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Celia Cruz Gets Star On Apollo Theater Walk Of Legends

The great Celia Cruz became the first Latina to be honored by New York’s famous Apollo Theater with a spot on its Walk of Legends. The Queen of Salsa died eleven years ago but has posthumously been heralded as one of the great pioneers for Latino women in the music business. Back when most women were considered to be little better than eye candy, Celia was a songwriter, producer, and took her business life into her own hands. Celia played at the Apollo many times for the masses of Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and just people who like good music that would come see her shows. The Walk of Legends has honored several African-American performers in the past including Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Etta James, and Quincy Jones. It shows the history of community that Latino and African-American artists had back in the day when they played their music in a largely segregated world.

The presentation of the award was followed by a show honoring her music. Celia was one of the greatest of all time, there is no doubt. I had the honor of meeting her when I was a little boy. Celia was playing at a hotel in Miami Beach where my family was staying. She must have been in her late fifties or so then but you couldn’t tell with the amount of energy she exuded. Some friends of the family that knew her introduced me too her after the show. She pinched my cheeks and said, “¡Que niño mas lindo! ¡Mira le los ojos! El va a tener muchas novias algun dia.” Well…she can’t always have been right.

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