Lucrecia’s “Celia Cruz: The Musical!” to Open in New York City’s Lehman Center in November

Lucrecia is ready to bring a legend’s story to life in the Big Apple…

The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts has just announced the New York premiere of Celia Cruz: The Musical!, starring the 52-year-old Cuban singer as the late Queen of Salsa, scheduled for November 16. 

lucrecia-as-celia-cruz-the-musical

The show, which premiered at the Starlite Festival in Marbella, Spain, and has been performed at Miami’s Adrienne Arscht Center, was written and directed by Gonzalo Rodríguez and Jeffry Batista, with Omer Pardillo-Cid, the executor of the Celia Cruz Estate, as executive producer.

Pardillo has described Cruz as “a black woman, who was poor, who left Cuba and conquered the world,” becoming, he says, “the Lady Gagaof her time.” 

The musical, which Pardillo ensures tells the true story of the woman known all over the world as the “salsa queen,” re-creates Cruz’s final concert before her death in 2003 at age 77, flashing back to episodes cued by well-known songs, from “Quimbara”to “La Negra Tiene Tumbao.”

Celia Cruz

“Celia conquered the world with her voice and her huge heart,” Lucrecia says. “She was noble, a woman of the old school. She remembered everyone’s name. You’d meet her once and she’d be sending you postcards for the rest of her life.”

During the show, Lucrecia makes 18 costume changes, wearing dresses and wigs that a Miami seamstress painstakingly copied from Cruz’s original show wardrobe. The singer performs monologues that encapsulate different periods of Cruz’s life, setting up songs that took her career from Cuba, where as a young woman she had her big break with La Sonora Matancera, to the heady days of New York salsa with the Fania All Stars, to her later years as an international icon.

“My admiration, respect and love for Celia runs very deep,” Lucrecia says. “I do the show with love, without any sense of rivalry or trying to take her place. I come out on stage to bring her alive.”

Lucrecia, whose given name is Lucrecia Pérez-Saéz, became known in Cuba as a lead vocalist and pianist with the iconic all-women band Anacaona. In 1993, she settled in Barcelona and formed her own group. The Latin Grammynominee (for 2010’s Álbum de Cuba), frequently recognized on the street by her trademark colored braids, is now a household name in Spain for her role as the singing host of the children’s television series Los Lunnis; she also appears in movie based on the series that premiered in Spanish theaters early this year. 

Lucrecia is set to receive recognition as the Best Latin American Children’s Movie Actress and Best Children’s Music Singer at the Premios Latino 2019 awards in Marbella in September.

In 1998, Lucrecia appeared with Cruz, the great bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez and actor, musician and producer Andy Garcia at an event organized by Bacardi rum in Marbella.

 “I met her at the press conference,” she recalls. “I was so nervous.” During that presentation, Cruz called Lucrecia her successor.  Lucrecia wrote a song in Cruz’s honor, “Agua con Azucar y Ron.”

Lucrecia recalls Cruz calling her when she was pregnant, and later bringing gifts for her son. “La Vida Es un Carnaval” was the first song that Lucrecia sang to him in the hospital. They remained friends until the end of Cruz’s life.

Celia’s career was long, and when you have a career like that you can start on one path and then take another,” notes Lucrecia. “Of course, there are evolutions,” she says, pointing to Cruz’s 2001, “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” which has an urban beat and premiered accompanied by a fabulous video by Cuban director Ernesto Fundora

“Reggaeton was just coming out at that time, and there she was, doing reggaeton!

“They called her the queen of salsa,” Lucrecia adds, “but she was always the guarachera de Cuba. It was always about her Cuba, and taking it with her around the world.”

Gente de Zona to Co-Headline Celia Cruz Tribute at the Hollywood Bowl

Gente de Zona is preparing to pay tribute to a late compatriot…

The Cuban reggaeton group, comprised of Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcom Martinez, will perform at the the Hollywood Bowl’s special tribute honoring Celia Cruz.

Gente de Zona

Co-headlined by Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Angélique Kidjo and Gente de Zona, the tribute to the late Queen of Salsa will take place on August 9 as part of the Hollywood Bowl’s Jazz at the Bowl summer series.

In addition to the Latin Grammy-winning duo and Kidjo, Pedrito Martinez will also perform at the tribute.

