Multi-Award winning Latin singer, composer and guitarist, Jose Feliciano, will be back at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx after a four year absence. The singer appeared at Lehman in 2006, 2008 and again in 2010. So, returning to Lehman Center, located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West, on Saturday May 10 at 8:00 p.m., the day before Mother’s Day, will be like old home week for the musical star.
The Lifetime Achievement Award winner is best known for his chart-topping recording of “Light My Fire,” which catapulted him to pop superstardom in 1968. The famed tenor possesses an unmistakable voice and has been influencing pop, soul and Latin music for over two generation, singing in English, Spanish and Italian. His mega-hits include “Che Sera” and “Feliz Navidad.” Feliz Navidad has been among the “25 Greatest Holiday Songs of the Century” noted ASCAP. Jose has recorded 45 gold and platinum records and received nine Grammy Awards. He has garnered countless honors and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I continue to count my blessings,” says Jose. “America has been good to me. My fans are important to me. But I cannot leave God out, because without God, nothing can happen. So I do not take my stardom for granted. I try to remain humble. I think part of being a good entertainer is never forgetting your beginnings so I continue to appreciate everyone who helped me along the way,” stated the very humble Jose who was born blind into humble beginnings in Lares, Puerto Rico in 1945.
“My parents were concerned how I was going to make a living but fortunately I took a liking to the guitar and with continued practice, I perfected it. Having been born into meager circumstances, I listened to the blues. I understood the music of Muddy Waters. I tried to combine my Latin roots with my soul roots. Outside of Spanish music, I was influenced by singers like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and I listened to a lot of Motown and was very impressed by Stevie Wonder who wrote a lot of his own compositions. It took a while, but I finally began to write some of my own music as well,” remarked Feliciano.
Feliciano’s major break was in the Spanish market when, after an amazing performance at the 1966 Mar del Plata Festival in Argentina, RCA executives in Buenos Aires asked him to stay and record an album of Spanish music. His first single, “Poquita Fe” was a smash hit, and “Usted” was even bigger. Infusing long-time standard boleros with his own guitar and vocal styling, he became the teen idol of the day. “Being a teen idol was wonderful but it could be scary too. I could feel hands touching me from all directions and sometimes I would become disorientated. Finally I worked out a routine where my people would open the car door and form a barrier and I would just run straight ahead until I felt the car and jump in. This became the routine after every performance,” recalled Feliciano of his teenage idol days.
Feliciano became a star throughout Central and South America, as well as in Mexico and the Caribbean. When he met producer Rich Jarrard, it was Jarrard who encouraged the singer to record a Doors’ song “Light My Fire.” By the time he was 23, José Feliciano had performed the song throughout most of the world and earned five Grammy nominations, winning two for his album Feliciano. That same year (1968) José caught the world by surprise when he became the first artist to ever stylize and publicly perform the “National Anthem.” It went on to chart the Top-40. With his own style of acoustic guitar, jazz and American vocal inflections, Jose created the pathway for new generations of stylization of the anthem.
In 2008, his album Señor Bachata won a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Tropical Album as well as a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Album. Fans have enjoyed countless Feliciano songs, which include “Rain”, “Chico and the Man”, “California Dreaming”, “Destiny”, “Affirmation”, “Ay Cariño”, “Ponte A Cantar”, “Cuando El Amor Se Acaba” and “Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar?.” His latest release in 2012, was The King, a tribute to Elvis Presley.
Tickets for the show can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833 or by going on line at www.LehmanCenter.org.