For Salvador Santana, music is the family business. His father is the legendary rock guitarist Carlos Santana, and his uncle Jorge is best known as the leader of the Latin soul band Malo. Also, his paternal grandfather, José Santana, was a prominent Mariachi violinist in San Francisco, and his maternal grandfather was the pioneering R&B guitarist Sanders King. Spark visits with the next generation of the Santana musical dynasty to talk about stepping out from the shadow of his illustrious musical family as the leader of his own band.
Salvador started playing music at a very young age, quickly picking up percussion and guitar. When his father heard the 6-year-old Salvador playing piano to a Thelonious Monk record, he knew his son was destined for a career in music. Now a young man, Salvador is defining his own style of world music, combining jazz instrumentation with a Latin rhythmic sensibility and hip hop vocals. He and his band made their professional debut opening for his father’s group on its European tour in the summer of 2004.
For Salvador, sharing his father’s famous name can be as much a burden as an advantage in the hyper-competitive music industry. Though the Santana name may open record label doors, it also multiplies the pressure on Salvador, who has had to struggle to define himself as a musician in his own right. But Salvador isn’t worried: As long as he’s making music, he knows he’s exactly where he needs to be. Spark trails Salvador into the studio, where he’s been committing his own musical vision to tape, with plans to release a CD.
Salvador Santana has toured with the Salvador Santana Band throughout Eastern and Western Europe and Latin America. In addition to his own CD, he can be heard on his father’s 2005 release “All That I Am,” and on his mother Deborah’s audiobook, “Space Between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart.”