Queen of Latin Music


Musical Notes — Celia Cruz

Produced by Lawrence Standifer Stevens

Written by Joseph E. Casanova



Legendary Cuban songstress Celia Cruz made the entire world want to dance and yell “¡Azucar!” (Sugar) with salsa classics, Oye Como Va and La Vida Es un Carnaval (Life Is a Carnival).

Spanish network, Telemundo, recently premiered a new drama series entitled Celia based on the singer’s early life, focusing on the birth of her career in the midst of the Cuban revolution.  

Celia also traces the Guarachera de Cuba’s enduring relationship with her husband, trumpet-player Pedro Knight. 

“The Queen of Latin Music,” as she was often called, was born in 1925 in Havana, Cuba, and passed away in 2003 at age 77 in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Knight died four years later in California.

The six-time Grammy winner scored international club favorites with La Negra Tiene Tumbao (The Woman Has Swagger) and a cultural version of I Will Survive called Yo Vivire.

Celia Cruz’s music inspired me to sign up for Friday night salsa lessons at one of the local universities.    

I had been out with friends and saw how much fun they had grooving to the tropical beats.     

“I can do this!”     

“Of course, you can!” I saw one or two of them rolling their eyes.    

I was about to prove them wrong.     

But. . . the class wasn’t what I expected. The music should’ve been more contemporary instead of that old school material. However, I asked this attractive, older lady to dance. She eyed me up and down “Oh, sure. Why not?!”

I took her hand and thought “I got this.”     

However, after a couple spins around the dance floor, she hobbled away and said, “Umm. I think I’ll go salsa with someone who actually knows how!”

I had accidentally stepped on her feet, nearly ruining her new pair of heels. I’m surprised she didn’t send me a bill.    

Despite it all, I took Celia Cruz’s advice and decided to live my life as a carnival. Well, at least one of the sideshows.