This Afro-Latin Legend Won Accolades For Decades

Celia Cruz
Abeni Jones
October 15, 2021

Growing up in Havana, Cuban singer Celia Cruz loved the enchanting rhythms of the Santeria religion, a faith passed down from descendants of West Africans.

Mastering the Yoruba language used among Santeros helped the talented Celia grow a following across the Latin American nightclub circuit – until her star appeal demanded she take her style to the next level.

She wore bright and bold costumes, textured hair and long nails to match every ensemble. Each patterned adornment paid tribute to the African traditions she was raised to embrace. 

But could her talent, personality, and beautiful gapped-tooth smile win over critics in the male-dominated salsa music industry?

As she toured Latin America, she proved she could hold her own! But then, while touring in Mexico, Celia and her band were denied reentry to Cuba during the rise of Fidel Castro.

The detour turned out to be a blessing to her music career as she sought refuge in the United States, rising to international fame – without having to change her style one bit.

Celia’s amazing contributions to Latin music continued to be honored through countless awards, including seven Grammys – and the first Hollywood Walk of Fame star awarded to a Latin-American artist!

She was a star whose music and style the world loved. And it was all built upon her deep reverence for Black traditions and culture.

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