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Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, is making history nearly 20 years after her death

(SOUNDBITE OF CELIA CRUZ SONG, "LA VIDA ES UN CARNAVAL")

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

La guarachera de Cuba and the queen of salsa is making history nearly 20 years after her death. Celia Cruz will soon be honored as the first Afro Latina to appear on a U.S. quarter.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LA VIDA ES UN CARNAVAL")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in Spanish).

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Cuban American singer left a music legacy that included numerous Grammy Awards, a National Medal of Arts and 23 gold albums.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Her performance was just - was untouchable.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras. He says Cruz's career transcended music. Cruz's former manager, Omer Pardillo Cid, agrees.

OMER PARDILLO CID: The only thing that was better than the singer that everybody knew - it was the persona behind Celia Cruz.

FADEL: But this recognition is special.

PARDILLO CID: Being a first Afro Latina to obtain this honor, I think, is amazing because Celia was a trailblazer.

FADEL: Ariana Curtis is the curator for Latinx studies at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

ARIANA CURTIS: She was an unapologetic Black woman. And you can see that in her style. You can hear that in her songs, from "Quimbara" to "La Negra Tiene Tumbao."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LA NEGRA TIENE TUMBAO")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in Spanish).

CELIA CRUZ: (Singing in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: Pardillo Cid says Cruz was proud of being an Afro Latina.

PARDILLO CID: There is a new generation that, obviously, are identifying with Celia's culture, music. And they feel proud of her.

MARTÍNEZ: The U.S. Mint says the new quarter will be out in mid-2024.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LA NEGRA TIENE TUMBAO")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in Spanish).

CRUZ: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.