A Q&A with the legendary Carlos Santana; photo by Jeff Gerew of C7 Photography
The interview starts simply enough.
“Hello, I’m calling for Mr. Santana.”
“Hi, this is Carlos.”
“This is Christine in Rochester. How are you?”
“Oh, happy to hear your voice, Christine. What’s going on?”
He is happy to hear my voice. I have no chill, and I’m freaking out inside. But believe it or not, I maintain a calm and professional demeanor until I blurt out, “My mom says ‘hi.’”
Yes, my mom is a Carlos Santana superfan as am I and my sister and my husband and my son and my brother-in-law… You get the picture.
“Thank you so much. I’m very grateful and honored. We offer our music for hearts of all ages,” he graciously replies.
I take a deep breath and continue the interview which is not actually about my mom’s appreciation of Carlos Santana but about his June 22 performance at CMAC, his second stop on his 1001 Rainbows tour.
The first question that I have for you is about 1,001 Rainbows. Tell me about that title of your tour.
Cindy [Blackman]—my wife—and I, we’ve been living in Las Vegas and here in Hawaii. I’m in Kauai right now. I mean, I really invite you to submit your requests to God, sweet baby Jesus, the universe, whatever you want to call it. Submit your request, and you must come to Kauai at least once in your life. Now all you see in Kauai is gimungous, incredible, breathtaking rainbows and waterfalls. People say, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, nobody wants to die.” However, when you are in Kauai, you’re in heaven. And you’re more alive than ever.
I’m very grateful. We’re very, very grateful. It’s our message in the music right now more than ever is to invite people to accept that you are destined for greatness. Santana doesn’t believe in promoting to our fans a victim mentality. No wretched sinners. We don’t believe in that stuff. We believe that we are worthy of God’s grace, and we can create blessings and miracles. We can do almost incredible things. With willingness, anything’s possible, with God nothing’s impossible. So, Santana, via the music, we bring a message to invite people to claim back your “lionness,” claim back your fearlessness. We are here to transmogrify fear. Every single human being on this planet, we are here to have victory over our own fear: collective fear, family fear, nation fear. There’s just too much fear everywhere, you know? When Santana plays, we bring a different kind of joy. There’s no fear when joy is around.
Yes, joy overcomes fear! What can we expect when you come to the Rochester area and you take that stage? You’ve been here seven times, and we’re so excited for your eighth time. What kind of joy are you bringing to us on this next visit?
The joy that celebrates, in a supreme way, your own light, your own divinity. We’ve been programmed and bamboozled and infected with fear because you’re not worthy of God’s grace, you’re a wretched sinner, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda. So, with that kind of mindset, it is very difficult and challenging to do anything positive and beautiful, because you’re really set to fail. So, we say, “No, you can keep that philosophy.” We honor and respect whatever you believe, but that’s not who we are. We believe that our god is not Godzilla. Our God is love…
Santana brings unity, harmony, oneness since the beginning, since Woodstock, that’s what Santana is. That’s what we bring. Unity, harmony, oneness.
Beautiful. We can’t wait. What brought you joy this very day?
I just opened my eyes and seeing the house that I live in gives me joy. That my love works, my heart works. Everything works in my body. My brain works. And so, it gives me joy to be a spirit, living in a body that is willing to climb the mountain and look at the aerial view, see the big picture, the grand design.
We were in the club that got out of bed today. That’s a good thing.
Yes, it’s true.
I’ve heard you talk about gratitude in your life. Tell me a little bit about how you use gratitude in your life and in your music to connect with spirit and to connect with your audience.
This is a great question. You know, this is like the question of questions. Because just like you need to [plug in your] media, your phone, your laptop, to get more data and more information, and more updates to your data and all that we need [to plug in]. Some people pray, some people meditate, some people do selfless service. For me, I use all of them, but the main one that I focus on is gratitude. Because as soon as I feel gratitude for my lungs, the next breath, for being able to make love, being able to taste food … you can make a whole list. And the more you’re grateful, the more you increase the magnetism for you to attract from the universe anything that you want.
Beautifully said. And this next one is one of those questions I just been dying to ask, and I hope it doesn’t sound silly. If you could play onstage with any musician in spirit or here on Earth, who would it be?
John Coltrane. Yeah, John Coltrane and Aretha [Franklin]. They both represent to me royalty and majesty. From this side of the ocean, I mean, in England they have Queen Elizabeth and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Here we have Aretha, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane. Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye. What we have here is royalty on a whole other level.
I just could talk to you forever. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about your upcoming tour that I haven’t touched on?
Yes, our upcoming tour is basically to promote a deep sense of self-worth …So that’s what Santana is about. We want to promote a deeper sense of self-worth so we can have more fun on this planet.