José Feliciano

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About José Feliciano

Best known for his 1970 holiday classic “Feliz Navidad,” singer, songwriter, and virtuoso guitarist José Feliciano is a global superstar who became one of the first Latin artists to enjoy mainstream popularity in the US. • Born blind as a result of congenital glaucoma, Feliciano was five when his family moved from Puerto Rico to New York City. He began learning the concertina at age 6 before taking up the guitar when he was nine or 10. • Feliciano quit high school at 17 and began performing in coffeehouses and cafes to help support his family. A rave review in the New York Times ran around the same time Feliciano signed a record deal with RCA. • His career took off first in Argentina, where had a string of hits in the mid-’60s, including “Usted” and “Extraños en la Noche” in 1966 and “El Carcel de Sing Sing” in 1967. • Feliciano’s breakthrough in the US came in 1968 on Feliciano!, an album of acoustic covers including songs by The Beatles, The Mamas and the Papas, and The Doors. • Feliciano! reached No. 2, went gold, and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Feliciano’s version of “Light My Fire” peaked at No. 3 and won a Grammy for Best Male Contemporary Pop Performance. Feliciano also won the Grammy for Best New Artist. • Only a handful of Feliciano’s subsequent LPs made the US charts, but he was an international star, and he has continued releasing albums at a steady clip, in English and Spanish. • Though 1970’s “Feliz Navidad” is one of the 25 most-played holiday songs, the tune didn’t crack the charts until nearly 30 years after Feliciano first released it, reaching Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart in 1998. The song broke into the Hot 100 pop chart in 2017 and reached No. 6 in 2020. • Feliciano’s song “Me Enamore,” the title track from his 1983 album, won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance. He won the same award in 1986 for “Le Lo Lai,” from his album Amaré; in 1989 for “Cielito Lindo,” from I’m Never Gonna Change; and in 1990 for “Por Que Te Tengo Que Olvidar?,” from Niña. He won the Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album in 2008 for Señor Bachata.

Lares, Puerto Rico, United States
September 10, 1945
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