Carlos Santana: An Overnight Sensation

2013 Kennedy Center Honoree
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Photo Credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Carlos Santana will join the likes of Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, among so many others as the recipient of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors. “The 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honors” will air on Sunday, December 29th from 9:00-11:00 PM PT on CBS.

A relatively unknown musician called Carlos Santana trekked across the country from his home in San Francisco to upstate New York during the summer of 1969 to play with his bandmates at a musical gathering known as Woodstock. His sound that fused Latin, rock, R&B, blues, jazz and African genres struck such a chord with seminal hits like “Evil Ways,” that the Mexican-American guitarist became an overnight sensation.

PHOTOS: 2013 Kennedy Center Honors

In reality, Carlos Santana had come a much longer way than the 3,000-mile road trip that took him to Woodstock. Born to a violinist father in the Costa Sur region of Mexico, the now 66-year-old spent his teen years playing strip clubs in Tijuana after his family moved to the border town before the lot headed north to the Bay area where he tried his skills as a busker.

Inspired by BB King and Little Richard, Santana’s first studio album stayed on the Billboard charts for more than two years and went triple platinum. However, it was his 35th album released in 1999 that earned Santa eight Grammy Awards. “Supernatural” put Carlos Santana in the same league as Michael Jackson for having won the most Grammys in one year. His first Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance was awarded for his “Blues for Salvador” album, released in 1987.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Carlos Santana once said about his distinctive sound, “You can cuss or you can pray with the guitar.” In proving his point, this virtuoso has shared his uncanny ability as a musical chameleon by playing and recording with some of the greatest, most diverse artists on the planet, including Herbie Hancock, Buddy Miles, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Mary J. Blige, Steven Tyler, Rob Thomas and Michele Branch.

Four years before becoming a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2013, Carlos Santana was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. With the band that bears his name, this undeniable artist has sold more than 30 million albums while his group has entertained more than 13 millions fans. It’s no surprise that this musical sensation who originally hails from south of the Mexican border has been dubbed one of the world’s most brilliant rock guitarists of all time.

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Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.

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