Remembering Celia, La Lupe and Graciela

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[Entertainment: Music]

Timbalero and band leader Jimmy Delgado is the man behind the Legends of Salsa Series which he produced in collaboration with Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. The third of the series will be presented at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 24th at 8:00 p.m. 

Legends of Salsa 3: Remembering Celia, Lupe and Graciela will honor these 3 great female salsa legends. Featured artists will be Sully Diaz,Choco Orta, Cita Rodriguez and Yolanda Rivera.  Also featured is the 21-piece Mambo Legends Orchestra, the former All-Stars of the TitoPuente Orchestra, under the direction of Jose Madera and Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez.  Frankie
Vazquez and invited guests RonniePuente, Pedrito Martinez and the Los Tambores Bata Trio will alsotake part in this historic evening.

“I thought it would be a good idea tobring together young female singers of Latin music like Sully Diaz,Yolanda Rivera, Choco Orta and Cita Rodriguez to sing the songs ofthese 3 great female legends,” explained the shows producer.  “Asyou may
know, when we started to put the production together,Graciela Perez-Guiterrez was the only living singer left since Celia and La Lupe had passed.  When I first called Graciela to tell herabout the show she was so excited.  She said she hoped God would
lether live to see it.  Unfortunately, Graciela passed away April 7th at 94 years old.  We planned to present Graciela with a proclamation andperhaps ask her to sing one of her famous songs, but now we will haveto present the proclamation
posthumously,” said Delgado with sadness.  

Jimmy Delgado was part of a playentitled “My Life, My Destiny” produced by MiriamColón Valle  about the life of La Lupe.  “This was 9 years ago.  I was also working with Harry Belafonte around that timebut this show was a great opportunity for me,” stated Jimmy.  “Iwould dare to say La Lupe was more of a diva than Celia and Graciela. She was on the Merv Grifffin and Dick Cavett Shows and was able tocross over into the American market.  She performed a lot on Americantelevision.

Eventually, her record company teamed her up with Tito Puente and that is when her career picked up and she became aworldwide superstar.  I was so happy to be part of this play because it was a real heartfelt and emotional experience.  It was
like bringing her to life.  The play was a hit.  People came to see itover and over but it only lasted 4 months.  Sully Diaz portrayed LaLupe and its a shame the show didn't tour in order to share La Lupe's life with a national audience,” said
Delgado's whose CD “Salsacon Dulzura” pays tribute to many musicians who do not often getthe spotlight singers do.

“I had the opportunity to work withCelia Cruz when I was 19 years old,” said Delgado.  “To bebacking Celia at 19 years old was a blessing.  She took the band toan entire new level.  She was a flamboyant dresser and quite colorful.  She had beautiful energy and was a great performer.  Celiawas very humble and sweet.  Whatever pain she had off stage would begone once she stepped on the stage.  She would get onto the stage androck the house and audiences that came to her shows left
happy” recalled Jimmy.

Sonera Choco Orta who is tauted assomeone who could be the natural successor of Celia Cruz, spoke abouther participation in the Legends of Salsa 3 series.  “I am honored that I met Graciela and was invited by her to her birthday celebration.  She
honored me by telling me that I have what it takes to be a salsa singer in this business.  At 94 years old, Graciela had a very clear mind.  I went to see her once in the hospital because she was very sick.  She was sitting with her head down.  I
greeted her.  She looked up at me and said 'Who are you?'  I was surprised and didn't know what to say.  I said, 'I am Choco Orta. Do you remember that I met you at your birthday party?  She said, 'What birthday party?  I never had a birthday party.'  I
started to wonder whether she was going through Alzheimer.  I apologized and started to leave and then Graciela burst into laughter and said 'Comeback here!  Don't be silly. I am just pulling your leg.' We both laughed. She had me going there for a
moment.  I knew then Graciela was not only a unique person but one with a funny sense of humor,” chuckled Choco recalling Graciela's joke on her. 

“I will be singing a Graciela song and several of Celia Cruz's songs including 'Bemba Colora' (Red Lips) at Lehman Center.  Also, I am also singing the songs of all three of these great ladies on my new CD AhoraMismo...Choco Orta," said Choco.  “I also had the opportunityto work on stage with Celia in 2001. When you have the opportunity tomeet great people, who are unique and whose music will always be withus, you feel lucky.  I'm lucky to sing their songs and record their music.  These are the ladies that opened doors for younger Latin female singers like myself to follow them.  Cita and Yolanda, I believe will sing songs of Graciela and Sully some of La Lupe's songs at Lehman.  This will truly be an historic night with many of theLatin greats coming to honor these wonderful and legendary ladies of Salsa music while backed by a 21-piece band,” said the Puerto Rico born singer.

The historic night is Saturday, April 24th at 8PM, canpurchase tickets from the Lehman Center Box Office, located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd West in the Bronx, by calling 718-960-8833 or go online at Parking is free.


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