SalsaPower, the largest Salsa website on the Internet

 

Celia Cruz
1925 - 2003
 

Celia Cruz

By/Por: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Translation by/Traducción por: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

English

Español

She really was a Queen

It was the biggest funeral I've ever seen, but what I will never forget was the carriage passing, pulled by two enormous white horses, and her coffin inside the carriage with her beloved Cuban flag draped over it, and with hundreds of pigeons flying all around her. The sky darkened and there was lightning and thunder, making all those who were there feel something that I can't describe with words. It was as if Changó was saying goodbye to his daughter.

As the coffin was carried into the Church, it was as if the magic that she always had made the sun come out. When the mass was over and her coffin was carried outside again, it began to rain once more. Heaven was crying because she had died, along with thousands of people around the world. For me she is not dead nor will she ever be.

We arrived at the cemetery in the rain to say our final "hasta luego", because one day we will see each other again, and what a  rumba that is going to be!

At the end of the ceremony I walked up to the coffin and hugged her and gave her a kiss and drowning in my tears I said, "Until later, godmother. Until later Celia. Until later, my queen. I'll never forget you." And to close with a flourish, the sun came back out just to remind us that she really was a queen.

My memories of her go way back to my childhood in the neighborhood of Lawton, in Havana, where I was born just three blocks from her house. She and my father had worked together for years in a radio broadcasting network where she won the singing competition that launched her career. As she herself said during the concerts where I had the pleasure to accompany her and be her artistic director, "I've known this child since he was in his mother's belly, because I knew his parents since before they were married".

I remember the first time I heard her singing when I was only three or four years old.  My mother tells me that I became so emotional that I peed all over her.

I also recall growing up nearby her for several years and clearly remember that every day they all got together at the corner store before leaving for her radio show on Radio Progreso in Havana. My father was an active part of these daily gatherings and I grew up around these great artists and friends.

Years later, in 1966, when we were already in the United States, I remember when we saw her again, and the emotions and tears when she saw my father again. She always called him "My father".

Years later we saw each other again, this time on the stages around the world and she always greeted me with great joy. "Hello Alfredito, hello my son, how are you?" or "Hello my godchild".

Although I had the honor of accompanying her on hundreds of occasions, I never stopped feeling my hair stand on end each time I saw her coming out on stage. When she would shout, "Azúcar!" what I felt was something so huge that few times in my life have I felt that way.

I don't know if you call it Ache or simply magic, but what Celia Cruz emanated was something that no one else has ever had in history.

I also remember as if it was yesterday that two years ago, while we were in a dressing room and ready for a show, she said, "I know that you will return to the United States and I am going to ring the bell for my saints to make it happen". That gave me a security so great that from then on I never doubted that I would soon return home.

I felt very sad when I heard about her illness and there wasn't a single day that went by without me asking my saints to watch over her, as well as her husband Pedro and the health of both.

Months later she called me to ask me to be in a program in her honor to raise funds for her organization and I ran to help out, feeling blessed to be by her side again. That same month she filled me with pride when she asked me to participate in what would be her last album. I felt honored, blessed and privileged to share the experience with her.

The day I heard the news of her death I was in my car, going to a concert and cried as I have done only a few times in my life. I arrived on stage, and all I could say was, "Celia, I love you and I dedicate this and all my concerts to you". The music started and my sadness vanished, and I felt peace and happiness with life and happy to be able to give joy to others through my art.

Celia Cruz taught me how to be professional, to respect the public and know that the gift of music is the greatest gift from God.

Until later, my Queen.

July 27, 2003, New York.

Era de Verdad una Reina

Fué el entierro mas grande jamás visto, pero lo que nunca olvidaré fue que al pasar la carroza tirada por dos enormes caballos blancos y adentro su ataúd, con su amada bandera cubana encima y con cientos de palomas que volaban a su alrededor, el cielo oscureció y relámpagos y truenos se escucharon, dando a todos los que allí nos encontrábamos, una sensación que no puedo describir con palabras. Era como si Changó le estuviera dando la despedida a su hija.

Al entrar el féretro a la iglesia, por el arte de esa magia que ella siempre tuvo, salió el sol y cuando terminó la misa y la llevaron afuera, de nuevo, volvió a llover. El cielo lloraba por su muerte, al igual que miles de personas alrededor del mundo, aunque para mí no ha muerto ni jamás lo hará.

