Salvador Santana lives with a vast vocabulary of musical genres. The 33 years young keyboardist, vocalist, composer, and songwriter began playing the drums at the age of three; while sitting in his father’s lap he’d control the snare and the tom, while his father worked the hi-hat and kick drum. His true love, however, was discovered when he began taking piano lessons at six years old. His multiple musical influences guided him to the heralded Ruth Asawa High School of the Arts and then to California Institute of the Arts as he continued his artistic education. His study, passion, and lineage have turned Santana into a versatile musician, often drawing comparisons to artists such as Common, Macklemore and Ozomatli.
Music truly runs in his veins, evident in the legacy of accomplished musicians that came before him. His maternal grandfather was blues pioneer Saunders King, and his paternal grandfather was the internationally celebrated violinist and mariachi bandleader, Jose Santana. His father, Carlos Santana, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and artistic entrepreneur. Salvador has soaked in as much knowledge as he could from the blessings of his musical background, including co-writing the Grammy-winning “El Farol” from the 1999 smash album Supernatural – winning his first Grammy in 2000 for that composition was an explosive start to Salvador’s career.
Since Cal Arts, Salvador has performed in clubs, and at venues and outdoor festivals across the United States and Europe. His talents have graced stages from the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival, the High Sierra Festival, South by Southwest and the acclaimed New Orleans Jazz Festival. Salvador has participated in projects outside of his own solo aspirations, such as the Hymns for Peace DVD released in 2004 as well as Santana’s 2013 Corazón Live in Guadalajara DVD.
On his solo CD, Keyboard City (released in February 2010), Salvador collaborated with an eclectic mix of artists, including Bay Area MC/producer, Del the Funky Homosapien, who ended up playing an important part in honing and inspiring Santana’s songwriting abilities. Producer Money Mark inspired Santana in a beautiful way throughout the process of writing the album, while GZA, the legendary founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, was featured on a remix of the title track “Keyboard City” (later remixed by Dan Deacon). It is this diverse meeting of the minds that demonstrates Salvador’s magnetic ability to connect to every kind of artist on a truly dynamic level.
In 2013 Salvador released Rise Up, a six song EP that featured his signature upbeat tempos and encouraging messages strewn throughout. A highlight from the release is the title track, which was featured in the award-winning film, School of My Dreams, a documentary about the Daraja Academy in Kenya, a free all-girls secondary school. In fact, it was a trip to South Africa with Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA), and a meeting with President Nelson Mandela, that triggered Salvador to write the positive message and music of “Rise Up.”
2015 brought the full length release of Fantasy Reality featuring 12 tracks that vary in subject matter yet all with the common thread of his conscious and uplifting music at their core. The title track as well as the album were inspired by Walt Disney’s quote, “When we do fantasy, we must not lose sight of reality.” For Salvador, “Fantasy Reality is a marriage between the juxtaposition of gritty and raw music with haunting themes and melodies combined with very positive and empowering lyrics and messages.”
Although his keyboard playing is front and center throughout, Salvador has teamed up again with female vocalist Alex Nester, solidifying the message delivery on these lyrically driven tracks. The blend of Nester’s smooth soulful voice mixed with Santana’s inspired raps has again delivered a winning combo as they did on Rise Up.
For the keyboardist, making music is never about personal glory, but about lifting people up with humility, love, and positivity on a daily basis. “The main ingredient to my inspiration and creative drive is joy. I want to use music in a positive way and give back to people in need. There can never be enough people who do that.“
go to: salvadorsantana.com