Remembering Celia Cruz: Celia in My Heart

Repeating Islands


Smithsonian National Museum of American History curator Marvette Perez remembers “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz on the 10th anniversary of her death:

I stood in awe at the sight of such hyper-abundant exuberance: sequins, organza, silk, polyester, mirror beads, wigs, fuchsia, chartreuse, rings and earrings, bracelets, and a pair of custom outer space shoes ready for the take-off. Celia Cruz appeared before me in all her splendor, dressed to the nines, in the middle of the Washington Mall, by the reflecting pool, in a concert with Johnny Pacheco, founder of Fania Records, and her friend and collaborator. It was 1992, my second year as Curator at the National Museum of American History.

I can’t say I was hooked then, since I first got hooked as a young adolescent, growing up in the 1970s in Puerto Rico, where the sounds of Latin music were part of my daily life. El…

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