Salsa queen Celia Cruz was as exuberant in her dress as she was in her richly emotive music. And because the joy she exuded on stage was on equally vivid display in her expressive face, La Reina de Salsa was a photographer's dream. During the last 15 years of her life, Cruz, who died in 2003, allowed Rodriguez-Duarte, a Cuban-American fashion photographer also known for his celebrity portraits, to shoot her at leisure in dressing rooms and hotel suites. A one-woman carnaval, Cruz is seen in the extravagantly embroidered traditional Cuban guarachera dresses that she wore both as costumes and while making her royal way about town in New York City, Miami and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the text in this book fails to put Cruz—an ambassador of Cuban music and culture who left Cuba shortly after Castro's revolution—into proper perspective. Instead of giving the reader a taste of her life, the text (in Spanish and English) is dominated by testimonials from Latino celebs like Andy Garcia as well as from Rodriguez-Duarte. Still, this book is a visual treat; clearly, the bewitching spirit of Celia Cruz lives on.