Forever CELIA, the largest Cruz exhibit to date -curated by Omer Pardillo- will feature some of the 700 pieces she kept at her New Jersey home. Among the most notable items in the collection are costumes Cruz wore at Havana’s famous Tropicana Night Club in the 1950s. Also on display her Cuban passport with which she went into exile, via Mexico, on July 15, 1960; the first contract signed that same year with the Hollywood Paladium, of New York, for the amount of $2,000 per night; books and unpublished photos.
Cruz remained relatively unknown in the United States beyond the Cuban exile community initially, but when she joined the Tito Puente Orchestra in the mid–1960s, she gained exposure to a wide audience. Puente had a large following across Latin America, and as the new face of the band, Cruz became a dynamic focus for the group, reaching a new fan base. On stage, Cruz enthralled audiences with her flamboyant attire and crowd engagement—traits that bolstered her 40-year singing career. Cruz is remembered as one of the 20th century’s most beloved and popular Latin musicians. Considered the “Queen of Salsa,” she was one of the most popular Cuban musicians of the 20th century with 23 certified gold albums.
American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora
1200 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145