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Carlos Santana: Legendary Latin American Artist, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Rock, Jazz, and Pop guitarist Carlos Santana has established a reputation virtually unchallenged by any other Latin American musician.   From modest beginnings in his native Mexico, Santana steadily worked towards the creation of a new kind of Latin American sound, and his first great triumph was the appearance of his band at the legendary Woodstock rock concert of 1969.   Since then, Santana, man and group, has enjoyed an unparalleled career, accumulating multiple awards, many platinum and gold recordings, and selling more than 80 million records in the past four decades  (Slavicek, 2006, p. 6).   Carlos Santana irrefutably exists as an icon and a role model for Latin American artists everywhere.

Born in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico, in 1947, Carlos was taking lessons in violin and guitar by the age of five.  The family was not well-off, but not poor,  and Santana was very much born into music; his father was a mariachi violinist, and young Carlos often accompanied him to performances.   By 1960, however, it seems that his musical interests underwent a great change; the violin was given up, and Carlos, more and more attracted to the American music he was hearing on the radio, began to devote all his time to the electric guitar (Weinstein, 2009,   p. xi). Then, the family was moving to the larger arena of Tiajuana, and from there to San Francisco.  It was an ideal time for a young artist from a different cultural background to gain attention, as California was the center of the emerging Rock music industry.

Increasingly inspired by the new sounds and rhythms of what was happening in American music, Santana nonetheless never abandoned his unique, Latin American roots.   This would serve him well, particularly as those roots were, in a sense, perfectly positioned for the times.  American Rock was exploding and changing, and a great element of this change was a focus on ethnic music.  By the time Woodstock made its mark as the defining concert of the era, Santana was ready to establish himself and his band as the leading Rock/Latin American presence.  This single factor, that of remaining true to his background even as he has explored various other musical genres, has assured Santana of enduring status in an industry where so many musicians shift to accommodate passing trends.

With the steady rise in Santana’s fortunes and the continued gathering of awards, he turned to using his wealth and position to assist others.   In 2003, for instance, he directed that large profits from a world tour go to funding AIDS treatment and research in Africa (Hispanic Culture Online). However, it could be said that Santana’s work as a humanitarian is not confined to the charities he supports, because the reality is that his music has actually helped to bring various cultures together.   While there is no mistaking the intensely Latin American sound of Santana’s guitar work, which has itself become a cultural signature, Santana’s appeal has always been broad-based:  “Latinos, whites, blacks, Asians – the simple fact is all races ‘get’ this band and this man, whose music…is universal”  (Reno, 2005,  p. 252).   This was and is a part of his status as a groundbreaking artist, in that he transcended from the first the expectations that his music would only attract Latin American audiences.

As man and artist, Carlos Santana is typically described as a thorough professional, a dedicated musician, and a supporter of new talent.   His work and his influence have combined to present a Latin American image of solid integrity and absolute artistry, as well as one that has endured for over four decades.  If Santana himself was first inspired by the raw sounds of the American Rock of his youth, he has in turn gone on to become an inspiration.   By remaining true to his heritage, to his innate professionalism, and to his responsibility to evolve his art, Santana has, over long years, combated negative stereotypes of Latin Americans, and encouraged people of any ethnic minority to persevere.

References

Hispanic Culture Online.  Carlos Santana Biography. Retrieved from http://www.hispanic-culture-online.com/carlos-santana-biography.html

Reno, J. (October, 2005.) “Carlos Santana Comes Home Again.” San Diego Magazine, Vol. 57, No. 12.  p. 252.

Slavicek, L. C.  (2006.)  Carlos Santana.  New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.

Weinstein, N.  (2009.)  Carlos Santana: A Biography.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC.

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