Celia Cruz performing at the Latin Grammy Awards, 2002.
(born Oct. 21, circa
1929, Havana, Cuba—died July 16, 2003, Fort Lee, N.J., U.S.) Cuban-born U.S. singer. She was studying to become a teacher in her native Havana when she won a talent show, after which she began to pursue a singing career. In the early 1950s she became lead singer with the popular orchestra La Sonora Matancera, often headlining at the famous Tropicana nightclub. After Cuba's revolution of 1959, the orchestra moved to Mexico and later to the U.S. In 1962 Cruz married its first trumpet player, Pedro Knight, who became her manager after she left the group. In the 1960s she released more than 20 albums in the U.S., including seven with Tito Puente
. She became identified with salsa
, a dance music that evolved from the musical experimentation of various Hispanic musicians with Caribbean sounds during the late 1960s. Cruz was the subject of a 1988 BBC documentary and appeared in films such as The Mambo Kings
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.