Llegamos al cementerio bajo la lluvia para darle el último hasta luego, porque algún dia nos volveremos a ver todos y ¡qué rumba se va a armar!

Al final de la ceremonia pasé delante de su ataud y lo abrazé y le dí un beso y ahogado por el llanto le dije, “Hasta luego madrina. Hasta luego Celia. Hasta luego Reina. Jamás te olvidaré." Y para cerrar con broche de oro el sol volvió a salir para recordarnos que era de verdad una Reina.

Mis recuerdos de ella van muy atrás, a mi niñez en el barrio de Lawton, en La Habana, en donde nací a solo tres cuadras de su casa. Mi padre y ella habían trabajado juntos por años en una cadena radial donde ella ganó el concurso de canto que lanzara su carrera artística. Como ella misma lo decía en los conciertos en los que tuve el placer de acompañarla y ser su director artístico: “A este niño lo conozco dede que estaba en la barriga de su madre, pues conocía sus padres desde antes que se casaran.”

Yo recuerdo la primera vez que la oí cantar cuando solo tenía tres o cuatro años y mi madre me cuenta que de la emoción me le oriné encima.

Después recuerdo crecer a su lado por varios años y recuerdo claramente que todos los días se reunían en la tienda de la esquina antes de salir para su programa de radio en Radio Progreso en La Habana. Mi padre era parte activa de esas tertulias diarias y yo crecía alrededor de estos grandes artistas y amigos.

Años después en 1966, cuando ya nos encontrábamos en Estados Unidos, recuerdo el reencuentro con nosotros y la emoción y las lágrimas de ella al volver a ver a mi padre. Ella también siempre lo llamó "Mi padre".

Años mas tarde nos volvimos a encontrar, esta vez en los escenarios de todo el mundo y siempre me recibía con mucha alegría. "Hola Alfredito mi hijito, como estás?" o "Hola mi ahijado".

Aunque tuve el honor de acompañarla en cientos de ocaciones, jamás dejé de sentir que todos los pelos de mi cuerpo se paraban cada vez que la ví salir a un escenario y cuando gritaba "¡Azúcar!" lo que sentía era algo tan grande que pocas veces lo he sentido en mi vida.

No sé si llamarlo Aché o simplemente Magia, pero lo que Celia Cruz emanaba era algo que nadie ha tenido en la historia.

También recuerdo como si fuera hoy que hace como dos años, mientras estábamos en un camerino listos para el show, ella me dijo: "Yo sé que volverás a Estados Unidos y yo le voy a tocar la campana a mis santos para que así sea". Eso me dió una seguridad tan grande que de ahí en adelante no dudé que muy pronto regresaría a casa.

Me sentí muy triste cuando me enteré de su enfermedad y no hubo un solo día sin que le pidiera a mis santos por ella, por Pedro y por la salud de ambos.

Meses después me llamó para pedirme que estuviera en un programa en honor de ella y para recaudar fondos para su organización y yo corrí a su lado dichoso de poder estar a su lado de nuevo. El mismo mes me llenó aún mas pidiéndome que participara en el que sería su último disco. Así me dijo y yo, de nuevo, me sentí honrado, dichoso y privilegiado de participar a su lado.

El día que dieron la noticia de su muerte me encontraba en mi carro yendo para un concierto y lloré como pocas veces lo he hecho. Llegué al escenario y solo pude decir: Celia, te amo y te dedico este y todos mis conciertos. Empezó la música y mi trizteza se fué esfumando y sentí paz y sentí la alegría de vivir y de dar a otros alegría a traves de mi arte.

Celia Cruz me enseñó a ser profesional, a respetar el público y saber que el don de la música es el mayor regalo de Dios.

Hasta luego Reina.

Julio 27, 2003, New York.

 

 

Esta página fue actualizada / this page was updated on 07-Jun-2013
English:  All editorials and letters to the editor on SalsaPower.com are personal opinions of those people who write them and do not necessarily reflect the position of SalsaPower.com, Inc. If you wish to comment on this article, please send your letter to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Español:  Todo los editoriales y cartas al editor en SalsaPower.com son opiniones personales de aquellos que los escriben y no reflejan necesariamente la posición de SalsaPower.  Si deseas comentar sobre este artículo, envía tu carta a:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.