José Feliciano will receive the first-ever Billboard Legend Award at the 2022 Billboard Latin Music Awards, Telemundo and Billboard announced Wednesday (Sept. 21). The special award was created to honor artists with a career and personality that are “larger than life,” according to a press release. “A person whose contribution to music makes them a household name and who maintains a career that has withstood the test of time.”
Feliciano, known for his bilingual Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad,” will be recognized during the awards show, which will take place Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Watsco Canter in Miami and will broadcast live on Telemundo beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The Billboard Latin Music Awards — where Bad Bunny leads the list of finalists with a staggering 23 nods across 13 categories — will be simulcast on Telemundo, Universo, Peacock, the Telemundo App, and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on Telemundo Internacional.
From San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feliciano — who was born blind — began playing the concertina and accordion at age 6. Then, he studied guitar with Harold Morris and by the age of 17 was playing in Greenwich Village clubs. He recorded his first album in 1964 when he was 19 and since, the virtuoso performer has recorded more than 60 albums. Most recently, Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” celebrated its 50th anniversary and, to this day, it remains one of the top 10-performing hits in the decade-plus history of Billboard‘s Holiday 100 chart.
His special award coincides with the Sept. 29 release of his documentary José Feliciano – Behind This Guitar on Peacock in the U.S. The documentary, which chronicles the artist’s 60-year career, is produced and directed by Helen Murphy, Frank Licari and co-directed by Khoa Le. The film is executive produced by Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Carlos Santana and Rudy Perez.
As has been the case for more than 20 years, the Billboard Latin Music Awards coincide with Billboard’s annual Latin Music Week, the single largest and most important gathering of the Latin music industry, taking place Sept. 26-Oct. 1. Latin Music Week will feature panels, conversations and workshops at the Faena Forum and exclusive performances and fan experiences throughout the week in Miami.
Artists confirmed to speak at Latin Music Week so far include Chayanne, Maluma, Grupo Firme, Camilo, Ivy Queen, Romeo Santos and Nicky Jam, among many others. It will also feature the launch of Billboard Español, Billboard’s new all-Spanish site. For registration and information on Billboard Latin Music Week, go to billboardlatinmusicweek.com.