Here is a special treat for all you Celia Cruz lovers. Celia, (aka “Queen of Salsa”, “La Guarachera de Cuba”, The Queen of Latin Music) in all her glory, performing with the world-renowned Johnny Pacheco in an exhilarating album that, until now, was not available to most of the general public. Never digitally.

Celia Cruz was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1925, by the given name Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso de la Santísima Trinidad. She began her illustrious career in the 40’s winning talent contests on the radio and at local functions. She honed her skills performing with various bands throughout Cuba until the 1950’s, when she gained recognition by singing for the world-renowned Sonora Matancera Orchestra where she recorded several successful albums. In 1959, forced to leave her country when Castro took control of the island, she left Cuba for a better life in the US with her husband, Pedro Knight. They eventually became American citizens. Banned from returning to Cuba, by Castro. Her career took an upward swing in 1966 when she was hired by the king of Latin music, Tito Puente, to front his popular orchestra.

She went on to record several albums for Tico Records, with Tito Puente, before leaving to sign with Fania Records and the incomparable Johnny Pacheco. Their first album, recorded in the early 70’s, “Celia & Johnny”, attained gold record status and the beginning of a remarkable era was created. Celia went on to record with the top Fania artists and toured the world with the illustrious Fania All Stars. Twenty gold records later, after receiving several Latin Grammy awards, and after appearing in movies, she was honored with her own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Celia Cruz left us in 2003, at the age of 77, creating a vacuum in the world of Latin music that is not likely ever to be filled.

Bobby Marin