Legendary Latin Artist Celia Cruz’s African Roots Revealed

Known to many as La Guarachera de Cuba’ and the ‘Queen of Salsa,’ Celia Cruz, the most popular Latin artist of the 20th Century, posthumously adds the Balanta people of Guinea-Bissau to her distinguished legacy. As part of AfricanAncestry.com’s Remember Who You Are campaign, Cruz’s iconic roots were traced using the DNA of a niece on her maternal line.

“This is an exciting moment for us because Celia Cruz fully embraced her African heritage in life and her music, which is pretty trailblazing for her time,” said AfricanAncestry.com President and Co-founder Gina Paige. “We’re proud to support the growing number of people from Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, etc., turning to us to add the ‘African’ to their identities and legends such as Cruz paved the way.”

AfricanAncestry.com used its single lineage MatriClan® test to trace Celia Cruz’s mother’s mothers’ line to the Balanta people of Guinea-Bissau as means to honor Cruz. Celia Cody, Cruz’s niece and namesake provided her DNA through a simple swabbing of the cheek. 

Records show that nearly 600,000 enslaved Africans were brought to Cuba during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Born in Havana, Cruz often integrated Yoruban Tribal influences in her work as a fearless show of African pride. “We now know she’s of the Balanta people — known as ‘those who resist’ — and we are honored to celebrate her legacy in this unprecedented way,” said Paige.

To see the video Reveal of Celia Cruz’s ancestry, visit AfricanAncestry.com/Remember. Visit www.AfricanAncestry.com for special Black History Month offers throughout February

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