Celia Cruz was born and raised in the working class Santos Suarez neighborhood of Havana, Cuba on October 21, 1924. Brought up in a musical family, she began singing in local contests and later studied music at the Havana Conservatory. In the 1950s Cruz became famous with the Afro-Cuban group La Sonora Matancera. She left Cuba after the revolution and Fidel Castro’s take over, arriving in the United States in 1960. Known as “The Queen of Salsa,” Cruz, with her powerful voice, energetic presence and flamboyant performances brought salsa to a wide audience. Cruz performed with a varied list of musicians from Tito Puente and Ruben Blades to David Byrne. She won the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album in 1989 and was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994.