Beautiful and talented Celia Cruz was born ‘Ursula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso’, on October 21, 1925, of Afro-Cuban descent. Growing up Cruz’s musical career was influenced by listening to many talented musicians. She is noted for being one of the most popular salsa artists of the 20th century, and later became known as the “#Queen of Salsa“.
As a young teenager her aunt would take her to sing in cabarets, but her father and mother were not behind the idea of Cruz becoming a performer, they wanted her to pursue a career of teaching. However, after hearing that she could make in one day what teachers made in a month as a performer, she was quickly persuaded into performing. She began singing at Havana’s radio station. She later made her first recordings in 1948 in Venezuela.
Cruz spent much of her career in the United States and some Latin American countries performing and sharing her talent. She earned 23 gold albums and was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. She was also a ten-time Grammy nominee. People often refer to her as being one of the most influential figures in the history of Cuban music. She received many awards and recognition during her time.
In 2003, Cruz died died of brain cancer at the age of 77. Her last album was released in February of 2004 entitled, Regalo de Ama, which won a posthumous award at the Premios Lo Nuestro for best salsa released of the year. Google honored her with a Google Doodle in 2013, and Jennifer Lopez performed a selection of Cruz’s songs at the 41st American Music Awards.