Classics: Celia Cruz – La Negra Tiene Tumbao (Sony Discos)
‘La Negra tiene tumbao’ (the Black girl’s got the groove)… You bet Celia Cruz had! Comin’ up with her first single ever – ‘Ocanasordi / Para Que Sufran Los Pollos’ – back in 1947 on Colombian label Atlantic.
‘La Negra tiene tumbao’. Although the groove had slightly changed when this gem of the likes written by Fernando Osorio and Sergio George saw the light some 54 years after. With Celia Cruz joinin’ forces with Puerto Rican artist, songwriter and producer Miguel Angel Soto Cordova, better known as Mikey Perfecto. The latter, renowned for combining Reggae, Meremgue, Hip-Hop and Rap in his music, pretty much contributing givin’ a street edge to this gem. And in the meantime getting Cruz to brilliantly flirt with Reggaeton vibes.
‘La Negra tiene tumbao’… Don’t ever say we didn’t tell you!
A native of La Havana, Cuba, Celia Cruz has left one of the greatest legacies of all time. Meanwhile scoring 23 gold albums out of a repertoire of 70 units. The latter getting her to win 5 Grammy Awards and 2 Latin grammies.
Cruz started singing at the age of 14 in amateur contests. Eventually studying music extensively at the national Music Conservatory. From piano to singing and theory . She most likely came to fame during the 50’s in her native country. This while performing along with La Sonora Matancera which was more of an evolutive collective than a group. From then, she would record classics such as ‘Burundanga’ and ‘Yembe Laroco’. Not to mention ‘Yerbero Moderno’ which brought her to tour outside Cuba and appear in Mexican films.
When Fidel Castro took the control of this island, she and her husband, Pedro Knight, who was one of the two trumpeters of the band, decided to not come back to their homeland. Eventually becoming American citizens.
Celia Cruz soon after started an association with famous congocerist Tito Puente. This leading her to record 8 albums on Tico Records. She would reach a way higher status in the 70’s, when coming to join the Fania All Stars. The latter being a famous ensemble of Salsa musicians from every orchestra that the Fania label had signed.
She then contributed to the 1976 Leon Gast directed ‘Salsa’ documentary. A film about the Latin culture. Sharing the bill with luminaries such as Willie Colón, Billy Cobham and Dolores del Rio.
Taken from her 2001 album of the likes, the boiling hot percussive ‘La Negra Tiene Tumbao’. A cut the title of which so to say means “the black girl’s got the groove”… “El tumbao” being the basic rhythm played on the bass in music of Afro-Cuban origins.
It would be one of Celia Cruz‘s very last jams as matter of fact. ‘La Guarachera de Cuba’ as her fans also remember her as, sadly dying a brain cancer at her home in Fort Lee, NJ, on Jul. 16, 2003. She was 77…
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