Jose Feliciano was the first Latin singer to really establish himself in the American music market. The Puerto Rican guitarist and singer has earned nine Grammy Awards. His first major hit in the American market was his version of “Light My Fire” by the Doors.
Photo: Jose Feliciano made Latin music part of mainstream America (Creative Commons: Alex De Mey).
Early Life of Jose Feliciano
Jose Feliciano was born in 1945 in Puerto Rico. He was born blind due to congenital glaucoma. Jose was one of eleven boys in the poor family. Thus, he started out life with blindness and poverty. Nevertheless, he overcame those difficulties and achieved success.
His first experience with music came at age three. He learned to play a tin cracker can with his uncle. At age six, he taught himself to play the accordion by listening to records. When his father gave him a guitar, the boy taught himself by listening to records again. He was a determined learner. He often locked himself alone in a room and practiced fourteen hours a day.
At the age of 17, his family was going through some difficult financial times. Jose decided to quit school and earn money to help support the family. He played in coffee houses to earn a small income. Jose eventually earned some contracts for professional performances.
At the age of 21, he performed in Argentina. He impressed some record producers and was asked to produce a Spanish album. It was a success and he went on to become famous among the Latin audience.
Jose moved to Los Angeles in the United States. There, he recorded “Feliz Navidad” and “Light My Fire.” Both were successes and Jose Feliciano became a household name in the United States. At the age of 23, he had earned two Grammy Awards for his album “Feliciano!”
Video: Feliciano Performs Feliz Navidad
Video: Jose Feliciano performing Feliz Navidad (source: YouTube).
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