Cruz, Celia

Cruz, Celia,

1929–2003, Cuban-American singer, b. Havana. The "Queen of Salsa" began singing as a teenager, and in 1950 joined Sonora Matancera, Cuba's most popular band. She left Cuba a year after Fidel Castro came to power (1960) and was an exile in the United States for the rest of her life. Over the years Cruz sang with nearly every major Latin band, and was particularly noted for her appearances with Tito PuentePuente, Tito
(Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr.) , 1923–2000, American musician, b. New York City. One of the premier composers and players of Latin music, he was a bandleader, pianist, and virtuoso percussionist.
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's orchestra. A fiery performer who wore skintight costumes and billowing blonde wigs, she sang (in Spanish) a range of Afro-Cuban songs, from traditional SanteríaSantería
, religion originating in W Africa, developed by Yoruba slaves in Cuba, and practiced by an estimated one million people in the United States. Blending African beliefs with those of Roman Catholicism, it fuses Christian saints with African deities (orishas).
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 chants to popular mambos, cha-chas, and the salsa for which she was famous. An international star and an icon to the Cuban-American community, she toured widely, sang in clubs and concert venues, and made more than 70 recordings.
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