25 Azúcar Facts About Celia Cruz That Will Make You Love Her Even More
Celia Cruz was the Cuban-American singer who brought color and soul to the world. As the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century, Cruz has taken on various nicknames including the “Queen of Salsa”, “La Guarachera de Cuba”, as well as “The Queen of Latin Music”. Throughout her career, the Cuban-native spread a message of artistic freedom and gained the love and devotion of fans that spread well beyond the Cuban community.
Here are the top 25 facts you didn’t know about her.
1. There’s a story behind her ¡Azúcar! line.
Celia Cruz explained in an interview how she came up with the term when a waiter asked her what she wanted in her coffee. “I was having dinner at a restaurant in Miami, and when the waiter offered me coffee, he asked me if I took it with or without sugar. I said, ‘Chico, you’re Cuban. How can you even ask that? With sugar!’ And that evening during my show… I told the audience the story and they laughed. And one day, instead of telling the story, I simply walked down the stairs and shouted ‘Azucar!’”
2. Her first name was Úrsula
The Queen of Latin Music was born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso. I mean how much more Latino can you get?
3. She started off singing by learning santería songs.
Despite the fact that she grew up in a very Catholic household, Celia Cruz learned santería songs as a child from neighbors who practiced.
4. Celia Cruz also sang Yoruba.
The West African language was one she mastered with her colleague and santería singer Merceditas Valdés.
5. She also sang in cabarets as a teen.
Cruz’s tía would take her to cabarets to sing and perform. Even when her father protested.
6. She sang on the radio as a contestant for a daily competition.
The competitions often earned her cakes and opportunities to perform in more contests.
7. Cruz’s father didn’t want her to be a singer because it was looked down upon.
Being a singer wasn’t a career that was viewed with a lot of respect at the time. Still, when Cruz went to school to become a literature teacher, a professor of hers told her that as a teacher she could potentially earn a teacher’s monthly salary in just one day.
8. Her life in Venezuela was key for kicking off her career.
Cruz’s first recordings were produced during her time in Venezuela in 1948.
9. There were fourteen kids in her family.
Celia was the oldest in her family of fourteen kids. As the oldest, she often put her brothers and sisters to sleep by singing to them.
10. Fidel Castro blocked her from returning to Cuba.
When the dictator assumed power over her home country she was prohibited from returning.
11. She was blocked again years later.
In 1962, after her mother’s death, Cruz attempted to return for her funeral but the government denied her request.
12. Bill Clinton gave her an award.
Cruz was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994.
13. Her style grabbed the attention of museums.
Cruz’s flamboyant costumes were so famous that the Smithsonian Institution acquired one of her rumba dresses.
14. She has multiple Grammies
The singer won 5 Grammies throughout her lifetime.
15. She also won a few Grammies posthumously.
In 2004, a year after her death, Celia won an award for Best Salsa Album. In 2016 the artist won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her achievements and the dedication that she put into her career.
16. She a member of quite a few hall of fames.
A few among them include International Latin Music Hall of Fame, New Jersey Hall Fame, and Billboards Latin Music Hall of Fame.
17. She took a bit of Cuba with her for her funeral.
Cuban soil which she’d brought with her from her visit to Guantánamo Bay was used in her entombment.
18. She’s on a US postage stamp.
On March 16, 2011, the United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative postage stamp.
19. She also acted.
During her time with Sonora Matancera, Cruz made various cameos in Mexican films such as “Una gallega en La Habana” and “Amorcito Corazón.”
20. She would have rocked Coachella.
This is especially true considering that the Cubana performed to a packed house at New York City’s Central Park SummerStage outdoor performing arts festival.
21. Cruz passed away in New Jersey.
The artist who managed to introduce Afro-Latino music and culture to nearly every corner of the world passed away in Fort Lee New Jersey at the age of 77.
22. After her death she was commemorated by over 200,000 fans.
After she passed away from brain cancer, the singer’s body was taken to Miami’s Freedom Tower. There over 200,000 fans paid final respects to her.
23. Vigils were held across the globe in her honor.
Havana, Cuba, Miami, Florida and Cali, Colombia were just a few of the countries that honored her after her death.
24. She was buried in The Bronx.
Celia Cruz’s husband was buried in the same mausoleum as her in 2007.
25. She never had children.
Celia Cruz had been focused largely on her career as a music artist and never had children of her own.
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