It was a celebration of Santana’s career successes and achievements that includes over 90 million albums and CD’s sold world-wide, a boatload of Bammie Awards – (Bay Area Music Awards), ten Grammy Awards, and three Latin Grammy Awards. In 1998, Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Carlos and his wife Cindy Blackman Santana showed up early at school on Monday and stayed well past the mini concert they played before the whole school just before noon. Cindy is one of the best drummers around and she demonstrated that to the students with an incredible drum solo that had the kids talking in the halls as they went to lunch.
Before the assembly started, Mission High School Principal, Eric Guthertz had pulled together about 100 students from a real cross-section of the school that included honor students, physically and mentally challenged students, and some under achieving students to have an intimate conversation with Santana, his wife, actor Edward James Olmos, and film producer Peter Bratt. The messages of inspiration were straight-ahead and simple: “You are significant. You are meaningful and you matter,” said Santana. “The best is not ahead. The best is right now,” he told the students. “Enjoy it. Don’t hurt anyone. And live with supreme integrity.”
The music program started off with the newly re-instituted Mission High School Choir performing Santana’s “Maria Maria” from the stage. Three dancers interpreted the song in front of the stage and the entire student body cheered for them as they and the choir exited.
Principal Guthertz then introduced the Mission High School Guitar Club along with Carlos Santana who ripped into a wonderful rendition of the Santana instrumental “Europa.” Carlos would nod to the next student to take a guitar solo and everyone got some licks in with the master guitar virtuoso.
The ensemble that Santana put together for this special concert were the same band members who joined Carlos at last weekend’s Bridge School benefit down at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mt. View billed as “Los Invisibles.” Cindy Blackman Santana on Drums, Karl Perazzo on timbales and percussion, Dave Mathews on keyboards, Benny Rietveld on bass, Andy Vargas on vocals and of course Carlos Santana on guitars.
At the conclusion of the four song set ending with Santana’s most celebrated song “Smooth,” Carlos and a non-profit organization called Little Kids Rock, which Santana helped fund, donated 30 guitars to the Mission High School Guitar Club.
Santana’s return to Mission High School was a truly historic and memorable day for the students, faculty, and the entire Santana organization. Carlos is not one to forget his roots and his gift of music and inspiration to his old high school will never be forgotten by the school or the band.