Celia Cruz's 15 Best Songs

July 16, 2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of the famous Cubana Celia Cruz's death after her long fight with brain cancer. During her career Cruz won a total of seven Grammys and was commemorated with the American National Medal of the Arts in 1994 by the National Endowment of the Arts. She had a presence that no one could match especially when she yelled “Azucar,” or sugar in English.  To commemorate all of her success we have rounded up her 15 best songs. Which is your favorite?

1. Celia Music: 1 La Vida Es Un Carnival

“La Vida Es Un Carnival”

Debuted in 1998 and has been a hit song ever since. This salsa song tells people to celebrate life and to live through it as if it were a carnival.

2. Celia Music: 2 La Negra Tiene Tumbao

“La Negra Tiene Tumbao”

The hottest single from her 2002 album La Negra Tiene Tumbao. It was the 59th album recorded by Celia Cruz. She was awarded a Grammy for Best Salsa Album and it was even nominated for Album of the Year.

3. Celia Music: 3 Guantanamera


Joseíto Fernandez originally recorded one of the best-known Cuban songs, Guantanamera but Cruz brought her azucar to the song and made the song even more popular than it originally was. 

4. Celia Music: 4 Yerbero Moderno

“Yerbero Moderno”

This was one of the many songs she recorded early in her career with the band La Sonora Matancera. This song was part of Celia Cruz Greatest Hits album released in 2012. 

5. Celia Music: 5 Quimbara


It was the hit single off of the 1974 album Celia & Johnny. This song was part of the first album she did with Johnny Pacheco and it went on to be a massive hit. 

6. Celia Music: 6 Azucar Negra

“Azucar Negra”

This was the hit song from her 1993 studio album Azucar Negra. This song talks about a woman who has “black sugar” running through her veins and that is why she is so passionate and full of life. We think Cruz was referring to herself, what do you think? 

7. Celia Music: 7 Yo Vivire

“Yo Vivire"

“Yo Vivire” is a Spanish rendition of the famous Gloria Gaynor song “I Will Survive.” This song was used for an album she collaborated on called Viva Latino in 2002. It was an album that featured multiple Latin artists singing their own songs and translating them into Spanish. 

8. Celia Music: 8 Rie y Llora

“Rie y Llora”

This was one of the most popular songs on her last studio album Regalo del Alma. The title of the song translates to Laugh and Cry and like always Cruz reminds her listeners to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment. 

9. Celia Music: 9 Bemba Colora

“Bemba Colora”

Celia Cruz is singing this song to remind the people of what a horrible dictator Fidel Castro was. She sings about birds trying to escape their cage symbolizing the many people that were trying to escape the Castro regime. 

10. Celia Music: 10 Oye Como Va

“Oye Como Va”

Tito Puente originally recorded this song in 1963 and Celia Cruz’s covered the song for her album, “Siempre Vivere,” in 2002. Because the song was covered, it was able to reach audiences that it hadn’t once before. 

11. Celia Music: 11 Usted Abuso

“Usted Abuso”

Celia Cruz recorded this song with another famous singer Willie Colon. This song is different from Cruz’s usual songs because it talks about an abusive relationship and being taken advantage of. 

12. Celia Music: 12 Cucala


This song was originally recorded by Maelo and rerecorded by Celia Cruz for her second album with Johnny Pacheco Tremendo Cache.

13. Celia Music: 13 Sazon


This song was featured in the album Carnaval de Exitos  and was released in 2002. This song is about her relationship with her longtime husband Pedro Knight. 

14. Celia Music: 14 Oye Mi Rumba

“Oye Mi Rumba”

This song was released in 1964 and featured Celia backed by the band Sonora Matancera.

15. Celia Music: 15 Que Le Den Candela

“Que Le Den Candela”

Considered by many a classic, the song talks about punishing a guy who did her wrong.