In Salsa’s history, the name Celia Cruz is synonymous to a legend. She was called the Queen of Salsa, and one of the best soneras in Salsa music. She had the ability to improvise lyrics in the middle of the song.
She had a very powerful voice and the charisma that made her a favorite among Salsa enthusiasts as well as her fellow Salsa musicians, who accorded her the highest respect. Celia Cruz was born in Havana and she started singing while she was still a very young girl. She got exposed to professional music when her uncle brought her to nightclubs and cabarets. Cruz was encouraged to enter a talent show where she won.
Celia Cruz joined the Cuban Music Conservatory in 1947 and was inspired by the music of Paulina Alvarez, an Afro-Cuban soloist. She got her major break after joining La Sonora Matancera in 1950, the group she stayed with until 1965. They went on world tours and she later married Pedro Knight, the band’s trumpeter. When the Cuban revolution triumphed in 1959, she and Knight decided to become American citizens, signed with the Hollywood Palladium orchestra but finally settled in New York. When she left La Sonora Matancera, she became a solo singer, formed her own band and collaborated with some of Salsa music’s who’s who for several recordings, including Oscar D’León, Cheo Feliciano, Héctor Rodríguez and Johnny Pacheco. Cruz was a member of the Fania All Stars. Some of her popular songs include ”Sopita En Botella,” ”Burundanga,” ”Tu Voz” and ”Regalo de Alma.”