Carlos Santana speaks: Exclusive!
Carlos Santana released Supernatural a decade ago and in celebration of the multi-Grammy-winning album's 10th anniversary re-release, Santana phoned SheKnows for an exclusive one-on-one with a Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame member and musical master.
Santana is a unique artist who has bridged audiences not only by joining the world in the universal language of music, but also through bringing a multitude of cultures alive in his music. Santana has introduced millions to the musical magic of the entire globe.
The new Supernatural: Legacy Edition features the smashes Smooth with Rob Thomas and Maria Maria, but also seven previously unreleased tracks. Even though Supernatural earned Santana nine Grammys in 1999, his legend and impact on the globe had been certified decades prior.
Santana was born in Mexico, just miles from San Diego where yours truly resides -- a fact not lost on this reporter. Carlos Santana, as seen by residents of Mexico and Southern California, is not only a musical icon, but also an ambassador for internationalism who has been bridging borders for decades.
Carlos chimes in
First of all, I have to ask, was the guitar the first instrument you picked up?
Carlos Santana: No, it was the violin!
SheKnows: I wondered! And how long did that last?
Carlos Santana: Fortunately, let's see, from '55 to '59.
SheKnows: And how then did the guitar pop into your life?
Carlos Santana: Well, my dad did play guitar on the side, but he made me play violin and he taught me the foundation. I was in Tijuana at a certain time where my mom took me to the park and there was the first electric band that I heard. This guy had a tone like BB King and Michael Bloomfield.
For me, hearing the electric guitar for the first time was like seeing kid see a whale for the first time, or a flying saucer! I was like "Oh my God." Just the way the guitar sounded bouncing off trees and cars and churches and the sky, it was like, "This is who I am. This is what I want to do."
Parental passion proved prolific
SheKnows: And did your parents encourage that passion right away, or was it something you had to plead with them for a while?
Carlos Santana: Oh they immediately encouraged it because knew that my eyes were very bright and they just knew I had a naked joy. You know, everyone in this planet has a forgotten song that once you remember it, you get twice the energy, all of the sudden gravity doesn't mess with you anymore. Problems don't mess with you. You don't wake up every morning like a victim or a villain or self defeated by sabotaging your joy. To me, it gives me joy with the supernatural, and the next one and the next one, and the first one, to do the same thing. To remind people of that forgotten song in them that inspires them to do beyond what they think they can do.
SheKnows: And when you are going back over your catalog for whatever project you're working on, what strikes you the most, the breadth of the material, discovering musical nuances that you hadn't noticed the first time?
Carlos Santana: It's the same song, over and over in different forms. You know, I grew up listening to BB King and Tito Puente, and Miles Davis, Bob Marley, all that and Coltrane, of course. And at the same time, I grew up watching Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Cesar Chavez, and Bobby Kennedy, and it all became the same. I have become those people that I love.
SheKnows: That's beautiful. When you were first starting out, were there any pressures or any discouraging natures from record companies, specifically, to not necessarily embrace the diversity of us all?
Carlos Santana: No, to me, Clive Davis was always very clear. If you played this kind of music, you won't be on the radio, and if you're happy with that, that's OK. But if you play this other kind of music, you will be on the radio and your message will be to even more people. People paint with ignorance this crossroad of going to the crossroads and you wait for the black cat, and you wait for the full moon and you make a deal with the devil. All that stuff is such bulls**t, because that stuff doesn't exist. Really what exists is that you are made of light and love and then you have choices.
Up next...Carlos describes what it was like when he first heard his music on the radio!