ˇAzúcar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz Celia Cruz Selector  
Her Life
Her Music
Her Dressing Room
I Will Survive

Celia Cruz reinvented herself at every opportunity, always gaining new and younger fans. She understood the power of music beyond the traditional Cuban rhythms she started performing in the 1940s. By the end of the 1990s, she was doing hip-hop, and one of her greatest hits, “La negra tiene tumbao,” became an anthem to new generations. She also recorded a rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s great disco hit “I Will Survive.”

The Tributes

Celia Cruz was honored many times during her long career. She earned five Grammy Awards, many Gold Records, and countless other honors and Lifetime Achievement Awards. She received three honorary doctorates, from Yale University in 1989, Florida International University in 1992, and the University of Miami in 1999. She was a White House guest of five presidents.

Cruz was an extremely generous person. In 2002 she established the Celia Cruz Foundation, dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and to providing scholarships for young Latino music students.


Celia Cruz died on July 16, 2003, after battling brain cancer for several months. News of her passing appeared on the front pages of major newspapers and in magazines, as well as on the major Hispanic and American TV networks. Her wish was to have two funerals, in Miami and in New York. In both cities, it was one of the largest funerals ever, attended by dignitaries, musicians, actors, politicians, and, above all, her beloved public. People from all backgrounds and walks of life came to honor the Queen one last time—more than 250,000 mourners through the Freedom Tower in Miami and over 150,000 through the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in New York.

National Museum of American History
Espańol Go to Flash Version Visit Copyright Privacy Policy Press Events Resources Tell a Friend Credits