Human Flower Project
Friday, July 23, 2010
‘Ritmo, Tambo’ y Flores’
Transported to a Caribbean garden by horns, flowers, drums, and a voice—we remember Celia Cruz.
Queen of Salsa
Photo: via David Byrne
Your voice, Celia Cruz. What an instrument, what a trumpet flower!
The late Cuban singer did more to spread the radiance of Latin music than anyone we know of—or can imagine. The one and only time we heard her live was at “La Noche Latina” preceding the New Orleans Jazzfest (1988?). In the ballroom of a riverboat anchored in the Mississippi, Willie Colon and his band opened, then wizard of percussion Tito Puente took the stage for several numbers, and finally Celia was ushered in, dressed in shiny aquamarine.
The crowd sighed in reverence and screamed with elation before “The Queen of Salsa,” shouting their requests from the moment she picked up the microphone. Flashing the gap in her immense Martha Rae smile, she bowed and, one by one, sang every number they asked for. Celia wasn’t just a performer, she was a provider!