LOS ANGELES – Carlos Santana (search) speaks about the world like a benevolent visitor from outside it.
His views may be romantic and idealistic, but the guitarist is sincere. He was honored as the Latin Grammys (search) person of the year Monday for his dedication to education, the fight against AIDS and other social endeavors.
Santana, who won nine Grammys for his 1999 album "Supernatural," (search) talked to The Associated Press about his political views, his upcoming CD and how to absorb accolades without arrogance.
AP: How do you endure a night of praise like being named Latin Grammy person of the year without letting it go to your head?
Santana: I've been repeating for a long time that I am a beam of light that comes from the mind of God. That allows me, the more I say it, to grasp that I'm more than Mexican, or a human being. I am more than American or all the labels that we put on each other on this planet. Since I can definitely say that, like you, I am a beam of light that comes from the mind of God, then I don't have to squirm or interrupt people when they give me a compliment. I can say, "Thank you so much. And I'm very happy that my presence can bring joy into your life."
AP: You worked for free in 2003, donating the $2 million in profits from the "Shaman" album tour to combat AIDS in Africa. What motivates your charity work?
Santana: I'm very grateful that I'm in a position to be of service and give back. The people who I adore the most are Doctors Without Borders and (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mr. Desmond Tutu, people who just roll up their sleeves, they feed, heal or bury. They don't have offices and all these expensive cars. Whatever money you give them, it goes straight to medicine.
AP: Your Web site had a link encouraging people to vote. How do you feel about the American presidential race?
Santana: I don't really feel too good about asking anyone to vote at this time because I basically don't have faith in either one of the two parties. I would like it better if we had a woman president, seven of them, instead of one. ... American Indian, Mexican, Irish, African-American. We need seven women to really represent the United States more from an integrity perspective.
AP: What are your thoughts on world events, like the war in Iraq?
Santana: Peace has never come from dropping bombs. Real peace comes from enlightenment and educating people to behave more in a divine matter. I do envision a world where water, electricity, food and education would be for free in the next 25 years for everyone on this planet. That's the beginning of dismantling fear, anger and politics and religion. The real evil in this world is politics and religion. Spirituality is the antidote because it is free.
AP: Do you feel cynical about the state of America?
Santana: I think American people are beautiful people, I think our government is not by the people, for the people and all that kind of stuff. It's a group of corporations ... who want to tell you how much insurance to buy for the things that they make you afraid of. I pay my taxes, I obey the law, but that's not who I'm accountable to. I'm accountable to a higher force. Therefore, people honor me -- like this (Latin Grammy) award -- because I'm not shucking and jiving, slipping and sliding ...
AP: Back to your music then, why did you release the 10-track CD "Food For Thought" through the Baja Fresh Mexican Grill restaurants?
Santana: Helping children. Baja was committed to helping children. (The profits for that disc went toward Santana's Milagro Foundation, which provides health and education to impoverished youth.)
AP: How far along are you on your next album?
Santana: I'm working on seven albums. I'm producing an album for Mr. Buddy Guy. I'm also working on the new Santana album, which I will turn into my friend and brother Mr. Clive Davis. There's a possibility of new people contributing, like Los Lonely Boys, possibly Sting, maybe Sean Paul ... I have an instrumental album that I'm due to release sometime. It's like seven to 10 things that I'm working on, but I'm not confused or scattered.