Celia Cruz, or Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, born today in 1925, was a Cuban-American who was one of the most popular salsa artists of the 20th century. Cruz earned twenty-three gold albums and was renowned internationally as the “Queen of Salsa” as well as “La Guarachera de Cuba.” She spent much of her career living in New Jersey, and working in the United States and several Latin American countries. Leila Cobo of Billboard Magazine once said “Cruz is indisputably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music.”
The song, “Guantanamera,” which means “woman from Guantánamo” in Spanish, is perhaps the best known Cuban song and the country’s most noted patriotic song. In 1966, a version by American vocal group The Sandpipers, based on an arrangement by Pete Seeger, became an international hit.