002)

Recuerdos de Cuba (2002)

La Negra Tiene Tumbao [Bonus Track] (2002)

La Musica Latina: Grandes Mitos Del Siglo XX [IMPORT] (2002)

Hits Mix (2002)

Feliz Navidad (2002)

Feliz Navidad (2002)

Edicion Limitiada (2002)

Celia Cruz & Tito Puente (2002)

Carnaval de Exitos (2002)

Canto a la Caridad (2002)

Son con Guaguanco/La Excitante (2001)

Salsa: Best of... (2001)

Legends of Salsa (2001)

Legends Collection: Tito Puente & Celia Cruz (2001)

Legends Collection: Tito Puente & Celia Cruz (2001)

Great Celia Cruz (2001)

Gozando (2001)

Cuba Bella (2001)

Cocktail Hour (2001)

Celia Cruz y La Sonora Matancera[Orchard] (2001)

Celia Cruz & Bienvenido Granda (2001)

At the Beginning... (2001)

14 Grandes Exitos (2001)

100 Años de Danzón (2001)

100 Años de Bolero (2001)

Tropical del Siglo (2000)

Siempre Vivire (2000)

Salsa (2000)

Queen of Salsa (2000)

Queen of Cuban Rhythm (2000)

On Fire: The Essential (2000)

Mambo King Meets Queen of Salsa (2000)

Habanera (2000)

En Vivo Radio Progreso Ano 1956 V.3 [LIVE] (2000)

En Vivo C.M.Q. (1951-1952) [LIVE] (2000)

Dos Idolos Su Musica (2000)

Celia Cruz and Friends (2000)

Brillante: Best of... (2000)

Angelitos Negros (2000)

Alma Con Alma (The Heart & Soul) (2000)

Tributo a Los Orishas (1999)

Sonora Matancera (1999)

Salsa Superstar (1999)

Latin Roots (1999)

Hoy y Ayer (1999)

Golden Years (1999)

Cuban Queen (1999)

Cuba Grandes Damas (1999)

Con Sabor a Cuba (1999)

Colección de Oro (1999)

Absolute Best Salsa (1999)

Mi Vida Es Cantar (1998)

La Irresistible: 15 Top Hits 1946-1950 (1998)

La Guarachera de Cuba (1998)

Fieston Tropical (1998)

Cuba Guaracha Y Son (1998)

Afro-Cubana (1998)

Tambien Boleros (1997)

Queen of Rumba (1997)

La Reina de Cuba (1997)

El Merengue [International Music] (1997)

Duets (1997)

Cuban Legend (1997)

Cuba: Sus Mejores Interpretes (1997)

Cuba Idolos De Siempre, Vol. 2 (1997)

Con La Sonora Matancera (1997)

Cambiando Ritmos (1997)

Bolero: Dos Grandes Idolos (1997)

100% Azucar: The Best of Celia Cruz & La... (1997)

Sabor de Cuba (1996)

Celia Cruz (1996)

30 Exitos: Reynas de La Musica Tropical (1996)

The Best [Vaya] (1995)

Nuevos Exitos (1995)

Irresistible (1995)

Festejando Navidad (1995)

Epoca de Oro (1995)

Double Dynamite (1995)

Cuba's Queen of Rhythm (1995)

Vamos a Guarachar (1994)

The Best, Vol. 2 (1994)

The Best, Vol. 2 [Vaya] (1994)

Merengue [Saludos Amigos] (1994)

Mambo del Amor (1994)

Las Guaracheras de La Guaracha (1994)

Irrepetible (1994)

Homenaje a Los Santos (1994)

Madre Rumba (1993)

Los Originales (1993)

Lo Mejor de Celia Cruz (1993)

Introducing (1993)

Boleros (1993)

Azucar! (1993)

Azucar Negra (1993)

Tributo a Ismael Rivera (1992)

Las Estrellas de la Sonora Matancera (1992)

La Verdadera Historia (1992)

Exitos (1992)

The Best (1991)

Grandes Exitos (1991)

Canciones de Celia Cruz con La Sonora... (1991)

Tesoros Musicales: 20 Exitos Originales (1990)

La Guarachera del Mundo (1990)

Con Sonora Mantancera, Vol. 4 (1990)

Con Sonora Mantancera, Vol. 3 (1990)

Con Sonora Mantancera, Vol. 2 (1990)

Con Sonora Mantancera, Vol. 1 (1990)

Celia Cruz Y La Sonora Matancera [Sony] (1990)

Nostalgia Tropical (1989)

Ritmo en el Corazon (1988)

The Winners (1987)

La Candela (1986)

De Nuevo (1986)

Homenaje a Beny More, Vol. 3 (1985)

Feliz Encuentro (1982)

Celia & Willie (1981)

Celia/Johnny/Pete (1980)

La Ceiba (1979)

Eternos (1978)

Brillante (1978)

A Todo Mis Amigos (1978)

Only They Could Have Made This Album (1977)

Tremendo Cache (1975)

Algo Especial Para Recordar (1972)

Etc. Etc. Etc. (1970)

Quimbo Quimbumbia (1969)

Serenata Guajira (1968)

La Excitante (1968)

Bravo Celia Cruz (1967)

A Ti Mexico (1967)

Son con Guaguanco (1966)

Cuba Y Puerto Rico Son (1966)

Sabor y Ritmo de Pueblos (1965)

Canciones Premiadas (1965)

Mi Diario Musical (1959)

La Incomparable Celia (1958)

Su Favorita (----)

La Reina del Ritmo Cubano (----)

La Dinamica (----)

Celia Cruz y Tito Puente en España (----)

Celia Cruz Y La Sonora Matancera [Orfeon] (----)

Canta Celia Cruz (----)