Carlos Santana is a Mexican-American rock legend beloved the world over. And with new projects on the horizon, it’s worth looking at one of his most potent influences – his relationship with God.
The rocker’s career goes back more than 50 years, beginning in the 1960s. He’s been known as a singer, a percussionist, and of course – a guitarist. He’s spanned genres, such as jazz, blues rock, and Latin rock. Santana’s incredible career has seen him collaborating with such artists as Tina Turner, Rob Thomas, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Gloria Estefan.
Yet even with his charmed life, Santana is human, and he’s fallen into the traps of depression. Unlike some, who succumb to its saddening effects, Santana has risen above suicide, even after seven attempts on his life. He has Jesus Christ to thank for still being alive today.
Santana talked of his dark descent years ago in a 2000 article with Rolling Stone. The rocker has been living in the US since 1965, passing the citizenship test and moving to the country from Mexico. This was a formative year for Santana in another way, as instead of attending college, he decided to embrace a career as a musician.
By 1969, CBS Records had penned a deal with the multi-talented artist. Santana was working hard on arranging the perfect band, a feat he found difficult at the time. Once he found his musicians, they went on the road to perform at Woodstock. They had no album out yet, but they didn’t need one: the crowd went wild.
During his emerging career, Santana met his wife Deborah. By this point, he had released four albums and was a success. Santana and Deborah immediately connected over their musicianship; Deborah’s father is Saunders King, a beloved blues artist.
The two married in 1973, and were happy for decades. They raised three children. Deborah did more than just play the role of rocker’s wife, though. She’s also known for her social justice, advocacy, and philanthropy work. She wrote a memoir called Space Between The Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart.
It’s unsure what went wrong between her and Santana, as they officially split for “irreconcilable differences.”
Santana was crushed. The two had been together for nearly 35 years. In a short span of time, Santana grew suicidal. He took seven attempts on his life, yet thankfully, none of them were successful.
Then, he started attending church. Through the strength and guidance of Christ, Santana found he had more to live for. He was happier and more hopeful than he had perhaps ever been, and he had a fresh vigor for life.
It wasn’t only his divorce that he worked to overcome through Jesus and church. It was also old childhood wounds long since buried.
Growing up, Santana’s father, a musician himself, walked away from the family, leaving them in a lurch. Yet a family friend stuck around, molesting a young Santana on multiple occasions. He was forced into keeping the molestation a secret.
Those are deep wounds for anyone to overcome, yet with church, Jesus, and God, Santana found the strength to finally move on.
“I was able to remove the anger by forgiving that man…Forgiveness, man, forgiveness is incredibly liberating,” Santana explained in 2008 to Rolling Stone. “And I’m here to tell you, with all my heart and spirit, that it can be done. You can be freed.”
Santana also spoke to publication Plain Truth in 2011, where he expounded more on his newfound spiritualism. “You have to go through the darkest night of the soul to get to the brightest light of the day,” he said.
With such a longstanding history in music, Santana has changed course multiple times. Today, his concerts are more spiritual than ever, enough so that he once considered changing careers. Two years ago, in 2015, Santana had sought to close the book on his music career. He considered being a pastor instead.
He may have changed his mind, but God is still with him. There’s a 15-minute prayer break before all his shows, which he describes as akin to “a doctor washing his hands before doing surgery.”
Santana’s last studio album was 2007’s Djin Djin. Although it’s been 10 years since his last release, he’s been plenty busy. He’s the executive producer for Dolores: The Movie, which tells the story of social justice fighter Dolores Huerta. He’s also on tour in a city near you.
~ 1776 Christian