The Original Crossover Artist
We hear it a lot today, this word, “crossover”. It refers to a revolution in pop culture: the ‘crossing over’ or melding of the Spanish with the English. It’s food. It’s fashion. It’s hot, and it’s what’s happening now. The influence of our neighbors to the south appeals to our palette. It appeals to our taste for excitement and spice in life. It’s sexy and exhilarating. It’s exotic, yet very familiar to us for we’ve been enjoying it now, for years.
Music, too, has experienced this revolution. We have witnessed the ‘crossing over’ of Spanish-speaking artists and their music to our English-speaking market. For example, take a look at Julio Iglesias. His suave, smooth approach to a song has been warming the hearts of northern girls since the 80’s. The Miami Sound Machine, also, brought Latin music’s rhythm to the shores of North America, and along with Gloria Estefan, helped to bring this music to America’s youth.
Additionally, Shikira, Marc Anthony, Santana and Enrique Iglesias are continuing to cultivating a music that is captivating and alive. The Latin Sound of today can be festive and upbeat, or intense and sensitive. It moves, and it moves us!
We’ve become so familiar with the Latin presence that it’s truly become a part of us. We barely blink at the distinction. We’ve become familiar with the rhythm and its sound to where it’s become as comfortable to us as salsa on corn chips. But when we use this word, “crossover”, we infer to a total melding of the two cultures, a complete assimilation to our taste, both musically and otherwise.
The truly original crossover artist, therefore, based on this conclusion is Jose Feliciano. His name and his music was mainstreamed into the American scene in 1968 when he took a contemporary rock hit by The Doors and re-shaped it to appeal, not only to our feel for sensuality, but for our taste of spice — picante, if you will. Also that year, The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded Jose five Grammy nominations and two Grammy Awards, for his achievements for his album, “Feliciano!”. He was awarded the honor of Best New Artist of 1968– clearly, the definitive crossover hallmark. Our palettes had developed as we had finally acquired a taste for the hot, rhythmic and sensual.
It was Jose Feliciano, after all, who fashioned our sense for interpretation of the “Star-Spangled Banner”, our National Anthem. He was the first and now it’s common place. You don’t get more ‘crossed over’ than that, by any means.
Over the years, the music of Feliciano has penetrated the North American music market, subtly influencing it with his classically-acoustic guitar, his earthy vocal inflections and Caribbean grooves. Recently, Jose received his sixteenth Grammy Nomination and continues to forge ahead, satisfying his–and our–musical curiosity. He is shaping music’s course, towards a sensual, rhythmic style and is nurturing our innate cultural diversity. His music assures us that we’re all inclusive; that we all belong together, after all.
Probably no other artist has contributed to this Cultural Revolution more convincingly, more completely, than Jose Feliciano. His cross over technique is absolutely flawless in that he combines both languages, and so effortlessly, so as to have all of us unite in one voice. We think of this, annually, as we enjoy repetitive choruses of “Feliz Navidad–I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!”
This cross-over revolution is a peaceful, yet spirited progression toward a new eclectic musical lifestyle that was born in the sun and is headed for the stars. And, for over thirty years, Jose Feliciano has been the heart of it.