A 77-year-old with terminal cancer records an uptempo, salsa album.
A 77-year-old with terminal cancer records an uptempo, salsa album. And yet, Celia Cruz's posthumously released set, "Regalo del Alma," sounds more alive than most material by artists a third her age. With contemporary, highly personalized repertoire, arrangements that veer from classic to edgy and vibrant delivery, the quality of "Regalo" transcends the circumstances of its recording. Never a nostalgia act, Cruz thrived by being in the vanguard. The album has plenty of traditional son but opens with "Ella Tiene Fuego," a rap/tropical track featuring El General. There's a salsa version of the classic "Ay, Pena, Penita," a duet with Lolita, and the single "Ríe y Llora" is a pop-laced cha-cha-cha with electric guitar. The finale is a Spanish version of "I Will Survive." Without a single overdub, it's a stark and moving reminder of the power of this woman and her voice.—LC