The Pedrito Martinez Group, whose Habana Dreams album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Tropical Albums chart last June, will be the opening act.

It’ll be the first time Gente de Zona has performed at the iconic Hollywood Bowl.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Hollywood Bowl’s summer season this year. See you soon in California,” the “Traidora” singers tweeted.

The Celia Cruz tribute is part of the Hollywood Bowl’s summer 2017 lineup recently announced. Other Latin artists on the summer schedule include Café Tacvba, La Santa Cecilia and Mon Laferte, who will perform at the Bowl on Sepember 17 as part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA series.

Angelique Kidjo to Perform Celia Cruz Tribute at the Hollywood Bowl

Prepare to be bowled over by Celia Cruz’s music…

Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo is set to perform a special tribute to the late Cuban singer, who passed away in July 23 at the age of 77, at the Hollywood Bowl.

Celia Cruz

It’s all part of the 2017 Jazz at the Bowl summer series, kicking off July 19, featuring eight Wednesday evening concerts.

Cruz is hailed as the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century, earning 23 gold albums. She was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. She was renowned internationally as the “Queen of Salsa“, “La Guarachera de Cuba“, as well as The Queen of Latin Music.

Guided by Herbie Hancock, the L.A. Philharmonic’s creative chair for jazz, this year’s series features performances by a diverse lineup of established and emerging artists, including Kidjo’s Cruz tribute on August 9.

The lineup also includes performances by Jill Scott and the Robert Glasper Experiment, Andra Day, Leslie Odom Jr. and more in a salute to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, and Steve Winwood with Mavis Staples.

The complete 2017 Jazz at the Bowl schedule, as well as ticket information, is available at www.HollywoodBowl.com.

Cruz to Receive Musical Tribute at This Year’s Latin American Music Awards

Celia Cruz may be gone, but she’ll be remembered in a big way at the inaugural Latin American Music Awards.

The late Cuban-American salsa singer/performer and seven-time Grammy winner, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 77, will receive a musical tribute produced by Sergio George at the Latin AMAs.

Celia Cruz

George, a tropical music legend, has rounded up a diverse group of performers to honor the late Queen of Salsa’s legacy during the October 8 telecast on Telemundo, airing live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Colombian sensation Maluma, princess of salsa India, Mexican icon Yuri and singer/actress Aymée Nuviola — who portrays Cruz in the new Telemundo series Celia — will sing a medley of her most beloved hits.

Presenting the tribute are Puerto Rican actors Jeimy Osorio and Modesto Lacén, who play Cruz and her husband/manager Pedro Knight during their younger years on Celia (Nuviola and renowned theater actor Willie Denton play the couple later in life).

Slated for an October 13 premiere, Celia chronicles Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso‘s evolution from a shy teen in pre-revolution Havana, Cuba, to a larger-than-life figure that brought the world to its feet with the power of her voice, inimitable style and exuberant presence. Along the way, Cruz battled racism, sexism and defied expectations of what a black female musician could achieve in the ’50s.

Other performers confirmed for the Latin AMAs include Paulina RubioDaddy YankeeJesse & JoyReikFarrukoFonsecaShaggyLil Jon, YandelNatalie La Rose, Jencarlos Canela, Luis CoronelCD9Gloria TreviGerardo Ortiz and Il Volo.

A Young Cruz Celebrates Christmas with Cuban Orchestra Sonora Matancera in Just-Released Footage

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.

Celia Cruz

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.

Ronstadt’s “Heart Like a Wheel” Added to the National Recording Registry

One of Linda Ronstadt’s most acclaimed recordings will live on in the archives of American history…

The 67-year-old Mexican American singer’s Grammy-winning fifth solo album Heart Like a Wheel has been inducted into the Library of CongressNational Recording Registry.

Linda Ronstadt Heart Like a Wheel

The album, released in 1974, is considered to be Ronstadt’s masterpiece recording and a pioneering blueprint of country rock.

In the 1970s, a decade that saw the rise of singer-songwriters, Ronstadt – who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this month – was a bit of an anomaly. Primarily an interpreter, she was blessed with excellent taste in song selection and the talent to put her own stamp on each of her covers.

