of Cuban Singer Honored
Ramiro Burr -- San
Antonio Express-News. September 28,
SAN ANTONIO -- Salsa singer Celia Cruz
came from humble origins in Cuba to become
a larger than life persona known for her
Her professional accomplishments, from
her struggles to her greatest moments, are
examined in the new national touring Smithsonian
exhibition "Azucar! The Life and Music
of Celia Cruz."
"Celia was one of the most popular,
important singers in the 20th century and
she deserves to be honored," said Marvette
Perez, the curator of Latino History and
Culture at the National Museum of American
History, Smithsonian Institution. "Her
music and her legacy deserve to be recognized.
For people who only knew of her contemporary
career, there's a lot of information on
the beginning of her life. The exhibit is
a great historical overview of her career."
The exhibit traces Cruz's life through
personal documents, photographs, costumes,
music and rare video footage.
In addition, the Museo Alameda, where the
exhibit was displayed locally, scheduled
a months-long program of educational presentations,
films, concerts and lectures. Performing
groups taking part include percussionist
Henry Brun, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts
Center Dance Company, Orquesta Ritmo Caribe,
and Judi Deleon & the Latin Connection.
Cruz's career spanned six decades and took
her from humble beginnings in Havana to
many world stages. She was known for her
piercing voice, flamboyant sequined dresses
and headpieces, and her signature rebel
yell Azucar! (sugar).
The exhibit includes items from her childhood
and early appearances with the band La Sonora
Matancera in Cuba.
"There are original costumes going
back to the 1950s and (including) the last
dress she wore before her death, and also
her wigs and her shoes" Perez said.
"There's also lots of photographs and
some of which were never seen before, many
from her days in Cuba.
"There's also many personal documents
of her, like her makeup case, and you get
a really good idea about the power of her
performances, the power of her voice, and
how amazing she was."
Brun also worked with Smithsonian officials
to produce a compilation CD to the exhibit
that will be on sale at the museum.
Brun said the 10-track "The Music
of Celia Cruz" includes many of her
hits from her heyday with New York's Fania