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Arts & Culture

Angélique Kidjo Explains Celia Cruz's Rhythmic Singing Style

The eight women we chose to honor in this season of Turning the Tables were skilled singers, writers, instrumental innovators and musical pioneers. But often in the stories of these women's lives and legacies, their musical skills are obscured by a focus on persona or biography. We also want to highlight their work as musicians and the fundamental musical contributions they made to American popular music.


In the course of her career, Celia Cruz recorded over 70 albums and received a dozen Grammy nominations. Her powerful voice and charisma made her one of the most popular Latin musicians of the 20th century, earning her the title the "Queen of Salsa." She always carried her African roots into her music, says singer Angélique Kidjo — and that was especially evident in the uniquely rhythmic way she sang. Kidjo recently released an album of Cruz's music called Celia, so we asked her to explain what Cruz's music means to her and to demonstrate her singing style.

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