There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
It’s not every woman who can draw 250,000 people to her wake in Miami and 150,000 more to a second one in New York City. Seventy-seven-year-old salsa singer Celia Cruz, however, did. The National Museum of American History’s “¡Azúcar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz” examines this Spanish-language warbler’s iconic status through video footage, music, vintage photographs, devotional figurines, record covers, and—last but not least—her flamboyant, garishly colored wigs, dresses, and shoes. Though this multimedia display does not provide textual detail on every aspect of the energetic artist’s busy life, it captures her cultural symbolism. More than just a crooner, Cruz was a female vocalist in a male-dominated field, a Cuban exile denied the right by Castro to return for her mother’s funeral, a representative of Latin- American and African traditions, and a performer who stayed musically relevant for more than 60 years. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (daily; to Oct. 30) at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Steve Kiviat)