In an exclusive interview with ATM, the Hall of Fame rock guitarist discusses his 50-year musical journal, philosophy on life and self-fulfillment, and exploring African rhythms on his new album
Through talent and determination, a young boy from Jalisco, Mexico became one of the most internationally recognized guitarists of our time. Classic-rock veteran Carlos Santana discusses his rise to worldwide stardom in an exclusive interview for the August/September issue of AARP the Magazine (ATM), as well as celebrating milestone anniversaries, shedding his years of wisdom on others, and looking ahead to a future full of music and love.
After discovering his unique sound as a young musician, Santana’s career skyrocketed, finding commercial success with hits such as “Evil Ways,” “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” Decades later, Santana remains a household name across the globe.
This year marks a couple of milestone anniversaries for the musician – the 50thanniversary of Santana’s groundbreaking Woodstock performance and the “comeback 20th” commemorating the release of 1999’s Supernatural album, featuring the chart-topping song, “Smooth.”
At 72-years-young, the GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY®-winning artist continues to sell records, perform for sold-out crowds, create new music and dispense pearls of wisdom on others. His messages of love and healing are ever-present in his latest album, Africa Speaks, which delves deeper into his roots and explores African rhythms with the help of sultry Spanish singer Buika.
Santana’s passion for sharing his professional and personal path to happiness goes hand in hand with his mantra to “reinvent yourself every day.” On self-fulfillment, he shares, “Three things: your spirit, your soul and your heart. If you find those and you really find them, you’re going to realize that innocence. Those things don’t leave you and you don’t misplace them or lose them. Those are the ingredients for you to have a glorious existence.”
The following are excerpts from ATM’s August/September 2019 cover story featuring Carlos Santana, available in homes starting August and available online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/.
Selections from the Carlos Santana cover story in ATM’s August/September issue:
On the philosophy of being in the right place at the right time:
“It’s like everything in life right now; it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. The universe will bring you an abundance of opportunities and possibilities. It’s really all about trusting that before you got there, when you were sleeping, the universe was conspiring to give you something to blow your mind. Would you be open to receive it?”
On discovering his own sound at a young age:
“I wanted to sound like B. B. King and Otis Rush and all the people I loved. Go inside a closet, turn the lights off, and play, and try to sound like them. And then I didn’t sound like them. I sounded like me. I didn’t realize that it was a blessing, instead of a curse. But when I stopped trying to sound like somebody else and really paid attention to me, I heard that sound that goes through all people’s hearts.”
On how his music helps people:
“I know that we bring something to the four corners of the world. When you play music and can actually see people cry, and then laugh and dance at the same time, honey, that gives you confidence.”
On exploring African rhythms on his new album:
“I want to bring new African music to the mainstream because I think people need this nutrient, this ingredient, to learn how to dance differently. Music needs melody, rhythm and heartfelt sounds. There is too much synthesized music. Basically, it’s like the shopping malls in America—so much of it sounds the same.”
On advice he would give his younger self:
“Strip yourself naked from anything that anyone taught you about anything. And only listen to the voice of your heart, the voice of your light.”
On life with his wife Cindy Blackman Santana:
“When Cindy came in, we were so ready for each other. I’ve never had a partner where there are no issues ever, no drama mill, no issues about insecurity or someone with a laundry list of things I need to change. Nothing like that! We’re like two kids in a sandbox, and she’s got the shovel and I’ve got the bucket.”