Celia Cruz, La Sonora Matancera – Canta Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz’s big break came in 1950 when Myrta Silva, the singer with Rogelio Martinez’s Sonora Matancera returned to her native Puerto Rico. In dire need of a new singer, the band gave the young Celia Cruz a chance. She auditioned in June and at the end of July she was asked to join as lead singer and thus became the group’s first black front-woman. In her first rehearsal with Sonora Matancera, Cruz met her future husband Pedro Knight, who was the band’s second trumpet. Cruz debuted with the group on August 3, 1950. Initially, Cruz was not received with enthusiasm by the public, but Rogelio Martínez had faith in her. On December 15, 1950, Cruz recorded her first songs with the group, which were a resounding success. Her “musical marriage” with the Sonora Matancera lasted fifteen years. In this 1956 Seco album release, “Canta Celia”, she brandishes a vast array of Cuban rhythms, backed by the incomparable Sonora Matancera who had been working throughout Latin America for decades. The album features merengues, mambos, cha-cha-chas, guarachas, guaguancos and even a haunting plegaria. You can easily recognize where Johnny Pacheco ultimately came up with the inspiration for his spectacular hit album “Celia y Johnny” for Fania Records over twenty years later.