The following Celia Cruz biography will highlight the Sala singing legends' poor beginnings and decades long career. Celia Cruz was hailed as the "Queen of Salsa," a title she was said to have carried with class and distinction. Celia possessed a powerful voice, coupled with a captivating rhythm that was recognized worldwide. Celia was also the world's most recongnized ambassador of Hispanic culture.
- The early years of Celia Cruz. Ms. Cruz was born Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alphonso on October 21, 1924 in Havana, Cuba. Celia's aunt took her to caberets to sing and perform in amateur contests when she was a teenager, and Celia's talent was quickly recognized. Celia grew up in Santos Suarez, a poor neighborhood that was rich with a diverse Cuban musical climate. When Celia discussed her desire to be an entertainer with her parents, her father Simon Cruz was against it. Celia's father wanted her to stay in school and become a school teacher. But Celia stayed on course, especially after she was told how much an entertainer could earn.
- 1950, the year a star was born. This was the year Celia Cruz began singing with the popular Cuban orchestra Sonora Matancera. Celia brought to the orchestra a mix of boleros, cha-chas and guarachas, a medium tempo style of Cuban street music that propelled Sonora Mantancera to farther heights. Sonora Matancera's music becan highly popular and Celia became known as "La Guarachera de Cuba. Celia left the orchestra in 1965 after a string of hits such as "Yerbero Moderno," "Burundanga," and "Caramelo."
- The talented Celia Cruz leaves Cuba and arrives in the United States. By 1962, Celia was married to fellow former band member Pedro Knight and living in Connecticut. Latin orchestras were already popular in the U.S. and Celia was invited to perform with them many times at New York's Tropicana nightclub. By then Celia was already a well established solo act know for wearing large wigs, elaborate dresses and skyscraper high-heeled shoes. For the next four decades Celia performed that which she loved; the root of Latin music, including Mambo and Salsa. Celia worked with the biggest stars throughout the decades, including Puerto Rico's Tito Puente and the Dominican "Godfather" of Salsa music Johnny Pecheco. Celia also collaborated with Aretha Franklin and Luciano Pavarotti. She even lent her talent to Disco and Rap music, covering Gloria Gaynor's dance classic "I Will Survive" and the hip-hop infused "La Negra Tiene Tumbao."
- The star continues to burns brightly even after she passes on. On July 16, 2003, Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alphonso died of a brain tumor in her New Jersey home. Her body was flown to Miami, FL., then back to New York City per her wishes. Tens of thousands of Celia's fans lined 5th Ave. to say goodbye. Celia made 76 records during her long career, she won multiple Grammys, appeared in several movies and earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.