The Smithsonian National Museum of American History recognized the contributions of Grammy Award-winning musician José Feliciano to American music and culture during a naturalization and donation ceremony on Flag Day, June 14, in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony fittingly took place in the museum’s Flag Hall, which houses the original Star-Spangled Banner. Nineteen candidates for American citizenship from 17 countries took the oath of allegiance to the United States. Several candidates wore their military uniforms.
Feliciano is best known for his rendition of “Light My Fire” and the best-selling single “Feliz Navidad,” which was named to the top 25 Christmas songs of all time. Feliciano was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 10, 1945, with congenital glaucoma, resulting in permanent blindness. At age 5, Feliciano’s family moved to New York City.
Feliciano donated his Concerto Candelas guitar, built for him in 1967, to the museum. The instrument was used on his breakout album, “Feliciano,” which included his version of “Light My Fire.” He played this same guitar during his 1968 World Series performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He also donated the performance stool with which he toured and recorded for decades, the Braille writer on which he and his wife Susan produced documents and letters for many years, a personalized pair of sunglasses and an embroidered letter from one of his fans in Japan.
The naturalization ceremony concluded with Feliciano’s performance of the National Anthem.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the naturalization ceremony at the National Museum of American History by clicking on the photo icons below.