Celia Cruz: How the Late Cuban Singer's Google Doodle Came to Be

5:13 PM PST 10/21/2013 by Leila Cobo, Billboard

The "Queen of Salsa" would have been 88 on Monday.

This article first appeared on Billboard.biz.

Millions of Google users worldwide woke up this morning to find a Google-Doodle on the home page of a woman with multi-colored hair wearing a sweeping blue gown. It's the late Cuban singer Celia Cruz, who would have turned 88 years old on Monday. 

Known as the "Queen of Salsa," Cruz, who recorded over 78 albums in her lifetime, has already been remembered with a postage stamp and honored with a National Endowment for the Arts and a Smithsonian Museum exhibit.  An exuberant presence, her image was immediately identified today by Latin music fans everywhere. 

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But how Cruz came to become that doodle was more by happenstance than design, says Omer Pardillo-Cid, Cruz's longtime manager and now sole executor of her estate. Earlier this year, Google execs were in the Miami offices of Eventus -- the multicultural experiential, sports and entertainment marketing company where Pardillo-Cid is now VP of Entertainment -- getting acquainted with Eventus' portfolio. In the works were several projects set to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Cruz's death on July 15. 

Google's interest was piqued and they suggested a Doodle. But by the time the project was approved, Cruz's anniversary had passed and the next commemoration was her Oct. 21 birthday. 

"Truth is, from the onset, they were very receptive to celebrating anything surrounding her," says Pardillo-Cid. 

Design of the doodle took some back and forth, with the face taking the longest. In the beginning, says Pardillo-Cid, the emphasis was on the outfit, but finally, the face became more prominent. As far as the colors and design, artists were sent several pictures of Cruz -- who was known for her show-stopping wigs and dresses -- to choose from. The image used as inspiration was Cruz dressed in a gauzy blue dress with peacock feathers that she wore to perform at a tribute concert for Whoopi Goldberg in Kennedy Center and again at a concert in her honor at Auditorio Nacional in Mexico. 

The Cruz doodle will only be up through the end of the day, but it will go down as one of the very few Latin-inspired Google Doodles the search engine has ever produced (past efforts include doodles on painter Diego Rivera, writer Jorge Luis Borges and earlier this year, one commemorating the birthday of singer Chavela Vargas.

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Cruz's legacy will continue, however. On Oct. 22, her label, Sony Music U.S. Latin, will release the company's first ever iBook, titled Celia Cruz: The Lady, The Legend, Her Legacy. The 36-page interactive book, released in English and Spanish versions, will be fully interactive and includes previously unreleased images, videos, recording session diaries and interviews with Cruz and multiple collaborators. The book complements the recently released compilation Celia Cruz -- The Absolute Collection, which includes top hits from Cruz's more than five-decade career. 

"Celia would have loved all this," says Pardillo-Cid. "If she had such a career before the digital era, you can just imagine what she could have done today." 

Pardillo-Cid and Eventus are also currently working on digitizing all of Cruz's material as part of the Celia Cruz Legacy Project.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com

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