July 17th, 2003

Me

(no subject)

¡Azúcar!

Despedidos a la Réina de la Salsa

I was going to blog about something else today, but I learned that Celia Cruz passed away.

Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa, the Ella Fitzgerald of Latin music, the single most influential Afro-Cuban musician of the last century.

I've enjoyed her recordings for years.  Nobody can make me want to get up and dance like Celia.  Last year I finally had the fortune to see Celia in person, as Keya bought me a ticket to see Celia and Gilberto Santa Rosa at Boston Symphony Hall for my birthday.  She looked as vibrant as ever.  Who knew it would be one of her last public performances?

Two thoughts come to mind when I think of Celia.  One is azúcar, her trademark phrase, the Spanish word for sugar, which she would deliciously interject here and there to get her band to sweeten things up.

The other is her husband, Pedro Knight, a former trumpeter with her original band, Sonera Matancera.  Knight and Celia were the definition of the devoted couple.  Since their marriage in 1962, he was on the stage for every single one of Celia's concerts -- every single one!  He would join Celia on stage, and stand in the back with his snow white hair contrasting Celia's rainbow of colors.  Sometimes he'd stand with his arms folded; sometimes he'd play a percussion instrument; sometimes he'd join Celia in a dance or a song.  My prayers are with Pedro Knight right now.

The music world has lost a legend today.  But heaven is that much sweeter for all the azúcar it just received.