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HomeNewsArchivesCELIA CRUZ EMBRACES THE SOUL OF HISPANIC SOUND

CELIA CRUZ EMBRACES THE SOUL OF HISPANIC SOUND

Jan. 24, 2002 – To call Celia Cruz "the queen of salsa," as much of her publicity does, is selling this icon of half a century's worth of Hispanic music short. The realm over which she reigns extends well beyond that.
In fact, the 10 cuts on her new CD, "La Negra Tiene Tumbao," range from the traditional mambo and rhumba rhythms of her native Cuba to other Caribbean sounds, the bolero, the Argentine tango and a touch of rap. (The title translates to "The black woman has tumbao" — a Cuban-rooted rhythm with variations including mambo that is produced by drumming on the double congas.)
And then there's Cuba's son music (literally "sound"), repopularized a few years ago in the rediscovery of the Buena Vista Social Club and the resultant recordings, tours and Oscar-nominated documentary film. And cha-cha-cha, the merengue, jazz and more.
So, call her instead, as the Europe Jazz Network does on the Internet, "the queen of Latin music." And if any and/or all of that is your kind of music, take advantage of the opportunity to see Celia Cruz perform Saturday night at the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
She'll be backed on the Reichhold stage by a 15-piece band out of Miami, Los del Son ("Those of the son music").
The covered section seats have been sold out since the end of last year — at a premium $65 a pop — but tickets for the open-air seating are available at $42 and $25.
Anglo music reviewers have compared Cruz's soneo ("phrasing") vocal style to the jazz genre of scatting. Her biography describes it as "rhymed/timed, rapid-fire staccato bits of witty wisdom, social commentary and general observations in tune to tunes."
"Afro-Cuban music is the root of today's salsa," Cruz has said. "It is steeped in cultural identity and embraces the folklore of every town and province of the tropics. It is a source of pride, of happiness, of being alive. It is what I bring to the people."
With more than 70 albums to her credit — some 20 of them having gone gold — Cruz has just come out with one more.
She has collaborated in recordings with Tito Puente (on eight albums, starting in 1966), with Johnny Pacheco (on four, from 1974), with David Byrne, and now with Emilio Estefan, who co-produced her 2000 Grammy Award-winning "Siempre Vivere" ("I'll live forever") and wrote the lyrics for two of its songs, and who recorded "La Negra Tiene Tumbao" in his Crescent Moon Studios in Miami. The new album includes backup by the Miami Symphonic Orchestra and has Puerto Rico's Mikey Perfecto contributing the rap segments on the title song.
Estefan, the husband of pop music star Gloria Estefan, said, "During my entire career, working with Celia Cruz had been a dream … Her personality, her human qualities, her talent, humbleness and pride make her a true artist."
Cruz, who among other things holds three Grammy awards and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, has been singing professionally since childhood. One of 14 children, she earned her first pair of shoes, according to her mother, by singing to a tourist in Havana who then bought them for her.
An aunt would take young Celia and a cousin to Havana nightclubs, where she got exposure to the local talent. She studied voice and music theory at Havana's Conservatory of Music, but her father wanted her to become a school teacher. She listened instead to one of her own teachers, who urged her to take a chance with music because "you could earn in one day what it takes me a year to make."
She made her radio debut singing on Havana's "Mil Diez," a station found, as the name translates, at 1010 on the dial. The station was owned by the Cuban Socialist Party, which in the post-colonial, pre-Castro era advocated, among other things, social change to benefit the masses of African descent.
In 1950 she got her big break — joining one of Cuba's top big bands, Sonora Matancera, as its vocalist. At first this didn't sit well with fans of her predecessor, and recording industry executives complained that female singers couldn't sell albums. But that soon changed, and she stayed with the band for over a decade.
In 1960, she left Cuba permanently to pursue a career in the United States. The next year she had a contract with the Hollywood Palladium, where she fell in love with the first trumpet of the house orchestra, Pedro Knight. They married in 1962, and three years later Knight decided to devote himself full-time to managing her career — something, 40 years later, he is still doing.
In 1973, she made her flamboyant Carnegie Hall debut. In 1989 she received her first Grammy. The second came in 2000 at the first separate Latin Grammy Awards ceremony. The third came on Oct. 30, 2001, at the second annual Latin Grammy Awards.
Because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it was not an internationally televised ceremony, but a press conference held in Los Angeles. But Cruz was there to accept the Grammy for Best Traditional Tropical Album, for "Siempre Vivere" — and to dedicate the award to the police and firefighters of New York.
A few years ago, Cruz, who records only in Spanish and speaks little English, reflected: "In a sense, I have fulfilled my father's wish to be a teacher, as through my music I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that can be found in just living life. As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar."
Jan. 24, 2002 – To call Celia Cruz "the queen of salsa," as much of her publicity does, is selling this icon of half a century's worth of Hispanic music short. The realm over which she reigns extends well beyond that.
