[acid-jazz] there's a Queen song about this...

From: Peter Nicholson (bournik_at_svn.net)
Date: 2003-07-17 05:54:28

  • Next message: Jason Palma: "[acid-jazz] Higher Ground Playlist July 10th 2003"

    Man, what a rough couple of weeks for elder states(wo)men....

    Cuban Salsa Queen Celia Cruz Dies at 77

    The Associated Press
    Jul 16 2003 10:43PM
    NEW YORK (AP) - Celia Cruz, who went from singing in Havana nightclubs to
    become the ``Queen of Salsa,'' died Wednesday, her publicist said.

    Cruz, who was 77, died of a brain tumor. She had surgery for the ailment in
    December but her health faltered. She died at her home in Fort Lee, N.J.,
    according to her publicist, Blanca Lasalle.

    Her husband, trumpeter Pedro Knight, was at her side; the pair had
    celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary on Monday, Lasalle said.

    Ruben Blades, a frequent collaborator and friend, called Cruz a classy icon
    whose dynamic performances became her trademark.

    ``Celia Cruz could take any song and make it unforgettable. She transcended
    the material,'' Blades told The Associated Press

    in a phone interview Wednesday night. ``With Celia, even the most simple of
    songs became injected with her personality and her vigor.''

    ``I don't think you could hear anything she ever did and be indifferent,''
    he said.

    Cruz studied to be a teacher in her native Havana, but was lured into show
    business when a relative entered her in a radio talent contest, which she
    won. She later studied music at the Havana Conservatory and performed at
    the world-famous Tropicana nightclub.

    In the 1950s, Cruz became famous with the legendary Afro-Cuban group La
    Sonora Matancera. She left Cuba after its 1959 revolution for the United
    States in 1960, and never returned.

    With her powerful voice and flamboyant stage shows, Cruz helped bring salsa
    music to a broad audience.

    ``She became a symbol of quality and strength, and she became a symbol of
    Afro-Cuban music,'' Blades said. ``You couldn't be a fan of Celia and not
    be a fan of Afro-Cuban music, because she was Afro-Cuban music.''

    Cruz dazzled not only with her voice but also her personality. Always
    flashing a wide smile, the entertainer gave a highly energetic stage show,
    punctuated often by her trademark shout, ``Azucar!'' in the middle of a
    song. The word, which means sugar in Spanish, became her catch phrase after
    a waiter apparently asked her, to her surprise, if she wanted sugar in her

    Her alliance with fellow salsa star and ``Mambo King'' Tito Puente resulted
    in some of the biggest successes in her career. The two recorded albums and
    regularly performed together, and they were considered legends of the genre.

    She was also a member of the Fania All-Stars, the Afro-Cuban music
    collective that recorded for the Fania record label in the 1970s, along
    with Blades and Willie Colon. She dazzled listeners with fiery songs such
    as ``Quimbara.''

    Blades noted that although she was typically the only woman excelling in
    the salsa field, she was never intimidated.

    ``She was a proud woman in a male-dominated business where she excelled
    because she had class herself,'' he said.

    She recorded more than 70 albums and had more than a dozen Grammy
    nominations. She won best salsa album for ``La Negra Tiene Tumbao'' at last
    year's Latin Grammy Awards, and won the same award at this year's Grammy
    Awards. Among her other best-known recordings are ``Yerberito Moderno'' and
    ``Que le Den Candela.''

    Called the ``Queen of Salsa'' and the ``diva of Latin song,'' Cruz remained
    energetic late into her career, popular with young audiences as well as
    old. At last year's Latin Grammys, she showed up wearing a frothy
    blue-and-white headpiece and a tight red dress and gave a hip-shaking

    In 1987, she was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and
    several years later, the city of Miami gave Calle Ocho, the main street of
    its Cuban community, the honorary name of Celia Cruz Way.

    Cruz also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian
    Institution and in 1994, President Clinton honored her with an award from
    the National Endowment for the Arts.

    The Recording Academy and Latin Recording Academy issued a statement
    Wednesday that read in part: ``One of Latin music's most respected and most
    revered vocalists, Celia Cruz was an icon of salsa, tropical and Latin jazz
    music. ... Thank you, Celia, for teaching all of us that life should be
    lived with much `Azucar!'''

    Pop and salsa singer Marc Anthony, a friend who recently paid tribute to
    Cruz at a gala concert, said in a statement: ``We are witnessing the end of
    an era. She is simply irreplaceable and it's just an honor to know that she
    was a part of my life.''

    Blades said Cruz's music and the legacy she left behind would live on.

    ``The real death begins when you forget,'' he said. ``No one is going to
    forget Celia.''

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