Earlier this week, Lorraine featured Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa on ¡Mira Look! This amazing story for children written by Veronica Chambers and illustrated by Julie Maren is based on the inspiring rise to fame of Celia Cruz, the Cuban-born Cuban-American music icon widely regarded as ‘The Queen of Salsa’.
As the story focuses on her childhood and early rise to fame, I thought it would be a great opportunity to feature the amazing celiacruz.com, where you can find some of Celia’s greatest music videos from recent times, before she passed away in 2003. After all, one of the most incredible characteristics of Celia’s career was her longevity and uncanny ability to remain relevant no matter how much the salsa world was changing from the early days, when she and Tito Puente were carving away a place for salsa within popular culture in Cuba, the U.S. and beyond.
Before focusing on the videos, here are some important biographical facts to help put into context where she came from and how she became named by Smithsonian as the Most Iconic America in 2012:
- Celia Cruz was born Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso on October 21, 1925 in a working-class neighborhood of Havana, Cuba.
- She studied music theory and voice at the music academy in Havana from 1947 to 1950
- Her first recordings during the late 1940s made it onto Cuban radio and into the Havana nightclubs
- In 1950 she started singing for a popular Afro-Cuban orchestra called La Sonora Matancera
- Together with Sonora Matancera, Celia recorded various legendary albums and appeared in motion pictures, spreading the presence and popularity of Afro-Cuban music and culture throughout the Caribbean, South America, the U.S. and Cuba.
- Following the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro’s rise to power, Celia moved to New York City, where musicians from all parts of the Latin world were mixing and forming new styles, in which Celia Cruz’s music would play a central role for the next four decades.
More biographical information can be found by accessing the menu bar in the top right corner of the homepage of celiacruz.com. Under the videos tab, you will find three options. The first one, ‘The Absolute Collection’, is a series of incredible music videos that do a great job showing not only the classic dance club scenes but some mages of the Havana streets. The following two videos are two of Celia’s most famous tracks, equally as great to watch and listen.
Enjoy the dancing, the passions and the music. But most of all, enjoy Celia’s wonderful voice and vivacious smile!!
Image: “Celia Cruz in Cuba, ca. 1950s” by Narcy Studios, Cuba.