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La Lupe

Biography

La Lupe was once dubbed by Tito Puente the "Queen of Soul" and by others the "Queen of Salsa," but she ultimately became a footnote in a music world that exploded with the rise of Fania in the early '70s. The Cuban singer brought all her emotional life to bear on her singing, as well as a hefty dose of humor and irreverence, which upended traditional Caribbean singing in the 1960s. She often sang of and for the marginalized, which -- in addition to her theatricality -- belatedly endeared her to the queer community. No genre lay outside her reach, whether it was son montuno, guanguanco, cha cha cha or rock 'n' roll, and her Spanish-language covers of North American hits like "Fever" earned her residence in the Kitsch Hall of Fame. But there's much more to La Lupe, born Guadalupe Yoli. Her work with Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente broke new ground, helping salsa define itself as music that could incorporate influences from many genres. Her personal demons, including substance abuse, took their toll, but in recent years the singer has finally begun to receive her due -- if only posthumously. She died in the Bronx in 1992; in 2002 New York City renamed E. 140th Street "La Lupe Way."
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