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Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana is leader of Santana, a band whose music uniquely blends Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa, and African rhythms.
Carlos Santana - Rising Star (1:51)
Carlos Santana and his bandmates played Woodstock having never recorded an album.
Carlos Santana formed the rock band Santana, and is still revered as one of the most talented guitarists to this day.
Bill Graham convinced Clive Davis, a Columbia Records executive, to sign Santana.
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Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Santana and his band released a string of successful albums in their unique style. Notable albums of this time period included Amigos (1976) and Zebop (1981). During the 1980s, he continued to tour and record both solo and with the band, but his popularity began to decrease with the commercial audience's dwindling interest in the jazz/rock blend. Nevertheless, Santana earned critical acclaim throughout the decade, winning his first Grammy Award,
for Best Instrumental Performance, for the 1987 solo album Blues for Salvador. He toured extensively, playing in sold-out auditoriums and on tours like LiveAid (1985) and Amnesty International (1986).
Santana left Columbia in 1991 and signed with Polydor, releasing Milagro (1992) and Sacred Fire: Live in South America (1993). Though he ended his association with Sri Chimnoy in 1982, he remained intensely spiritual; this quality came through especially strongly during his live performances. In 1994, he played at the commemorative concert at Woodstock, 25 years after his band's transformative performance at the original festival. Under his own label, Guts and Grace, he released a collaborative album, Brothers, with his brother Jorge Santana and nephew Carlos Hernandez, that was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental in 1994.
Santana's phenomenal comeback on the pop charts began in 1997, when he re-signed the band with his first producer and mentor, Davis, then the president of Arista Records. Davis enlisted a roster of prominent musicians among them Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews, and Wyclef Jean to perform on the legendary guitarist's 35th album, Supernatural, released in 1999. By early 2000, the album had sold 10 million copies worldwide and spawned a No. 1 hit single, "Smooth," featuring catchy pop lyrics sung by Rob Thomas and Santana's Latin-spiced, electrically-charged guitar licks. Nominated in nine categories at the Grammy Awards including Album of the Year (Supernatural), Record of the Year, and Song of the Year (both "Smooth") Santana won in every category. With his eight awards (the award for Song of the Year went to Thomas and Itaal Shur, who wrote "Smooth"), Santana tied Michael Jackson's 1983 record for most Grammy Awards won in a single year.
Santana followed up his award-winning album with Shaman (2002), which received many accolades. He and Michelle Branch won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for the song "The Game of Love." Another interesting array of collaborators appeared on his next album All That I Am (2005). Santana worked with Mary J. Blige, Los Lonely Boys, Steven Tyler, and others on this album.
In 2009, Santana received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. He also debuted his own music review, Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas that same year. Santana also continues to take his music on the road, playing numerous tour dates each year.
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