Could Carlos Santana’s next big collaboration be with the likes of Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga? The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer says it’s all on the table — in large part because he has built a cross-generational fanbase.
“Nothing’s outside the realm of possibility,” Santana tells NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain. “When I walk in the streets, people older than me, and people my age, and children say: ‘Hey, I love your music.’ So, it’s important to really honor the songs.”
Many of Santana’s newest listeners weren’t around for his volcanic performance at Woodstock in 1969, nor his charttopping albums Abraxas and Santana III in 1970-71. No, they know him from 1999′s guest star-packed Supernatural, which sold 15 million copies and won a total of nine Grammy Awards.
Inevitably, some of Santana’s older fans complained about the next-generation star power on that album, which included Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas, The Product G&B, Everlast, Lauryn Hill and Cee-Lo, among others. But he returned with the similarly themed Shaman in 2002, featuring Michelle Branch and Chad Kroeger from Nickelback, among others.
Santana tells Jain that he’s going to go his own way, even if that means continuing to collaborate with unexpected voices — and angering some of his hard-core constituency.
“I never listen to people like that,” Santana continues. “That would be like suicide. My hardcore fan has to be very transparent and very willing to be open, otherwise go listen to somebody else. Just because you buy my records doesn’t mean I’m your slave or your poodle. I don’t play music for you; I play music for your heart. You either like it or you don’t, but I am not going to be your slave.”
Santana’s latest project, last May’s Shapeshifter, a nearly all-instrumental project recorded over a period beginning in the late 1990s.
Highlights on the new album include “Angelica Faith,” co-written with keyboardist Chester Thompson, and “Mr. Szabo,” which finds Santana again paying tribute to Gabor Szabo. (Fans will remember the Santana band’s thrilling melding of Szabo’s “Gypsy Queen” with “Black Magic Woman” on Abraxas.) Shape Shifter closes with two collaborations with Santana’s son, Salvador.