Salsa Artist of the Week: Cheo Feliciano

Posted on almost 10 years ago

Salsa Biography : Cheo FelicianoAt just 20 years old, the "bandboy" for Tito Rodriguez was invited to the stage to sing. With the songs "Chang t ven" and Barito", he left the crowd of all of New York's best dancers in awe. This is how Jos "Cheo" Feliciano Vega first became known publicly, though his musical development had been long in progress. He began in a school of music in Puerto Rico, and then continued to study music when his family moved to New York in 1952. Inspired by artists like Frank "Machito" Mon Rivera, Tito Puente, and Tito Rodriguez, Cheo took a special interest in the percussion instruments, though he would eventually be most famous for his voice.

Cheo went on to join Joe Cuba's sextet. With the sextet for a decade, Cheo sung many of the sextet's now famous songs, such as "Salsa y bemb", "Callejero", "Cachondea", "A las seis", "El ratn" (see below), and "el pito", which was used in a Coca Cola ad.

In 1967 Cheo Feliciano went solo. During this time he sang "Busca lo tuyo" on Eddie Palmieri's album (Champagne, 1968), and appeared accompanied by Tito Puente, Machito, and other great artists. In 1969, Cheo returned to Puerto Rico with Kako Bastar's group, and ended up staying on the island.

It was at this time that he sought recovery for a long period of drug use. Cheo arrived at what he called "the bottom of the barrel" and was forced to make a decision: end his life, or change it. He decided to change it, and joined a recovery group. When he was healthy, he signed a deal with Fania, and made his comeback after 3 years, with the self-titled album, "Cheo". This marked a new period of his life, in which he created the successful songs, "Anacaona", "Pienso en ti", "Mi triste problema" and "Franqueza cruel".

What is Cheo Feliciano doing now? Well, on Friday (May 30) he will be singing at the LA Salsa Congress with The New Swing Sextet. We are looking forward to seeing him live and to dancing to sounds that have contributed to how we know salsa music today!

[Partial Source: Historia De La Salsa by Hiram Guadalupe Perez]
[Source: Cheo Feliciano Wiki]

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