"Celia Cruz" ("''Úrsula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso"'') (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003) was a Cuban salsa singer who spent most of her career living in New Jersey, and working in the United States and several Latin American countries. Cruz was one of the most successful Cuban performers of the 20th century, with twenty-three gold albums to her name and has earned the moniker of the "La guarachera de cuba". Leila Cobo of ''Billboard Magazine'' once said "Cruz is indisputably the best-known and most influential female figure in the history of Afro-Cuban music." (1)
Celia Cruz was born "Úrsula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso" in the ''Santos Suarez'' neighborhood of Havana. Her parents were Catalina Alfonso ("Ollita") and Simón Cruz. When she was a child, she earned her first pair of shoes by singing to a couple of tourists.
As a teenager, her aunt took her and her cousin to cabarets to sing, but her father encouraged her to keep attending school, in hopes that she would become a Spanish language teacher (her improved diction set her aside from many other singers). But a teacher told her that, as an entertainer, Cruz could make in one day what most teach...