Celia Cruz, Afro-Cuban Star!

I’ve always liked Cuban, Mexican and Latin American music. There’s something about the beat and melody that I connect to.

One night, years ago, in Grant Park in Chicago, I heard Celia Cruz sing. It was Labor Day Weekend and the Latin Music Festival went from Sunday, September 5, through Labor Day on Monday, September 6, 1993.

Celia sang on Monday night with the very popular Afro-Cuban band, La Sonora Mantancera. The night was hot and there was a warm breeze coming in from Lake Michigan.

Celia was 68 by that time and her looks had started to fade. But once she began to sing, time stood still. It was magical for me to hear her voice floating out over the crowd.

A few months ago I started watching the telenovela “Celia” on Netflix. It was produced in 2015 by Fox Telecolumbia for RNC Television and Telemundo. The actors spoke in Spanish. There were English subtitles so it was easy to follow.

My main reason for watching the series was to hear Celia sing. I was thrilled at all the times the director dubbed in recordings of the real Celia’s voice when the actress who played Celia began to sing. It was wonderful. And, even better, in almost every episode “Celia” sang my favorite pieces: “Como Fue”, “La Negra Tiene Tumbao”, “Guantanamera” and many more of her greatest hits.

There was a downside to this series. “Celia” is a telenovela after all. In some episodes, there were tears and more tears. Sometimes there were hysterics. And there was Celia’s sister, Noris. She was so evil… I don’t think she had a kind bone in her body. Neither did Simon, her father, who appeared to be as flawed a character as you could find. And, to make things more crazy, there was Lola and all her problems as well as Mario and Raquel.

To top it off, when I went on Wikipedia to check things out, I found that many of these characters didn’t exist in real life. Or, if they did, were actually very nice people. But that didn’t stop the writers from writing Celia’s story their way.

So, if you like Afro-Cuban music and a tear-jerker of a story, “Celia” is the series for you–all 80 episodes!!!


  1. Your research separated the fiction from the history. I’m sure the friends and family members just love being portray as a fictional villians. Thanks for bringing all to life.

    • Barbara on September 22, 2017 at 11:35 pm
    • Reply

    Claire, I also enjoy the rhythm of the Cuban, Mexican, Latin American music. If you enjoyed Celia Cruz, you would have enjoyed the movie, “Buena Vista Social Club.” The club was a members’ club in Havana, Cuba, that closed in the 1940s. It is also the name of a band in the 1990s , a 1997 album, and a 1999 film. The movie followed many of the original musicians up to their final days of life. Watching the older Cuban singers come to life when they appeared on stage was beautiful.

    • Kook-Wha Koh on September 21, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • Reply

    It is an interesting story.
    I enjoyed to read it.

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