Carlos Santana, was born July 20, 1947 in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico. He is a Mexican-born American musician whose popular music combined rock, jazz, blues, and Afro-Cuban rhythms with a Latin sound.
Santana began playing the violin at age five; by age eight, however, he had switched to the guitar. As a teenager, he played in bands in Tijuana, Mexico, where he was exposed not only to the local norteño music but to blues, especially to guitarists T-Bone Walker and B.B. King. Although his family moved to San Francisco in the 1960s, Santana returned frequently to Tijuana. Santana became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1965.
Influenced by the San Francisco Bay Area’s burgeoning rock scene, in 1966 he formed the Santana Blues Band, which came to the attention of rock music impresario Bill Graham. The band began performing at the legendary club Fillmore West, and, though largely unknown, it triumphed at the Woodstock festival in 1969.
Over the next two decades, however, the group’s output was more uneven—and less commercially successful. Santana became a born-again Christian in 1992. Meditation and mysticism became central to his life, and he began to see himself as a musical shaman whose pursuit of songs that offered hope and healing culminated in Supernatural (1999). Supernatural—crafted with the support of such notable collaborators as pop rocker Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, hip-hop luminary Lauryn Hill, fellow guitar legend Eric Clapton, and former Arista Records head Clive Davis—helped Santana launch an important comeback. In 2000 he won three Latin Grammy and eight Grammy awards—including album of the year for Supernatural and song of the year for “Smooth.”
Santana’s lasting contribution was marked by his group’s induction (1998) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was named a Kennedy Center honoree.