Celia Cruz (born in Havana, Cuba as Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso on October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003) was a Cuban salsa singer, and was one of the most successful salsa performers of the 20th century, with twenty-three gold albums to her name. She was renowned internationally as the "Queen of Salsa" as well as "La Guarachera de Cuba", and has been called "the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music".
Cruz's first major breakthrough came in 1950 after La Sonora Matancera's then lead singer left the group and she was called to fill in. Cruz was hired permanently by the orchestra, but she wasn't well accepted by the public at first. However, the orchestra stood by their decision, and soon Cruz became famous throughout Cuba. During the 15 years she was a member, the band traveled all over Latin America, becoming known as "Café Con Leche" (coffee with milk).
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