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Biography

  • Born

    16 March 1929

  • Born In

    Jovellanos, Matanzas, Cuba

  • Died

    4 February 2015 (aged 85)

Celina González (1928 - 2015) was a Cuban singer and songwriter of musica campesina, traditional music of the Cuban countryside. She is best known for writing Santa Bárbara, one of Celia Cruz's signature songs.

Known as the Cuban Queen of Country Music, Celina Gonzalez was born in Jovellanos, Matanzas, Cuba on 16 March 1929. She met Reutilio Dominguez at the age of sixteen in Santiago de Cuba. He became her singing partner and husband resulting in a collaboration that lasted until Reutilio's death in Guantanamo in 1971. In 1948 they began working with the famous Nico Saquito and gained increasing popularity on radio, film and television. They performed in New York with two of the greatest Cuban artists of all time: Beny Moré and Barbarito Diez. In 1964 the duo stopped performing together and Celina continued as a soloist singing traditional music.

The musical form she prefers is the decima. Most of her songs are written in this style and although, in the past the rhythms in her music were more guaguanco than pure Afro, they are now mostly guaracha. She sings about 'guajiros' and 'puntos' (country people) because she believes that these sectors of society are not fully appreciated. In 1980 she won Egrem's coveted Disco de Plata award for the record entitled Celina. This was the beginning of many more awards to come in the 80's. Santa Bárbara later became one of her biggest hits and is featured on the album of the same name on Egrem available via Tumi Music.

In 1984 she was awarded the Vanguardia Nacional for her artistic work and won a trip to the Soviet Union and Bulgaria with her son. In 1984 she won the award for Best Singer at the 27th International Music Festival in Cali, Colombia and after a successful tour in Europe in 1988 she recorded a session for the BBC. Her biggest award came just two years ago when she received the Golden Picasso medal by UNESCO. Then, the same year, together with her son, Reutilio, she released the highly acclaimed La Rica Cosecha on Tumi Music and performed a sell out concert at the Barbican Hall in London.

Yo soy el Punto Cubano, from the album La Rica Cosecha was a hit in many countries in Europe and also in Japan as well as being a firm favourite with the WMCE (World Music Charts Europe). Her new album Desde La Habana Te Traigo offers an exciting new canvas for her to create her own masterpiece as Orquesta América, the legendary charanga band, embrace her voice with impressive results.

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