It’s a special Christmas gift for Celia Cruz fans…
Festive footage has surfaced of the late Cuban salsa singer performing with the great Cuban orchestra Sonora Matancera.
The video was captured as part of the orchestra’s holiday album, which featured the young Cruz. It was recorded during Cuba’s last Christmas season before Fidel Castro claimed victory for the Revolution at the start of 1959.
In the vintage video, Cruz is spotted swinging her hips and flashing the bright smile that would make her famous as she sings a Spanish version of “Jingle Bells,” titled “Soy Feliz en Navidad.”
The 1958 album Navidades con la Sonora Matancera also included such Cuban-flavored Christmas numbers as “El Cha-Cha-Cha de la Navidad” and “Rumba en Navidad.”
Two years later, Cruz would leave Cuba, never to return. The singer who became known as the Queen of Salsa died in 2003. She remains the world’s best known Cuban artist.
Christmas celebrations were officially banned in 1969, following Castro’s declaration that Cuba was an atheist country at the start of the Revolution. The holiday was reinstated in 1997, anticipating Pope John Paul II’s visit to the island. Some artists in Cuba have since recorded new Cuban Christmas music.