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Smithsonian to Open Celia Cruz Exhibit

Celia Cruz is the focus of an upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Titled “Azucar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz,” the exhibit will open on May 18 and highlight important moments in the Cuban-born singer’s life.

“Azucar!” will feature photographs, personal documents, costumes, rare film footage, music videos and music. The exhibit opens with Cruz’s childhood and early appearances with the band La Sonora Matancera in Cuba and then showcases many of the costumes Cruz wore throughout her career. The dresses on display include an orange polyester bata Cubana, or Cuban rhumba dress; a red and white polka-dot bata de cola, a traditional flamenco dress which Cruz bought in Seville; and the Cuban Flag Dress, which Cruz wore during the Cuban Independence Day celebration in Miami in 2001. A headpiece, shoes, microphone, marriage license and champagne flutes are some of the other items on display.

Also featured in the exhibit are six videos created by Joe Cardona, a film director and producer who won a Hispanic Heritage Award in 2000. The videos feature archival footage from Cruz’s early career in Cuba, live performances and MTV-style music videos. In addition, there is also a 12-minute documentary of Cruz, which contains original footage and interviews with musicians, family members, producers, music critics and friends.

Cruz, who died in 2003 at age 77, was known as the Queen of Latin Music and the Queen of Salsa for her powerful voice, vivid stage costumes and colorful personality, on and off-stage. The exhibit, which takes its name from Cruz’s rallying cry of “azucar,” will begin a national traveling tour in 2001. More information is available at the Smithsonian website americanhistory.si.edu/celiacruz.

Originally Published