By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
The iconic musician Carlos Santana and his extraordinarily talented wife, the drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, joined the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) first virtual conference with a live interview.
Carlos, who delivers a level of passion and soul equal to the legendary sonic charge of his guitar, and Cindy, a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock, headlined an all-star lineup during the annual convention.
The two-day convention celebrates the 80th anniversary of the NNPA, the trade association that represents the media companies that comprise Black Press of America. It also marked the 193rd year of the Black Press of America, whose founders declared, “We wish to plead our own cause, for too long others have spoken for us.”
The convention also included live interviews and pre-recorded performances with superstars Stephanie Mills, Deniece Williams, Anthony Hamilton, Salt-N-Pepa, Supremes legend Mary Wilson, Ziggy Marley, Jemele Hill and others.
Viewers of the livestream were also treated to the very special preview of Cindy’s latest single, a cover of Lenny Kravitz’s Imagine.
Carlos Santana’s star arrived on the era-defining late 1960s San Francisco Bay Area music scene with historic shows at the Fillmore and other storied venues. The group emerged onto the global stage with an epic set at the Woodstock festival in 1969, the same year that its self-titled debut LP, Santana, came out, according to Santana’s bio posted on his website.
Introducing Santana’s first Top 10 hit, “Evil Ways,” the disc stayed on Billboard’s album chart for two years and was soon followed by two more classics – and Billboard #1 albums – Abraxas and Santana III.
More than forty years — and almost as many albums — later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won 10 GRAMMY Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project, 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”) as well as three Latin GRAMMY’s. In 1998, the group was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose website notes, “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights,” his bio states.
Among many other honors, Santana received Billboard Latin Music Awards’ 2009 Lifetime Achievement honor, and, he was bestowed Billboard’s Century Award in 1996. On December 8, 2013 he was the recipient of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Award.
Rolling Stone has also named him #15 on the magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” noting that “Santana’s crystalline tone and clean arcing sustain make him the rare instrumentalist who can be identified in just one note.” And, with the 2014 release of Corazón, Santana surpassed the Rolling Stones and is one of only two music acts in Billboard history to score at least one Top Ten album for six consecutive decades from the 1960s on.
“In the fall of 2014 Santana released his memoir ‘The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light,’ which offers a page-turning tale of musical self-determination and inner self-discovery, with personal stories filled with colorful detail and life-affirming lessons. It’s a profoundly inspiring tale of divine inspiration and musical fearlessness that does not balk at finding the humor in the world of high-flying fame, or at speaking plainly of Santana’s personal revelations and the infinite possibility he sees in each person he meets,” Santana’s bio stated.
In 2016, Santana reunited with the revered early ’70s Santana lineup to release an album entitled: Santana IV. The album debuted at #5 on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart, #2 on Billboard’s Top Current Chart, #2 on Billboard’s Rock Chart, and #1 on Billboard’s Independent Albums Chart. This album marks Santana’s fourteenth Top 10 album.
In 2017, Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana joined forces with The Isley Brothers (Ronald and Ernie) to release Power of Peace, an album celebrating the timeless sounds of funk, soul, blues, rock, jazz, and pop. Santana is currently headlining a multi-year residency at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.