Heart Like a Wheel continued her tradition of eclecticism and featured covers of songs by Hank Williams, Paul Anka and Little Feat’s Lowell GeorgeIt also shows a keen ear for new material, like the achingly beautiful title track by Anna McGarrigle.

What made this album different from Ronstadt’s previous efforts was the additions of producer Peter Asher, who had been crucial to the career of James Taylor, and Andrew Gold, who arranged the music and played several instruments on the album sessions.

Ronstadt told the Library of Congress that the title track on the album “became an iconic song for me. That was the first chance I got to record a little bit more complex, emotionally, pieces instead of just trying to sing rock ’n’ roll. I never thought of myself as a rock ’n’ roll singer. I sang rock ’n’ roll because I liked to eat.”

Heart Like a Wheel was the first of Ronstadt’s three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, reaching the summit for the week ending February 15, 1975, alongside the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, “You’re No Good.”

But Ronstadt’s prized work isn’t the only Latin album among the latest batch of 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” recordings to be preserved this year.

Celia & Johnny, the album released in 1974 by the late Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco, is also being inducted into the National Recording Registry.

Cuba’s Cruz was a dominant artist in the Afro-Cuban scene of the 1950s, when she sang with the great Sonora Matancera band. She came to America in 1962 and did well initially, but by the early 1970s, her career entered a slump as Latin styles nurtured in the U.S. became dominant.

For this album, rather than re-create the large orchestras that Cruz usually fronted, Pacheco – a New York-based bandleader and co-founder of the Fania Records label — assembled a small group that included pianist Papo Lucca, tres player Charlie Martinez and several percussionists, including himself.

This proved to be the perfect setting for Cruz to reach a newer and younger audience while remaining true to her roots. And she responded with some of the most inspired singing of her career, especially in the album’s many improvised passages. The album’s opening rumba, “Quimbara,” was a huge dance-floor hit, and Cruz soon was acclaimed as the Queen of Salsa.

This year’s 25 selections raise the number of recordings in the registry to 400, a fraction of the Library’s vast recorded sound collection of more than 3.5 million items.

Every year, the Librarian of Congress, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board, selects 25 recordings that are at least 10 years old; the best existing versions of each are housed in the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va.

“These recordings represent an important part of America’s culture and history,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said. “As technology continually changes and formats become obsolete, we must ensure that our nation’s aural legacy is protected. The National Recording Registry is at the core of this effort.”

Nominations were gathered through online submissions from the public and the NRPB.

The National Museum of American History to Memorialize Cruz

It’s been nearly 10 years since Celia Cruz passed away… But she’s remained one of the most influential artists in Latin music… And, now she’ll be memorialized in our nation’s capital.

The legendary Cuban-American singer—known as the “Queen of Salsa” —will be the subject of a new biographical portrait by Robert Weingarten, a noted photographic artist, at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Celia Cruz

As part of the museum’s “Frame an Iconic American” contest, officials selected five iconic American figures who represented a different set of ideas. And after more than 11,000 votes cast, Cruz’s story of immigration, music and entertainment resonated with a clear majority of the voters.

“The comments on our contest pages hint at some of the challenges museum staff face when thinking about how we collect, preserve and present history” says Shannon Perich, curator of the upcoming Pushing Boundaries: Portraits by Robert Weingarten exhibition. “Which stories do we tell and why? For some commenters, local allegiances were most important. For some, having a personal connection was the deciding factor. Others wrestled with the various ways in which we recognize the many kinds of contributions our heroes make to our society. This dynamic dialogue is important and we thank you for sharing your points of view with us.”

Celia Cruz

Cruz, who passed away in July 2003 at the age of 77, recorded more than 80 albums and songs, many of which went gold or platinum, during a professional career that spanned more than 60 years. Cruz, who became known around the world for her piercing and powerful voice and larger-than-life personality and stage costumes, won five Grammy Awards and received various other honors for her contributions to Latin music. She collaborated with Gloria Estefan, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Rivera, David Byrne, Wyclef Jean and many other musical legends.

Celia Cruz

To learn more about Cruz, read a special tribute on the American History Museum’s blog or visit the museum’s online exhibition, ¡Azúcar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz.

Cruz beat Audie Murphy, Alice PaulSamuel Morse and Frederick Douglass for the honor. Weingarten’s finished portrait of Cruz will be displayed at the Smithsonian this fall.