Jose Feliciano: Feliz Navidad has been an albatross around my neck

By Francesca Gosling

Singer Jose Feliciano has confessed that his festive hit Feliz Navidad has sometimes felt like an “albatross around my neck”.

The cheesy Christmas tune has become one of the Puerto Rican musician’s best known tracks since its release in 2004, despite a career in music spanning more than 50 years.

More than a decade later, the 72-year-old admitted that he has not always appreciated the song’s success.

Asked if he enjoys hearing it replayed on the airwaves, he told the Press Association: “I more than enjoy it, I am grateful to it.

“There are times when it has been like an albatross around my neck, because TV shows would wait until Christmas to call me for a TV show (appearance) and it’s always just to sing that song.

“It made me think people are really limited in what they know about me.”

Feliciano told how he had enjoyed a much more positive project while working on a new album and UK tour with British artist Jools Holland.

“It’s as if I met Jools years ago – we are like brothers,” he gushed.

“I love his style and his zest for life. We are not just performing together, we really enjoy each other’s company.

“Last year, when I was on his show, he was nice enough to invite us to his house for some dinner and some good wine. We like the same music.”

Feliciano and Holland sang each other’s praises (EastWest/PA)

The record, As You See Me Now, sees the pair cover some of their favourite songs by artists such as Stevie Wonder and Lead Belly, and gives a “ska makeover” to Feliz Navidad.

Known for his music shows as well as his own releases, Holland, 59, said: “This has been such a (career) highlight. I think this will do me for a while.

“When there is somebody that you have loved their music for years, it really resonates. And then when you can be their friend on top of that, it’s even better.”

Holland’s Later … With Jools Holland show first aired on the BBC in the early 1990s and saw the star promote many up-and-coming artists – a tradition he aims to continue.

Commenting on more modern competition series, such as ITV’s The X Factor, he said: “The more music shows there are the better, and the people on them are lucky to be having their break.

Jools Holland performs at the BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park Festival in London (Ian West/PA)

“But the intention is a bit different now. (Modern shows) need a sense of jeopardy – whether it’s people crying because they made it through the competition or because they didn’t.

“We are not about that, we are just trying to get to the heart of what music and the artist is about.

“We have a lot more freedom to not have the constraints of the mainstream popular shows, that live and die by the numbers of people watching.”

:: As You See Me Now comes to stores on November 17 and tour information is available on the Jools Holland website.

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