Celia Cruz performs at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Netherlands on July 25, 1987.
The world lost the tropical music queen 15 years ago, but she lives on through these unforgettable songs.
Celia Cruz’s career had spanned more than half a century when she died on July 16, 2003, at age 77. Her popular nickname, “the Queen of Salsa,” was something of a misnomer; Cruz reigned not only as the female star of 1970s New York’s Latino immigrant music scene, but as an essential artist whose voice transmitted both the sacred sound of timeless Afro-Cuban music and the swing of Cuba’s Pre-Revolutionary big band era. More than a witness to the evolution of Latin music in the United States, she was the embodiment of it. A crossover pioneer, she kept on making hits and breaking ground as a senior citizen. Most of all, she spread joy wherever she went. In homage on the 15th anniversary of her death, here are ten eternal Celia Cruz songs.
Celia Cruz’s star quickly rose on stage and screen in Cuba after the fledging singer joined La Sonora Matancera, a band whose members included her future husband Pedro Knight, in 1950. Here she sings “Juancito Trucupey” on Cuban TV in 1956.