She was born Celida Ines Camacho. Both her parents are from Puerto Rico, however Celi was born in New York city, and at a very early age moved to Puerto Rico where she
grew up. There she met the handsome and talented Pepe Luis Soto. Soto would become her husband, mentor and catalyst to stardom.
Celida and Pepe were married in the 1960's and launched their careers on the local Puerto Rico scene. The singing duo released a series of records that had moderate success
during the 1960's and early 1970's under the name Celida y Pepe Luis, but the Hispanic record buying public was mainly captivated by her. Celida had a decent career during this
time, however she could not achieve the star status that some of her latin contemporaries like Nydia Caro, Ednita Nazario, Lissette or Charytin Goyco had.
In 1972, Celida scored a hit with "Yo Quiero Un Pincel (I Want A Brush)" which won her first place in the renown "Festival De La Voz y La Cancion." The album "Celida...Es Una
Cancion, (Celida..It Is A Song)" which included the song, was recently re-released in CD format with the original artwork and liner notes. The album gives evidence that her music
was taking a new direction, especially on the second single from it "Desesperada (Desperate)."
Shortly after it's release, both her and Pepe moved to the U.S. Still recording under the name of Celida she released her first English album. The first single, "Half A Love," was a
huge hit in Puerto Rico and it had marginal success in England and Ireland. Earlier English language recordings released on the Borinquen label, failed to attract attention. However
with "Half A Love" the transformation from latin pop artist to disco diva began.
By 1977 Pepe had already scored success with the emerging disco club scene via his Rice & Beans Orchestra. His affiliation and success with Henry Stone's T.K. Records allowed
him the opportunity to "sell" his wife to the up and coming label.
Their first collaboration for Stone's empire of labels yielded six tracks in 1977. Of the six tracks on the simply-titled "Celi Bee & The Buzzy Bunch" album, two made it to 12"
single status. The first was "Superman," which was a cover version of a Herbie Mann disco hit, and the second was "One Love." Both songs and the all-disco album became
immediate club favorites.
The Buzzy Bunch was actually nothing more than Pepe and the studio musicians that backed her. No one involved in the album expected it to be such a huge hit, hence the lack of an actual photo of Celi.
Flush with their initial success the husband and wife team followed it with her 1978 release "Alternating Currents." The first 12" single released was her biggest success to date. The pulsing "Macho (A Real, Real One)"
not only gave Celi a bona-fide hit, but established her as a club diva as well. "Hold Your Horses, Babe" and the title track were also played in heavy rotation. As before, husband Pepe produced and wrote the entire album
giving it a definite feel similar to the Rice And Beans Orchestra recordings. Unlike her debut release this one finally gave the world their first glimpse of Celi. Many were shocked at her ambiguous image. For her rather
masculine image was in direct contrast to her very feminine vocals. But remember too that this was 1978 and androgynous images had been "in" for several years in the music business. The album despite it's cover became a
1978 was indeed a banner year for the Bee. Late in that year she released her third successful album. Following the sure-fire recipe concocted by Pepe and Celi, he produced, she sang. This time Celi spread her wings
and recorded two of her own compositions. "Boomerang" and "Can't Let You Go" proved that she had learned her craft not only as a singer but as a songwriter as well. "Fly Me On The Wings Of Love" was not only the
album title but it's first single as well. It gave Celi her highest charting on Billboard to date. The single was edited down from the nearly 13 minute complete album side into a tasty mid-tempo club hit. The second 12"
single, "For The Love Of My Man" however did not fair as well. A solid track that didn't quite find it's market. The album featured backgrounds by future disco diva Ullanda (Yolanda) McCullough. And like it's predecessor,
Celi recorded her vocals in her favorite San Juan studio, Ochoa.
1979 gave Celi her last full length disco album. "Blow My Mind" was a monster hit and her most memorable recording. Perhaps it's success was due to it's unique 3/4 beat or it's wailing electric guitars, which gave it a
more rock-oriented dance feel. The cover featured a gun-sucking leather clad Celi in a sultry pose which seemed to capture the entire mood of the album. The second, and her final APA/T.K. 12" single, was "Love Drops."
Yet another solid track that failed to garner any momentum. The album featured re-edits by Dennis Hetzendorfer and disco mixes by Michael Arato and Steve Thompson. Other interesting tracks are: "Dancin' Nuts,"
"Donkey, Donkey" and "Give It To Me." My original album still has the insert offering "Original Celi Bee T-Shirts" amazingly the shirts, available in three styles, went for only $5.95-$14.95. And shipping was only .75 cents! I
wished I had ordered one....what an item for The DiscoMuseum that would be!
Around the time of the release of "Blow My Mind," her marriage to Pepe Luis Soto dissolved. The whole island of Puerto Rico mourned the divorce. This affected both of their careers, but hers seemed more affected by
the loss of the man that had guided her career for nearly two decades.
However Bee was not done for the count just yet. She next surfaced in 1983 on the Paris International label. The smart and sleek high energy number "I'm Free" scored Celi yet another club chart topper. The label
owned by Ray Martinez, the powerful producer of the disco classics "If There's Love" (Amant) and "Lady Of The Night." Martinez personally produced all the tracks released on the label. A second single, "Love Rocket,"
came and went, barely noticed despite being a rather good track. But as her luck would have it Paris International Records did not have the budget or resources to provide an album or even another 12" single.
Several years passed before Celi would have another semi-hit. In 1987 she once again contracted with an up and coming label. Dice Records had begun as a vehicle for Lauren Grey in 1985. With her success it branched
out with other artists most notably Lisa (of "Rocket To Your Heart" fame) and Ernest Kohl ("Bad To Be Good"). Celi's sole output for Dice was a 12" single of "I Can't Let Go" a mediocre number at best. The track is
unavailable now but if you find a copy...you be the judge?
In 1986, Celi Bee recorded her last album to date, "Como Agua y Arena" for TH Records, an important label in the Latin music industry at the time. However, they merged with Polygram Records at the time and "Como
Agua y Arena" had very little promotion. The other misstep was that people expected dance music from Celi and this project was filled with romantic ballads and a terrible album cover. She needed to reinvent her self for
this new project, but she opted to keep the same disco image, platinum blond short hair, gold nails, etc. It didn't fit her new sound.
1988 brought yet another obscure label and another lost release. On the AME label she cut the track "Don't You Leave Me Now." The record is so rare that no comment
can be made on it as I don't own it.
After this, she signed with EMI-Latin. The relationship received a lot of media attention within the Hispanic newspapers in the US and Puerto Rico. There was to be an
album in English and Spanish, but it was never released. At the time it was also rumored that Pepe Luis Soto was going to produce it. What EMI released was a single by a
Venezuelan group called Daiquiri, featuring Celi Bee. The name of the song was "My Tumbao" and the 12" had a version in English and one in Spanish.
Pepe Luis Soto, has remained active in recording and songwriting. His credits in the last decade or so include numerous latin projects most notably several compilations
featuring up and coming latin music artists. Pepe currently dabbles in I.T. consulting in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.
Celi lives in a suburb of Miami, Florida. Apparently she made a lot of money during her singing career, and knew how to invest it wisely. After leaving her singing career
she was a volunteer in the Dade County School System, teaching music in underprivileged neighborhoods. Currently she is the Executive Director for The 3-C's (Christ
Congregational Church) pre-school in Palmetto Bay Florida under her given name Celida Camacho.
She may never have another dance floor hit, but we have a wealth of treasures to enjoy thanks to Hot Productions reissue of all of her albums.
To Lady Celida.......thank you for all your contributions to the disco world.....we love you!