Smithsonian Celebrates Life and Legacy of Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz

March 31, 2005
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will explore the life of legendary Cuban-born singer Celia Cruz (1925 – 2003) and her impressive career with “¡Azúcar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz,” a new exhibition opening May 18, 2005. Morgan Stanley is the presenting sponsor of the exhibition, with additional support provided by the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. The museum is developing a traveling exhibition that will begin its national tour in 2007. “Celia Cruz embodied the American Dream and the story of her life and career will allow our visitors to explore the themes of American identity and the many contributions Latinos have made to American culture and popular music,” said museum director Brent D. Glass. Over the course of a career that spanned six decades and took her from humble beginnings in Havana, Cuba to a world-renowned artist, Celia Cruz became the undisputed Queen of Latin Music. Combining a piercing and powerful voice with a larger-than-life personality and stage costumes, she was one of the few women to succeed in the male dominated world of Salsa music. Upon her death, she was celebrated around the world as the “Queen of Latin Music” and the “Queen of Salsa.” Salsa is music born in New York City of Cuban and other Afro-Caribbean mixed musical genres. In her personification of Salsa, Cruz came to represent all Latinos. “¡Azúcar!” will highlight important moments in Cruz’ life and career through photographs, personal documents, costumes, rare footage, music videos and music. The show will begin with her childhood and early appearances with the band, “La Sonora Matancera,” in Cuba. Among the dozen featured costumes will be a dress from a 1950s performance in Cuba and the dress she wore at her last public appearance, designed by Narciso Rodríguez. The exhibition title, “¡Azúcar!”—meaning sugar—is taken from her famous rallying cry. To view the exhibition and for updates on the traveling version of “¡Azúcar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz” visit The National Museum of American History traces American heritage through exhibitions of social, cultural, scientific and technological history. Collections are displayed in exhibitions that interpret the American experience from Colonial times to the present. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. For more information, visit or call (202) 633-1000 or (202) 357-1729 (TTY).