In celebration of the 88th birthday of the late Cuban-American salsa performer, Celia Cruz, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) changed its homepage logo to a stylized Google “doodle” featuring Cruz.
Internationally, Cruz was known as the “Queen of Salsa” and “La Guarachera de Cuba.”
Throughout her career in the 20th century, she recorded 23 gold albums, many in collaboration with famous musicians such as Tito Puente and the Fania All-Stars.
Cruz was born on Oct. 21, 1925, in Havana, Cuba. After dropping out of the National Teachers’ College in Cuba, she enrolled at the Havana National Conservatory of Music, where she started on her path toward a full-time singing career. Her first recordings were completed in 1948.
Throughout the 1950s, Cruz helped propel the seasoned Cuban orchestra Sonora Mantancera, after replacing the lead singer, who left in 1950.
After Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba in 1959, Cruz along with her husband Pedro Knight, a trumpeter for Sonora Matancera, decided not to return to Cuba, choosing to defect to the United States instead.
Cruz was somewhat unknown in the United States, until the late 1960s, when she joined the Tito Puente Orchestra, exposing herself to a much wider audience, eventually performing at renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall.
Cruz was awarded with a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Tropical Latin Performance, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Cruz passed away on July 16, 2003, in her Fort Lee, N.J., home at the age of 77, after succumbing to brain cancer.
Take a look at Google’s tribute to Celia Cruz on its homepage.