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Carlos Santana has been reinventing and reshaping the
landscape of the known universe's musical culture for close to four
decades. A visionary artist with no regards for genre boundaries,
Carlos' fluid sound long ago laid claim to the concept of "world music"
before the term ever surfaced on pop culture radar. Having evolved and
expanded for over four decades, the "Carlos" sound could well be on its
way to becoming interplanetary music.
Born in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico—where there's now a street and public square in his name--to the son of a virtuoso Mariachi violinist, Carlos followed in his father's musical footsteps, taking up the violin at the age of five. It was when his family moved to Tijuana several years later, however, that Santana began his lifelong relationship with the instrument that would make him a musical icon–-the guitar. Early on he emulated his heroes–-John Lee Hooker, T. Bone Walker, and B.B. King—who he heard on powerful American radio stations when their signals crossed the border.
In 1961, Carlos made the crossing himself, moving from his native Mexico to San Francisco. A few years later, he formed the Santana Blues Band there, and the cool, soulful riffs and rhythms of his Latin-blues based sound found an audience eager for his innovative musical ideas. Carlos and company emerged as giants of the era-defining Bay Area music scene of the late '60s, and their fame grew far beyond its parameters while their artistry remained true to its free-flying spirit.
Less publicized, but equally as profound as his artistic legacy, is Santana's long history of social activism and contributions time and funds to humanitarian causes. As a culmination of his decades of support for countless charities and non-profit agencies the world over, he and his wife of 30+ years, Deborah Santana, founded their Milagro Foundation in 1998. With over $1.8million in grants to date, Milagro supports organizations promoting the welfare of underserved children in the areas of health, education, and the arts.
More recently Santana has become deeply involved in the fight against the AIDS pandemic in South Africa through a partnership with ANSA – Artists for New South Africa. In 2003 he and Deborah donated all of the proceeds from Santana's American tour to the cause. Other organizations he has championed include Hispanic Education and Media Group, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Childreach, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, American Indian College Fund, Amnesty International, and the Los Angeles-based Museum of Tolerance.
Well into his fourth decade of recording and performing, Carlos Santana is at the pinnacle of his career, more vital and relevant than ever. He magnificently embodies both "old school" virtuosity and "new school" cool, continually reaching successive new generations of fans with his passionate music. His signature sound—fusing rock, jazz, blues, soul, Latin idioms, multi-cultural genres and more—is as unique as it is instantly identifiable. With his lifetime of music and achievement, Santana has become a cultural event-- transcending genre, crossing cultures–-creating the music that has become the soundtrack for the world.