Happy Birthday, Celia Cruz

By Al Macias
October 21, 2013
Celia Cruz Google Doodle

Today is the birthday of Celia Cruz. It’s been ten years since she passed away. She would have been 88 today, maybe. The Queen of Salsa was somewhat secretive about the year she was actually born.

Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso de la Santísima Trinidad was born in Havana, Cuba. She began singing professionally in the late 1940s on a Havana radio station. She traveled with a band throughout Latin America in the 1950s.

In 1959, as Fidel Castro came to power, she and her husband Pedro Knight fled Cuba and became U.S. citizens.

Cruz was known for shouting azucar (sugar) during her concerts.

According to the Celia Cruz Foundation website, “It started when we were dining with friends in a restaurant and the waiter asked if I wanted coffee with or without sugar …"

She was also known for her flamboyant appearance which included elaborate costumes and wigs. A collection of some of her costumes was honored by the Smithsonian in 2005 as part of a retrospective of her career.

Cruz's career spanned six decades. She performed with legends like Tito Puente and today’s performers like Gloria Estefan and Ricky Martin.

Whether she performed alone or with other stars, Cruz left her audience tapping a foot and shaking a hip.

Google has recognized her with a Google doodle on her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Celia.

Oye Como Va