Inside: A collection of Celia Cruz quotes, along resources for learning about Celiz Cruz for kids and students.
Celia Cruz was one of the most iconic singers and performers of salsa music, known as “la Reina de la Salsa” (the Queen of Salsa). She released 75 albums over her lifetime, 23 of which went gold.
Celia Cruz was famous for both her incredible voice and dynamic performances that lit up the stage. Celia Cruz is famous for saying “¡Azucar!” in her performances, which means sugar.
If you are here just looking for Celia Cruz quotes, click here to jump to that section!
This post covers the life of Celia Cruz for kids or students. I’ve found some great resources to make her music and story come alive for anyone who wants to learn more!
Here’s an index of what’s included in the post. You can click on any link to jump straight to that section!
- Celia Cruz Biography
- Links and Printables to Learn More
- Books About Celia Cruz for kids
- YouTube Videos
- Quotes from Celia Cruz
celia cruz Biography
Fast Facts About Celia Cruz
Birth: October 21, 1925
Death: July 16, 2003
Family: Spouse: Pedro Knight
Education: Havana National Conservatory of Music
Career Highlights: Lead singer of La Sonora Matancera, Tito Puente Orchestra
Legacy: Known as “The Queen of Salsa,” 75 lifetime albums 23 of which went gold.
Celia Cruz was born in Havana, Cuba, on October 21, 1925. Cruz’s was talented from a young age. She planned to become a teacher, but dropped out of teaching college to study at Havana’s National Conservatory of Music.
In 1950, she became the lead singer of the immensely popular band La Sonora Matancera, where her voice began to appear on the radio and TV, and the Tropicana Nightclub in Havana. She married the trumpet player, Pedro Knight.
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Castro took over Cuba. At the time, Cruz and the band were in Mexico. She and her husband moved to the U.S. to become citizens instead of returning to Cuba. She was banned from Cuba in retribution.
In the 1960’s, Cruz joined the Tito Puente Orchestra. Together, they group rose in fame and broke in the mainstream music scene with their Afro-Cuban sound. By the 1970’s, Cruz was well-known in New York for her salsa music, vibrant performances, and elaborate costumes.
She also was part of several films and the BBC made a documentary about there (My Name is Celia Cruz). There is also an entire telenovela based on her life, named Celia.
Celia Cruz died in 2003, at 77 years old.
- 23 Gold Records
- National Medal of Arts
- 3 Grammy Awards
- 4 Latin Grammys
Interesting Facts about Celia Cruz for Kids:
Celia Cruz was one of 14 children in her family. Her real name when she was born was Úrsula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso.
In an interview, Cruz once said, “My mother, Catalina, told me that at 9 or 10 months of age I’d wake up in the middle of the night, 2 or 3 in the morning, singing ‘esta muchachita va a trabajar de noche.’ Pues la viejita no se equivocó. (This little girl is is going to work nights! Well, my little mom wasn’t wrong).“
Later, many younger siblings, she would often sing them to sleep.
Printables and links to learn more
- Younger students can color this free printable coloring page I made.
- Here is an awesome blog post from Sra. Chase about using the song “Ríe y llora” in the first week of school for older students (though you could use it later too!).
- Learn about the country of Cuba.
- Worksheet for kids in English about Celia Cruz.
- For a craft, you can make maracas with your students and learn a little about the rhythms in salsa music. The video below from 123 Andrés is a great resource for connecting young kids to salsa music! If you don’t have time for a craft, clapping or using household items (as shown in the video) works as well.
You also might be interested in my sets of biography slides and project templates for learning about Latinx and Spanish-Speaking leaders, plus a free guessing game.
Books FOR kids to adults
These links are affiliate links.
Videos About CElia Cruz
A 4-minute quick biography in English.
An illustrated into her life in Spanish. The video is just under 7 minutes, but if you are working with Spanish learners you will definitely need to slow down the speed to make it comprehensible.
If you want to introduce your students to some salsa dancing, this is a great intro video and learning about Celia Cruz is a great excuse for dancing!
Here’s a 5min. tour of Cuba to give some more context to Cuba.
Top Celia Cruz Quotes
Here are some quotes to share with your students that show Cruz’s passion for music and performing! She loved her fans just as much as they adored her.
1. “My life is singing. I don’t plan on retiring. I plan to die on a stage. I can have a headache but when it’s time to sing and I step on that stage there is no more headache.”
– Celiz Cruz
2. “Singing is my life. It has always been my life. It will always be my life.”
– Celiz Cruz
3. “You would give up your career if you lost your voice for good, or if the impresarios stopped calling, or the audiences stopped coming. But as long as those things are there, I don’t plan to stop. There is nothing that makes me feel better than to be with my public.”
– Celiz Cruz
4. “When opportunity presents itself grab it. Hold on tight and don’t let go.”
– Celia Cruz
I hope these ideas and resources were helpful to you! If you have more ideas for Celia Cruz for kids lesson plans, let me know in the comments below!