As important as his recognition for being the first Latin artist to cross over into the English music market is José Feliciano’s inability to see.
José Montserrate Feliciano García, his full name, was born blind. Despite of this, he was able to play the concertina when he turned six. He was also able to perform at The Puerto Rican Theater in the Bronx when he was just nine and he was around 17 when a music critic from the New York Times saw him play at a coffee house in Gerde’s Folk City. He was described as a “10-fingered wizard who romps, runs, rolls, picks and reverberates his six strings in an incomparable fashion” then.
By the time he was 23, José Feliciano already earned five Grammy nominations, won two Grammy Awards, performed over much of the world, and recorded songs in four languages. Three of these celebrated songs are “Light My Fire,” “Che Sara,” and “Feliz Navidad.” He eventually became known the world over as “the greatest living guitarist”.
José Feliciano has been also referred to as “the Picasso of his Realm.” He has been recognized as the “Best Pop Guitarist” in the Guitar Player Magazine and has been voted the “Best Jazz and Best Rock Guitarist” in the Playboy Magazine. The Billboard Magazine has selected him to receive a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The New York City has renamed the Public School 155 in East Harlem to be “The Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School” in his honor. The Catholic Church has knighted him at the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut has accorded him a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his musical and humanitarian contributions to the world.
Today, José Feliciano is also known for being the “Ambassador of Good Will” throughout the world. Apart from performing with the London Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, among others, he also often supports charities “that he believes are important.”
“I used to be a dreamer in school. I never, in all my wildest days, would ever think I’d become kind of a Latin idol to the women in Latin countries or a hero to young kids. I never thought of that. My main interest really was playing music. I was always fascinated by the sound I could get out of things. I’m just, a very lucky person, that God gave me the chance to do what I’m doing.” ~ José Feliciano
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of ognet