Celia Cruz, salsa songstress, honored by Jennifer Lopez at AMAs

Salsa icon Celia Cruz received a high-energy tribute from Jennifer Lopez and a bevy of ballroom dancers at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Lopez, 44, honored the legendary Cruz, who died in 2003, by performing a medley of hits featuring colorful costume and flippy hair changes. Cruz died at age 77 after battling brain cancer.


The Afro-Cuban songstress, who has been called the "queen of salsa," won two Grammys and three Latin Grammys. Last month, Cruz was honored with a Google Doodle.

And honestly, it was hard to resist the temptation of searching for underground salsa clubs after Lopez's lively number.

"I've got one very special person on my mind this morning! #AMAs #legend #CeliaCruz," Lopez wrote on Instagram Sunday, sharing a photo of Cruz.

"I felt very honored and a little scared, I don't think there is anything better for this year's AMA," Lopez told the Associated Press before the performance. "I know that a lot of fans who will watch the show will know who she was, but we will also educate a lot of people reminding them of the impact she had in the music scene, not just in Latin American countries, but also in the United States."

The "American Idol" judge donned a black sequin number when she opened with "Quimbara," then underwent a theatrical costume change for "La Vida Es un Carnaval," for which she wore rainbow-like sequin and ruffled dress. Lastly, she stripped to a fringed bodysuit for her finale of "Bemba Colorá."

Lopez, who was campaigning for show sponsor Kohl's with #getjenniferthere, was joined by former "Dancing With the Stars" pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy for the powerhouse finale that ended with Lopez doing back flips on the arms of the agile dancers and being carried triumphantly by the hunky reality-competition star.

"Que viva Celia," she declared at the end of her performance.

"THAT just happened! #AMAs @JLo is EN FUEGO!!!" Chmerkovskiy tweeted, adding "The most stressful 4 seconds of my life!

On Monday, Lopez also shared a .gif-video collage of the finale number on Instagram.

"Highlights from last night! Thank you internet, lol! #AMAs #QueVivaCelia," Lopez wrote.

It's not the first time Lopez has taken on the role of a Latin icon: In the 1997 film "Selena," Lopez played the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who died at the hands of Yolanda Saldivar at age 23.


After the show, Lopez reportedly hit DSquared's after-party at Chateau Marmont and reveled with boyfriend Casper Smart and bestie Leah Remini, People reported.


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