Here's a local New Jersey article about the Cuban-born 'Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz.
For more than 40 years, Celia Cruz quartered in Fort Lee. In late 2024, her image will adorn a quarter.
Officials at the United States Mint this month named the late Cruz one of five honorees for the American Women Quarters Program's 2024 series. Launched in 2022, the program is in its second year of a four-year run designed to create awareness for trailblazers in women's history, such as Cruz.
All of the women being honored have lived remarkable and multi-faceted lives, and have made a significant impact on our nation in their own unique way, said Ventris C. Gibson, the director of the U.S. Mint.
The women pioneered change during their lifetimes, not yielding to the status quo imparted during their lives.
Born Oct. 21, 1925, in the Santos Suárez neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, Cruz would become the 20th century's
Queen of Salsa." Cruz was a standout singer in her youth but had plans to become a teacher. It was only after she enrolled in the Normal School for Teachers in Havana that her talent became too much to ignore.
Cruz transferred to Havana's National Conservatory of Music and began to study her craft. She blitzed through amateur singing contests, toured Mexico and Venezuela and found modest success through performances on Cuban radio. In 1950, Cruz got her big break. She was asked to join Sonora Matancera, a historic and popular Cuban orchestra. Over the next 15 years, she would record 188 songs with the group and earn her first of 23 gold albums.
She would also defect from Cuba with the group in 1960 while touring in Mexico amid the Cuban Revolution.Boasting a powerful voice, Cruz was often equally appealing to the eyes. A cultural icon, she spanned music, film and fashion. One of her trademark colorful dresses, a long sequined gown, has been on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
After leaving Cuba and subsequently being banned from reentry by Fidel Castro, Cruz and her partner, Pedro Knight, moved to Fort Lee. She spent the rest of her 42 years in the community, just a river crossing from New York City's Latin music scene.
To read the complete article, see:
Celia Cruz quarter will honor New Jersey's 'Queen of Salsa'
Wayne Homren, Editor
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