The late, great ladies of song, and that Philly sound: how Celia, Dinah and Ella were crowned queens, and musicmakers in the City of Brotherly of Love became known for their soulful sounds.

Author:Carter, Zakia Munirah
Position:Celia: My Life - Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Biography - Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington - Book Review

Celia: My Life by Celia Cruz with Ana Christina Reymundo HarperCollins, July 2004 $24.95, ISBN 0-060-72553-2

Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Biography by Stuart Nicholson Routledge, July 2004 $19.95, ISBN 0-415-97117-5

Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington by Nadine Cohodas Pantheon Books, August 2004 $28.50, ISBN 0-375-42148-3

Sadly, there are no digitally enhanced and remastered recordings that can truly convey the beauty, brilliance, clarity and genius of the late, great Celia Cruz, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. In this underwhelming time of pop stars packaged to the demands of an industry, image seems to be more of a concern than actual singing ability--with a few exceptions. For those who did not have the fortunate experience of seeing and hearing the Queen of Salsa, the Queen of Blues or the First Lady of Jazz in concert, this trio of books is an introduction to music royalty divine. Consider these biographies mandatory reading.

It is hard to believe that it's been more than a year since Celia Cruz belted out her signature "Azucar!" for the very last time. Determined to tell her own story, before her death on July 16, 2004, Ursula Hilaria Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso shared her memories--more than 500 hours of taped interviews---with writer and editor Ana Reymundo. Cruz proves to be as avid and generous a storyteller as she was an outrageously gifted singer. From her a working class childhood in Cuba, which was made rich by music and the love of family and friends, to her exile from her beloved country, to her subsequent rise to international fame as a singer and performer, the details of her life are carefully laid out for readers to linger over, like a composer selecting notes for a new composition.

Notoriously private, Fitzgerald, who died in 1993, granted few interviews. Unable to work directly with Fitzgerald, Stuart Nicholson distinguishes his newly revised...

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