Bluesfest is absolutely delighted to welcome Santana for a first ever performance at the Festival.
Delivered with a level of passion and soul equal to the legendary sonic charge of his guitar, the sound of Carlos Santana is one of the world's best--known musical signatures. For more than four decades—from Santana's earliest days as a groundbreaking Afro--Latin--blues--rock fusion outfit in San Francisco—Carlos has been the visionary force behind artistry that transcends musical genres and generational, cultural and geographical boundaries.
Long before the category now known as “world music” was named, Santana's ever--evolving sound was always ahead of its time in its universal appeal, and today registers as ideally in sync with the 21st century’s pan-- cultural landscape. And, with a dedication to humanitarian outreach and social activism that parallels his lifelong relationship with music, Carlos Santana is as much an exemplary world citizen as a global music icon.
Santana's star arrived in the era--defining late 1960s San Francisco Bay Area music scene with historic shows at the Fillmore and other storied venues. The group emerged onto the global stage with an epic set at the Woodstock festival in 1969, the same year that its self--titled debut LP Santana came out. Introducing Santana's first Top 10 hit, “Evil Ways,” the disc stayed on Billboard’s album chart for two years and was soon followed by two more classics — and Billboard #1 albums — Abraxas and Santana III.
Ever since, for more than forty years and almost as many albums later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won 10 GRAMMY® Awards, including a record--tying nine for a single project, 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”). In 1998, the group was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose website notes, “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.”
Among many other honors, Carlos Santana received Billboard Latin Music Awards’ 2009 Lifetime Achievement honor, and, he was bestowed Billboard’s Century Award in 1996. He has also been cited by Rolling Stone as #20 on the magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”—“Santana's crystalline tone and clean arcing sustain make him the rare instrumentalist who can be identified in just one note.” And, with the 2010 release of Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time, Santana joined the Rolling Stones as one of only two music acts in Billboard history to score at least one Top Ten album in each decade from the 1960s on.
Santana’s latest album, Shape Shifter (2012) is the first for his new label, Starfaith Records. The 13--song set is an instrumental tour de force long awaited by fans (only one song features vocals, by Santana’s lead vocalists Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay). The album also features Chester Thompson on keyboards, Dennis Chambers on drums, Benny Rietveld on bass, Salvador Santana on keyboards, Raul Rekow on congas and Karl Perazzo on percussion.
Carlos dedicated the album to Native American Indians, acknowledging Australia’s 2008 apology to the Aborigines, and President Obama’s signing of the 2009 Native American Apology Resolution. He says, “I encourage any and all countries (that have not as yet done so) to acknowledge the first people of their land, and make this a collective global effort.” Comprising mostly original compositions that Carlos has been setting aside for such a project, the album’s sequence is as thoughtful as its track selection—the songs flow together as the magical sustain of his guitar and the spirit behind every note makes music that defies all cultural and language barriers—the music of Santana.
A big welcome to Bluesfest – it’s an immense honour to have Santana grace the stage.
*Photo credit: Anne Bilham