Growing up under the umbrella of famous parents is difficult for any kid. In Salvador’s case, he has two generations of musical heritage to live up to! His father, Latin rock guitarist Carlos
Santana is arguably the best-known, but not the only close relative with a colorful history.
Salvador’s mom, Deborah Santana, has made her mark as a poet and an author, not to mention her involvement in the Santana’s charitable organization The Milagro Foundation, as well as her obvious affect on the Carlos by Carlos women’s shoes line.
Deborah’s father (Salvador’s maternal grandfather) is Saunders King, a pioneer of the blues, and allegedly one of the first artists ever to put electric guitar on a blues record (1942’s “S.K. Blues”). Though he retired from active performing in the early ’60s, he did appear on Carlos Santana’s Oneness album, released in 1979.
On his father’s side, Salvador’s paternal grandfather, Jose Santana, was the mariachi violinist and bandleader that had such a powerful influence on the young Carlos Santana.
Though he incorporates all these threads into his own music, the result is simply a part of the tapestry. In fact, his sound owes more to the modern genres of hip-hop and rap than to Latin or blues styles. Incorporating his baritone voice on lead, band “gang” vocals, and funky rap, Salvador mixes it all into a laid-back, almost trance-like groove that is deceptively simple, but nonetheless compelling.
The Salvador Santana Band includes Emerson Cardena on bass, Woody Aplanalp on guitar and vocals, Tony Austin on drums, Quincy McCary on vocals and keyboards, and multi-instrumentalist Jose Espinosa on sax, flue, percussion and vocals. The group has been touring since 2004.
Growing Up Santana
As all Santana scions were encouraged to be musical, Salvador took up the piano at the age of five. And, though he has dabbled in other instruments (notably, percussion), the keyboard has remained his mainstay.
Salvador attended the San Francisco School of the Arts High School, and it was during his sophomore year that he collaborated with his father on “El Farol,” a track on the 1999 smash album Supernatural. Salvador’s presence is felt via the smooth, relaxed groove; it’s a good match for Carlos’ riffing.
SSB: The Album
Released in 2008, The Salvador Santana Band’s first album, SSB (an obvious acronym of the band’s name) produced one hit single: “Summer’s Day.” The song is emblematic of the album, a combination of comfortable hip-hop grooves, harmony supplied mostly by keyboards, and a vocal track that is a combination of rap and more traditional singing.
Not surprisingly, the album is quite current, drawing on Salvador’s famous forebears more for inspiration than actual musical examples. The two Spanish lyric songs — “Lo Que Digas Tu,” and “Menea” — have a more traditional Latin groove, albeit with a modern sound.
All in all, Salvador Santana shows promise as an artist for today’s market, and he certainly is not resting on the laurels of his well-known guitarist father. Carlos Santana has cause to be proud of his son!