Honor the Queen of Latin Soul With a Tribute Concert in NYC This Weekend

Lead Photo: Creative Commons "La Lupe" by Frederikperestroika is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Creative Commons "La Lupe" by Frederikperestroika is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
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Sure, Celia Cruz will always reign as Cuba’s unmatched and inimitable Queen of Salsa. But often obscured in Cruz’s legacy is La Lupe, another explosive Afro-Cuban powerhouse who used her booming voice to belt out guarachas, salsas, and sones from Santiago to New York.

La Lupe grew up admiring Cruz, and would eventually become her contemporary, winning crowds over with wild, over-the-top performances. Her onstage dynamism, where she’d dance, shake and scream “Ay-yi-yi-yi!,” as well as her unabashed confidence, blazed trails for future Afro-Latina stars — and earned her a figurative crown of her own as the Queen of Latin Soul.

La Lupe’s career fell into slow decline toward the end of her life, but her memory still lives on. Tomorrow, in honor of Caribbean Heritage Month, New York’s City College Center for the Arts, Pregones Theater, and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute join forces to honor La Lupe’s powerful, albeit lesser known, story. The tribute will include a performance by Nuyorican poet and vocalist Caridad de La Luz (aka La Bruja), Nina Rodriguez, Puerto Rico’s Calma Carmona, and a special cameo from Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez, a mambo legend and member of the Tito Puente Orchestra.

Friday’s performance culminates a week of activities that illuminated aspects of La Lupe’s life. The Bronx’s Pregones Theater hosted the panel discussion “Demystifying A Diva – La Lupe: Panel Discussion and Record Sampling” on Tuesday with documentarian Ela Troyano, author Juan Moreno and Joe Conzo Sr., a record collector and the former publicist, archivist and confidant of Tito Puente. On June 1, the celebration included a screening of the documentary “La Lupe, the Queen of Latin Soul” and a conversation with Troyano, who directed the film.

The show takes place tomorrow at City College’s Aaron Davis Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and can be purchased here.