After 45 years as one of the world's greatest guitarists, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Carlos Santana returned to his Mexican roots with his first All-Spanish CD and an all-star concert special performed in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The ten-time Grammy award winner appeared at The Hudson Theatre in Manhattan on April 16th to preview the "Santana: De Corazón" half-hour special which airs April 21 on HBO Latino. The "Santana-Corazón: Live from Mexico, Live It to Believe It" concert, which was taped last December, will be broadcast May 3 in America and simulcast in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The concert features performance by Gloria Estefan, Juanes, Chocquibtown, Lila Downs, Elan Atias, Miguel, Fher Olvera of Maná, Niña Pastori, Samuel Rosa of Skank, Romeo Santos, Soledad, Diego Torres, his son Salvador Santana, and his wife Cindy Blackman Santana. Most of these artists are also featured on Santana’s first ever all-Latin music album Corazón which will be released May 6.
In the special, all the artists expressed their sincere love for Santana's creativity and humanity. Estefan said, "I admire Santana as a successful Hispanic artist who inspired us." Miguel was thrilled to perform with Santana and was full of joy recalling being introduced to his music as a child. "I used to listen to 'Evil Ways' in my father's car," he remembers. "Santana unites people around the world with different flavors of music."
Santana's music is extremely diversified, and in the special, he reveals his primary influence is from Africa. "African music is natural to me," he says. "I want my music to make people dance." He is extremely grateful to those who mentored and inspired him, including Clive Davis who attended the screening. Davis launched his career on Columbia Records in 1969, and also served as executive producer of his 1999 landmark Supernatural CD which won nine Grammys including Album of the Year. Santana also expressed his admiration for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and the late concert promoter Bill Graham.
The legendary 66 year-old musician has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. He is one of only two artists in history (along with the Rolling Stones) to hit the top ten of the Billboard album chart in every decade beginning with the 1960s. As he prepares to release his new Corazon CD, Santana will kick off on an 18 city American tour with Rod Stewart on May 23 and will also perform solo dates throughout the year.
In the HBO special and also in his live remarks at the Hudson Theatre, Santana consistently left his indelible trademark as a humanitarian. "Music is not show business," he preached. "Music is to heal. Music is about love and peace. Love is the answer. Live for integrity. Shape the consciousness of the world. Musicians must have fun and believe we can achieve what seems impossible."
He also stated, "Musicians have to have a willingness to create miracles. I want to be like Bob Marley and Michael Jackson and connect with people in every way using music to unify people."
For the past 16 years he has aspired to achieve miracles through his Milagro (milagro means "miracle" in Spanish) Foundation which funds youth organizations around the world. The organization has provided millions of dollars in grants to 35 nations around the world. Eleven beneficiaries of his charity, child musicians from the Little Kids Rock program in the Bronx, paid tribute to him at The Hudson Theatre with a moving performance of his classic "Black Magic Woman." 300,000 young people have received instruments courtesy of the Milagro Foundation, and following the performance, the children presented Santana with a guitar signed by 300 of those students.
Santana's words to the children, and to everyone who enjoys his music, is message of motivation. "Imagination is a muscle that your mind goes to the gym to develop," he says. "With imagination, then you can live happy. Dance in your own light and do the impossible. When you're climbing, keep climbing and don't let anyone bring you down. The only person who can bring you down is yourself."
As Santana spoke within walking distance from the United Nations, his mission as a musical ambassador was clear and focused.
"I want to do what the United Nations and the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu and Barack Obama could not do, bring people together in peace through music," he said with determination. "When there is conflict, we will play music. Music can heal the world. Following Sri Chinmoy and Jimi Hendrix, it is about the power of love, the power of music. I learned from the Black Panthers, the Kennedys, and Martin Luther King Jr., utilize music to create peace."