In fact, the 10 cuts on her new CD, "La Negra Tiene Tumbao," range from the traditional mambo and rhumba rhythms of her native Cuba to other Caribbean sounds, the bolero, the Argentine tango and a touch of rap. (The title translates to "The black woman has tumbao" — a Cuban-rooted rhythm with variations including mambo that is produced by drumming on the double congas.)
And then there's Cuba's son music (literally "sound"), repopularized a few years ago in the rediscovery of the Buena Vista Social Club and the resultant recordings, tours and Oscar-nominated documentary film. And cha-cha-cha, the merengue, jazz and more.
So, call her instead, as the Europe Jazz Network does on the Internet, "the queen of Latin music." And if any and/or all of that is your kind of music, take advantage of the opportunity to see Celia Cruz perform Saturday night at the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
She'll be backed on the Reichhold stage by a 15-piece band out of Miami, Los del Son ("Those of the son music").
The covered section seats have been sold out since the end of last year — at a premium $65 a pop — but tickets for the open-air seating are available at $42.
Anglo music reviewers have compared Cruz's soneo ("phrasing") vocal style to the jazz genre of scatting. Her biography describes it as "rhymed/timed, rapid-fire staccato bits of witty wisdom, social commentary and general observations in tune to tunes."
"Afro-Cuban music is the root of today's salsa," Cruz has said. "It is steeped in cultural identity and embraces the folklore of every town and province of the tropics. It is a source of pride, of happiness, of being alive. It is what I bring to the people."
With more than 70 albums to her credit — some 20 of them having gone gold — Cruz has just come out with one more.
She has collaborated in recordings with Tito Puente (on eight albums, starting in 1966), with Johnny Pacheco (on four, from 1974), with David Byrne, and now with Emilio Estefan, who co-produced her 2000 Grammy Award-winning &q
uot;Siempre Vivere"
("I'll live forever") and wrote the lyrics for two of its songs, and who recorded "La Negra Tiene Tumbao" in his Crescent Moon Studios in Miami. The new album includes backup by the Miami Symphonic Orchestra and has Puerto Rico's Mikey Perfecto contributing the rap segments on the title song.
Estefan, the husband of pop music star Gloria Estefan, said, "During my entire career, working with Celia Cruz had been a dream … Her personality, her human qualities, her talent, humbleness and pride make her a true artist."
Cruz, who among other things holds three Grammy awards and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, has been singing professionally since childhood. One of 14 children, she earned her first pair of shoes, according to her mother, by singing to a tourist in Havana who then bought them for her.
An aunt would take young Celia and a cousin to Havana nightclubs, where she got exposure to the local talent. She studied voice and music theory at Havana's Conservatory of Music, but her father wanted her to become a school teacher. She listened instead to one of her own teachers, who urged her to take a chance with music because "you could earn in one day what it takes me a year to make."
She made her radio debut singing on Havana's "Mil Diez," a station found, as the name translates, at 1010 on the dial. The station was owned by the Cuban Socialist Party, which in the post-colonial, pre-Castro era advocated, among other things, social change to benefit the masses of African descent.
In 1950 she got her big break — joining one of Cuba's top big bands, Sonora Matancera, as its vocalist. At first this didn't sit well with fans of her predecessor, and recording industry executives complained that female singers couldn't sell albums. But that soon changed, and she stayed with the band for over a decade.
In 1960, she left Cuba permanently to pursue a career in the United States. The next year she had a contract with the Hollywood Palladium, where she fell in love with the first trumpet of the house orchestra, Pedro Knight. They married in 1962, and three years later Knight decided to devote himself full-time to managing her career — something, 40 years later, he is still doing.
In 1973, she made her flamboyant Carnegie Hall debut. In 1989 she received her first Grammy. The second came in 2000 at the first separate Latin Grammy Awards ceremony. The third came on Oct. 30, 2001, at the second annual Latin Grammy Awards.
Because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it was not an internationally televised ceremony, but a press conference held in Los Angeles. But Cruz was there to accept the Grammy for Best Traditional Tropical Album, for "Siempre Vivere" — and to dedicate the award to the police and firefighters of New York.
A few years ago, Cruz, who records only in Spanish and speaks little English, reflected: "In a sense, I have fulfilled my father's wish to be a teacher, as through my music I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that can be found in just living life. As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar."
To purchase tickets for Saturday's concert by charge card or to obtain information on ticket outlets, call the Reichhold box office at 693-1559. To order tickets online or by printing out a form you can fax to the box office with credit-card information, visit the Reichhold Center web site.
For Reichhold season subscribers and donors, there'll be a "mix and mingle" reception for the artist after Saturday's performance. It's not too late to purchase a half-season subscription, and it's never too late to become a donor. To find out more, call Reichhold marketing manager Dionne Carty at 693-1566.

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