After high school she attended the Normal School for Teachers in Havana, intending to become a literature teacher. Her musical breakthrough came in when she replaced lead singer Myrta Silva of the popular orchestra La Sonora Matancera. Cruz sang regularly with the ensemble on radio and television, toured extensively, and appeared with it in five films produced in Mexico. Success came after Cruz became identified with salsa , a Hispanic dance music that evolved from musical experimentation with Caribbean sounds. With a voice described as operatic, Cruz moved through high and low pitches with an ease that belied her age, and her style of improvising rhymed lyrics added a distinctive flavour to salsa. Her flamboyant costumes, which included varicoloured wigs, tight sequined dresses, and outlandishly high heels, became so famous that one of them was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution.
Who Was Celia Cruz?
Fania Records co-founder Jerry Masucci had an eye for talent, and at a Fania All-Stars concert in Puerto Rico in , he unveiled the dazzling new jewel he had added his roster. She was born to sing. Blessed with a powerful, clear voice, able to improvise and deliver chants honed in two decades as a consummate performer, Celia seemed to carry Africa in her throat. Introduced to a new generation, to new themes and less traditional arrangements, Celia had no difficulty with the nuances of Salsa. Like many prominent s Cuban musicians, Celia and her husband Pedro Knight chose exile from the Castro regime. The collaboration yielded eight albums.
CELIA IN NEW YORK
Cruz rose to fame in Cuba during the s as a singer of guarachas , earning the nickname "La Guarachera de Cuba". In the following decades, she became known internationally as the "Queen of Salsa" or "The Queen of Latin Music" due to her contributions to Latin music in the United States. She began her career in her native Cuba , earning recognition as a vocalist of the popular musical group Sonora Matancera , a musical association that lasted fifteen years Cruz mastered a wide variety of Afro-Cuban music styles including guaracha, rumba , afro , son and bolero , recording numerous singles in these styles for Seeco Records. In the early s, after the Cuban Revolution caused the nationalization of the music industry, Cruz left her native country, becoming one of the symbols and spokespersons of the Cuban community in exile. In the s, she signed for Fania Records and became strongly associated with the salsa genre, releasing hits such as "Quimbara". During the last years of her career, Cruz continued to release successful songs such as " La vida es un carnaval " and " La negra tiene tumbao ". Her musical legacy is made up of a total of 37 studio albums, as well as numerous live albums and collaborations. Throughout her career, she was awarded numerous prizes and distinctions, including two Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.
Her father, Simon Cruz, was a railroad stoker and her mother, Catalina Alfonso, was a homemaker who took care of her large extended family. Cruz began performing on local radio stations and she recorded her first track in Venezuela in After fifteen years with Sonora Matancera, Cruz struck out on her own as a solo artist in She began collaborating and recording with Tito Puente among other musicians. Always singing in her native Spanish, she recorded seventy-five records, twenty-three of which went gold, and received a host of honors and awards including the National Medal of Arts and a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy. While her salsa music was prolific, she also performed rumba and reggaeton, and starred in films. Known for her powerful voice, colorful costumes, and energizing rhythm, Cruz was a vivacious entertainer that appealed to all generations. She influenced everything from fashion to music. She is still one of the best-known Latin artists and one of the most famous Afro-Latinas in the world. In , Cruz passed away from brain cancer.