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.”

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.