Florida International University has been gifted the Celia Cruz Music Score Collection, a cultural treasure that includes 230 long- and short-form musical scores belonging to the legendary Cuban singer. The Celia Cruz Foundation donated the collection to the university.
Known as the “Queen of Salsa,” Cruz had a powerful voice, energetic stage presence and a unique style that won her fans from different nations and across generations. One of the few women to succeed in the male-dominated world of salsa music, she was a dazzling performer of many genres of Afro-Caribbean music for over five decades and recorded more than 50 albums. She received many honors during her career, including three Grammy Awards, four Latin Grammy Awards, the President’s National Medal of Arts and countless lifetime achievement awards.
“Celia’s most fervent wish was to ensure her legacy lives on for generations,” said Omer Pardillo Cid, executor of the Celia Cruz Estate. “Donating her original musical scores will provide future students with a unique way to study her repertoire - the way she would have done it.”
The Cruz collection will become part of and enhance the work of several units at the university:
- The FIU School of Music will use the collection for educational purposes in classrooms and curricula focused on the analysis and study of music composition, jazz ensemble, instrumental music, vocal performance and music business courses.
- It will be part of the Díaz Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection at the FIU Libraries, the most extensive publicly available collection of Cuban music in the United States.
- FIU CasaCuba, the only cultural center of its kind focused on Cuban culture and study of Cuban affairs, will be the home for interactive exhibitions, scholarly presentations and performances of the collection.
“The FIU Libraries are grateful for the donation of the Celia Cruz Music Score Collection, an extraordinary resource for our students, the FIU community and beyond,” said Anne Prestamo, dean of the FIU Libraries.
Initial findings about the collection, which was recently received by FIU, include:
- Notes from Cruz in the margins of the scores written for her
- A handwritten transcription signed by Cruz
- A piece handwritten by Bebo Valdés, Cuban pianist, composer and bandleader
- Arrangements by other renowned artists like Tito Puente, Sonny Bravo, Charlie Palmieri, and Joe Loco
“Our students engage with a wide spectrum of music, and the Celia Cruz collection will be a valuable opportunity for them to learn about the ‘Queen of Salsa’ and her contributions to the Afro-Cuban music styles in the 20th century through rare source materials,” said Karen S. Fuller Veloz, director of the School of Music.
The gift benefits the Next Horizon campaign, which advances student success and research excellence at FIU.
“Celia Cruz stands in the pantheon of renowned performers who brought Cuban music to the entire world,” said María Carla Chicuén, executive director of CasaCuba. “As a center dedicated to preserving Cuban culture, we are honored and thankful that FIU was chosen as a home for this extraordinary collection and look forward to sharing it at CasaCuba.