Today’s Google logo remembers salsa singer Celia Cruz on what would have been the artist’s 88th birthday.
Cruz began her career singing lead vocals for the famous Cuban orchestra Sonora Matancera in 1950. Born in Havanna, Cuba, Cruz and her husband Pedro Knight became a citizen of the United States in 1959 after Castro took control of Cuba.
Cruz recorded eight albums for Tico Records, before recording the more famous record Celia y Johnny with Johnny Pacheco in 1974 for Vaya Records label. While with Vaya, Cruz and pianist Larry Harlow performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. After Cruz’s album with Pacheco, she would join the salsa musician group Fania All-Stars.
Beyond her music career, Cruz also made cameos in a number of Mexican films, including Salon Mexico in 1950 and Una Gallega en La Habana in 1952 and was part of the documentary Salsa filmed in 1976 and a 1988 film with the same name. In 1970, Eastern Air Lines had Cruz perform for a commercial the company aired in Puerto Rico. Cruz would win a role in the 1992 film The Mambo Kings starring Armande Assante and Antonio Banderas.
The singer would finally win a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Tropical Latin Performance, and was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1994.
Cruz died of brain cancer in her New Jersey home on July 16, 2003 at the age of 77.