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Celia Cruz

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 Puente'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 Santería 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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