Doyenne of Salsa

Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte chokes up when he talks about his 15-year friendship with La Reina de la Salsa, Celia Cruz. "Celia was an inspiration for me; she was the light," the New York-based photographer whispers after catching his breath. Rodriguez-Duarte met the doyenne of Cuban music when he and his husband, fashion stylist Tico Torres, were surviving on a diet of bread and mayonnaise. "It was 1988 and we were living in London, and we noticed a huge poster that announced, 'Celia Cruz in concert!' My first thought was, Who in London would go see Celia Cruz?" Homesick, the Cuban-born couple, who had met in Miami, rang the hotel where the Grammy-winning diva was preparing for her concert. They were both left tongue-tied when Cruz invited them up for tea and cake and also left them two VIP tickets at the box office.

"Siempre Viviré: Photographic Portraits of Celia Cruz," a series of black-and-white snaps from Rodriguez-Duarte's 2004 book, Presenting Celia, is on view at Miami-Dade's Hispanic Branch Library. See the exhibit through March.
Tue., Feb. 28, 10 a.m., 2012
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