Celia Cruz’s dynamic performances, rich voice, and flamboyant attire brought her to the stage of Havana’s famed Tropicana nightclub in the 1950s. Shortly after Fidel Castro seized power of Cuba in 1959, Cruz left the island for a one-year contract in Mexico, never to return. She defected in 1961. Eventually, Cruz settled in New York City, where her music was initially considered old-fashioned. By the 1970s, however, when the new genre of salsa saturated the airwaves and filled the nightclubs, she had become its reina (queen). Her songs, while speaking to pan-Latino audiences, also became a direct connection to Cuba for the thousands of exiles living in the United States and elsewhere in the world. As artist Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte has noted, Cruz “brought [people] home again.” For this portrait session held in Miami, she sang acapella in a traditional guarachera dress while placed against a backdrop that evokes 1950s Havana.