Every holiday season, you can’t help but sing along to the infectious melody of José Feliciano’s 1970 mega single, “Feliz Navidad.” But aside from the holiday hit, the Puerto Rican singer boasts an almost 60-year musical career.
Feliciano was born in 1945 in Lares, Puerto Rico and has been blind since birth. He was five when he and his family migrated to Spanish Harlem and it was in New York City where he developed his love for music and crafted his skills on the guitar.
In the 1960s, Feliciano went on to become an international sensation—especially in Latin America. One of his specialties is recording covers like The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin'” and Benito de Jesús’ “La Copa Rota”—blending them with his own sound of blues, folk, soul and Latin. Since then, he’s performed for crowds all over the world, recorded over 60 albums and won multiple Grammy awards. This year, he released a new album titled Behind This Guitar.
In this conversation with Maria Hinojosa, Feliciano opens up about why he keeps the 70s alive and about one of his favorite relationships—the one he has with his guitar.
Bonus: Feliciano stopped by our office for a “Live From Latino USA” performance of his cover of “En Mi Viejo San Juan.”
Featured photo by Anders Wallace.