SUPERSTAR DRUMMER CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA
Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview with superstar drummer, singer and songwriter Cindy Blackman Santana, who discusses her career and new single FUN, PARTY, SPLASH that features her husband Carlos Santana, and was produced by Narada Michael Walden. She also discusses the new Santana/Isley Brothers collaboration POWER OF PEACE album that features her song ‘I Remember.’
The past few months have been a blur for Cindy Blackman Santana, who is currently touring and performing with her husband Carlos Santana, is featured as a vocalist, drummer, and songwriter on “Power of Peace,” the new Santana/Isley Brothers collaboration, and has been busy touring with her own band and recording tracks in the studio with the legendary producer Narada Michael Walden. Together through Walden’s Tarpan Records label they have released the new single “FUN, PARTY, SPLASH” featuring Carlos Santana.
Cindy Blackman Santana is a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock. As a bandleader and as a musician, Cindy is a sound innovator with a passion for pushing creative boundaries and exploring movement and change. She is as known for the nuances and colors she brings to her beats and fills as she is for the sheer power of her soulful playing.
Among a handful of the most innovative, original and influential artists of our time, Narada Michael Walden’s stature as an authentic musical renaissance man is a matter of record. Producing hits for Artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin (including the platinum “Freeway of Love”), Steve Winwood, Ray Charles, Sting, Elton John, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Mariah Carey, Barbara Streisand, Lionel Ritchie, Lisa Fischer, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones, Gladys Knight, and The Temptations, the EMMY and multi-GRAMMY winner (Producer, Album and Song of The Year) has been at the helm of hit music that spans decades.
Narada Michael Walden started his storied career as a drummer with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Narada’s music flows freely from pop, rock and soul, to the rarified realms of jazz, fusion, and world music. With Jeff Beck, Narada wrote and played drums on the seminal album Wired that earned them both their first Gold Album. Walden was an integral part of introducing Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey to millions of fans worldwide, producing and writing their breakthrough hits. Billboard Magazine honored him as one of the Top Ten Producers of all time.
Cindy Blackman Santana has been creating magnificent musical time and space since the beginning of her career as a busking street performer in New York City in the ’80s through the present day, touring the globe and making albums at the top of her game—including the critically acclaimed Another Lifetime (2010). In addition to collaborating onstage and in-studio with her own group—also known as Another Lifetime—she has toured and recorded with artists including Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Laswell, Joss Stone, Joe Henderson, Al B. Sure, Buckethead, Don Pullen, Hugh Masakela, Buster Williams, and Angela Bofill. Cindy was part of the Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Band called Spectrum Road with Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, and John Medeski. From 1992 to 2007 and again in 2014 & 2015 she was the drummer in Lenny Kravitz’s band, performing through multiple world tours and hit albums. In 2010, she was part of the all-star line-up performing “Bitches Brew,” a tribute to Miles Davis’ seminal album staged at the San Francisco Jazz Festival and NYC Winter JazzFest.
More recently, Cindy has become the regular touring drummer for Santana. Having met several years earlier at a festival in Europe while she was touring with Kravitz, Cindy first played with Santana in spring 2010, when drummer Dennis Chambers had a previous commitment. “They have a great band vibe. It’s nice to play with people who have grown together, built a sound together, and stayed together,” she says. “When that happens, you can create so many different levels of communication. That’s what they’ve done, and I love reacting with it and being a part of it.”
Electricity onstage generated chemistry offstage—Carlos proposed to Cindy during a July 2010 concert, and they married in December. Looking ahead, they will collaborate artistically as well, on projects that will no doubt reflect their shared passion for improvisation, and belief in the transcendent nature of music. Cindy was an integral part of the new Santana/Isley Brothers release Power of Peace, featuring the song “I Remember,” which she wrote and sings. “To me,” she says, “music is completely spiritual, it’s the way you connect with your higher self, with the universe. It’s also a way to share light with millions of people. They don’t need to speak your language, have your beliefs, or be in the same place you are. The music speaks, it channels good energy, and makes a difference in people’s lives. Carlos and I are both conscious of doing that.”
In 2016, Cindy connected with her fellow drummer and world-class producer Narada Michael Walden, and together the two have been working on new material ever since. Cindy Blackman Santana continues to build a body of work and artistic legacy that make her one of the finest drummers and recording artists of this or any generation. Keep up with her at www.CindyBlackmanSantana.com