In an intimate conversation that lived up to its name, Carlos Santana sat down with Billboard’s Leila Cobo on Wednesday (April 29) for the “Legends Q&A,” a highlight of the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Conference.
The 67-year-old guitar virtuoso and Latin icon (see also: Billboard’s 30 Most Influential Latin Artists of all Time) engaged industry insiders and music enthusiasts alike with personal anecdotes from his 40-plus years in the music industry. Interspersed with the music luminary’s stories were wise words about life, music and spirituality.
The Mexican-American legend is also being honored with the Spirit of Hope Award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards on Thursday in recognition of his humanitarian efforts with the Milagro Foundation.
Here are some pearls of wisdom that the remarkably zen Santana shared, ranging from the practical to the profound.
One of the audience members captured the sentiment in the room best: “I want to thank you, because you are a man with a message.”
1. “Everyone can make a miracle happen, not just the pope.” – on providing relief to countries like Nepal in times of need
2. “It brings together spirituality and sensuality — two words than I love.” – on what he loves about the guitar
3. “My mother lived with guts and heart. That’s how I play guitar.” – on one of his greatest influences
4. “The ’60s were such an experimental time in music. People have gotten synthetic these days. It’s like trading your soul for plastic.” – on today’s musical landscape
5. “Tu eres lo que eres por Dios, tienes lo que tienes por la gente (You are what you are because of God and you have what you have because of the people).” – on being grateful for success
6. “If you’re cynical, it’s the worst thing that can happen to a human being.” – on preserving one’s child-like innocence
7. “Now is our time. Latinos need to unite with respect and dignity, not the stereotypes like Scarface that Hollywood likes to show. That’s B.S.” – on the power of Latinos in media and entertainment
8. “Everyone should own a copy of Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain.” – on his favorite album of all time
9. “It’s absurd to call some countries third countries; we are all one people.” – on the power of a human race that stands united
10. “May the heavens open up and the angels bless each and every one with a deep awareness of your own light.” – on his final message to anyone wanting to pursue music and everyone in the audience