A chat with José Feliciano

By on August 28, 2008

TF talks to the super-talented, super-prolific and all-round Mr. Nice Guy, José Feliciano. One of 11 children, left blind at birth, he overcame his impairment to become one of the most adored acoustic guitarists in the world.

José, what enticed you into becoming a musician?
It just happened. I always wanted to be a musician, not a “star” so to speak, but a musician.

How has being blind affected how you perceive and appreciate the world?
I’d like to think that I see people for who they are, not what they look like or maybe pretend to be.

You grew up listening to an eclectic array of genres and artists. How does music today compare to your time?
I believe the biggest change is in the technology of today. Artists rely on that as much or more than the lyrical content or musicality of yesterday’s music. Some of it is very good, yet some of it is not so. But if you look back, the same was true for the earlier music, as well.

Latin music, from traditional sounds to current hits, continues to captivate music-lovers worldwide. Why do you think that is?
I believe because it is passionate and people like to lose themselves in that passion.

What music do you listen to now?
All kinds. All kinds. All kinds.

If music weren’t your life, what would you be doing now?
Only God knows.

What was the funniest experience you’ve ever had?
Gosh, I can’t answer that! (laughs)

Among the many achievements you’ve had, what are you most thankful for?
My fans, my family (I’m not sure in which order), my health, my faith, my friends… (laughter)

If you had the opportunity, who would you like to perform with?
Oh, I dunno, I do really appreciate Alicia Keys’ music, and oh my goodness, Aretha Franklin, or even Jennifer Hudson.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on your great journey?
To treat everyone with dignity as they so deserve to be treated.

What does family mean to Jose Feliciano?
Family is the cradle of life, the roots that keep us grounded.

Tell me about your typical family day back home.
Well, I awake each morning with my wife bringing me coffee in bed. We homeschool our three children so they start moving around a little after that, bringing life to the household, along with the many birds and two dogs that we have, you hear that they all want to be fed at the same time. Then we all share breakfast together as we discuss our day. I’ll go into the studio around noontime; the children start their schoolwork and my wife takes care of everything that comes at her: the business issues, the family issues, the household issues, she’s always very busy. We all meet up in the early evening to share dinner. Sometimes the children will have an appointment with their friends or I’ll meet with my buddies for a drink and to listen to some music or we’ll all go to a movie. Sometimes, we’ll have a quiet dinner at home and watch TV, especially when there is a baseball game. We all love baseball, especially my wife and daughter…the boys do, too, but the girls make more noise.

Your sons, Michael and Jonathan, seem to be very devoted musicians and you have a daughter, Melissa, who is a dancer. How involved are you with your children’s artistic endeavours?
Unfortunately, I’ve spent so much time on the road; my wife has had to carry the ball on a lot of issues concerning the children and what-not. When I am at home we try to catch up and because we are such a close-knit family, I think we do okay. But that’s where as parents we really are a team, and it has worked out quite well.

José, what’s the first thing you will be doing when you go back to Connecticut?
Give everybody a big hug, including the dogs! (laughter)

Joy Saison spoke to  José Feliciano.  
Courtesy of  Billboard Live Tokyo

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