The late salsa queen Celia Cruz will always be a musical legend to many—Latinos especially. The world still remembers her vibrant voice, her refrain of ¡Azúcar! And her towering wigs. So you could imagine my excitement when I learned a new television series about her life is being made. Endemol Shine North America and Major TV are currently working on an English-language TV series based on the best-selling autobiography, Celia: My Life. Did I mention it’s in English?
Film and TV producer, director and choreographer, Kenny Ortega (known for his work in High School Musical) has signed on as the show’s executive producer and director. Apparently Ortega worked with Celia back in the day as a choreographer in the 1988 movie Salsa.
“I had the extraordinary honor of working with Celia Cruz many years ago as a burgeoning choreographer on a little movie called Salsa,” he was quoted saying in a press release. “While we were working together, Celia and her husband invited me to join them for her concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Celia seated me in a chair on stage and I was there, in the light, watching La Reina de la Salsa, hypnotizing the audience with her voice and performance magic. Over the years, my appreciation of her gift to music has grown and deepened. Celia has been an inspiration for so many and I am honored to participate in this tribute of the incomparable Celia Cruz.”
Celia has remained a musical icon for a number of reasons. Not only was her music vibrant and captivating but her story alone was inspiring. A black Cuban woman from humble upbringings—Celia managed to transcend race and gender in a time when Afro-Latinxs and women were not really being seen. She came from a modest home in Cuba, spent years exiled in Mexico, and eventually hit stardom in the states—a major milestone for an Afro-Latina back then.
“Celia Cruz was a black woman, of limited means, who painfully abandoned her small island and triumphantly conquered the world with the power of her voice. Her story is a testament of perseverance, hope and inspiration that deserves to be told,” Omer Pardillo Cid, Executor of the Celia Cruz Estate and her former manager said in an official press release statement.
This is not the first time a show is being made about the Cuban singer though. There was a Spanish-language television series called Celia that aired on Telemundo in 2015. Celia’s story is even making its way to the theater with a new musical Celia: The Musical premiering in August at the Starlite Festival in Marbella, Spain.
But what’s exciting about this new show is the fact that English viewers will be able to tune in. Celia’s story and journey isn’t just an inspiration to the Latinx community but to everyone. Here’s a look at why the Cuban singer will always be the queen of salsa and a musical icon for life.
She overcame tremendous obstacles.
Not only did Celia grow up with very limited means but she also launched her musical career during the Cuban Revolution. Her career kicked off after she migrated to the U.S. at a time when Latin music was still not being recognized in the states.