Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the passing of Celia Cruz. “La Reina” as she is often called, died ten years ago July 16, 2003. She is missed, remembered and celebrated by millions of people around the world as the greatest and most popular Cuban singer of all time. Over the past weekend there were many tributes around the country; I enjoyed Los Angeles’ great tropical latin radio show on KXLU, the long running Alma del Barrio, that continuously featured her immortal songs all weekend long.
I’m a big fan too. So was Marlon Brando. Using my binoculars, I once saw him stand up at the Hollywood Bowl during a standing ovation for her; he was in a box and stood up with the director’s chair stuck to his large backside–which he didn’t bother to remove.
I enjoyed writing the liner notes for a great new deluxe box set that the Sony Latin label is putting out on July 30th: Celia Cruz–The Absolute Collection. Devotees, aficionados, and fans will want to get this new deluxe set. It covers her recorded output on from the early years with La Sonora Mantancera on the Seeco and Panart labels, through her Tico and Fania sides with Tito Puente and the Fania All Stars, as well as her records with Fania, Vaya and Sony. It’s a timeline covering her personal and professional life, and it the most complete collection of Celia’s music ever released.
The deluxe set contains 60 pages of text and features over 70 unpublished and never-before-seen photographs and memorabilia obtained with the express approval of Celia’s estate. All songs have been meticulously remastered for the best quality audio. Finally, there are encomiums and reminiscences from Quincy Jones, David Byrne, Andy Garcia, Beyonce, Rita Marley, Whoopi Goldberg, Gloria Estefan and other luminaries, all praising Celia’s greatness.
The collection was put together with love, care and great packaging, with all the resources that a major label can bring to the table.
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