Celia Cruz

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Celia Cruz was undoubtedly the Queen of Salsa, possessing a grand, distinct voice that seemed to wrest every last emotion from the lyrics. She had a voice that compelled a mass section of the population for more than four decades, and no musical detour could deter her undyingly devout subjects. Her first recordings during her time in Cuba in the '50s still stand as some of the best salsa recordings available: anyone in doubt should just go directly to her material with Sonora Matancera. Her relocation to the United States in the '60s didn't dilute her passion: she instead became a part of the booming Latin music industry, recording with Tito Puente and moving on to Fania Records in the '70s. Her devotion to salsa and to the people of Latin America was rarely anything less than heroic up until her passing in 2003.