‘Africa Speaks:’ New Santana Album Kicks Off at Number 1 on the Latin Album Charts

Santana New Album
Photo Credit IG @carlossantana / On May 14, Carlos officially launched Africa Speaks (produced by Rick Rubin) with featured artist Buika in Las Vegas at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.

International sensation Santana released it’s 25th studio album, Africa Speaks, on June 22nd and according to Nielsen Music, the starting sum represents the biggest week for any Latin album in 2019! 

Born in Jalisco, Mexico to a mariachi father, Carlos was raised with music and instruments. At age five, he played the violin and by eight years old he was playing the guitar. As a group, Santana pulled influences from a variety of places to make its original sound of jazz, rock, African beats, and Spanish. During the time the group as forming artists like fellow Mexican-American Ritchie Valens and Black American Jazz musicals like Miles Davis were releasing music that inspired the groups’ blended sounds. He went on to create what we now know as the group Santana with other musicians. 

Santana is an international rock band that has been releasing music since its inception in 1966. Named after its leading songwriter and guitarist, Carlos Santana, the group has had several members throughout the decades however that has not stopped them from creating music that inspires, energizes, and challenges listeners to go beyond the ideals they may have about a given genre. 

A relatively unknown group they got their big break when they got the opportunity to play at the now-famous Woodstock Music Festival to an audience of an estimated 400,000 people in 1969. The group performed a 45-minute set of eight songs: five original and three covers. Arguably, the group’s covers of Nigerian drummer and performer Babatunde Olatunji’s Jin-Go-Lo-Ba and Black American singer Willie Bobo’s Evil Ways were one of their best performances. However, their performance of their original piece Soul Sacrifice is still watched heavily on Youtube to this day. Although the band was tripping on acid during the whole performance, they were incredible. Carlos recalled taking LSD right before their performance and thinking his electric guitar was an electric snake he had to tame. “I was making faces just to try to keep it from slithering so much.” His faces, ability to shred the guitar, and stay in tune with the rest of the band at Woodstock helped catapult the group to stardom. After Woodstock, the group’s first album named after the group, Santana, peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200.

Over the lifetime of the group Santana has gone Gold and Platinum several times and has been nominated for 42 awards and received 36 of them. 

Africa Speaks is the groups’ most recent release and it is full of black girl magic. Prolific drummer Cindy Blackman Santana accompanies the sultry, deep, and soulful voice of Black Spanish singer Concha Buika on all 11 tracks of the album. Before Cindy met and married Carlos Santana in 2010, she had her own prolific musical career.  She performed on 12 albums and is credited as being the woman behind Lenny Kravtiz’s sound and hits between 2004 and 2014. 

Concha Buika’s parents are from Equatoguinean, a country in the west Central African coast but she was born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Growing up as a Black woman in Spain had its hardships for Buika and as such she is very familiar with speaking about her experiences of joy, pleasure, and pain as a dark-skinned Black woman in a majority white country, Spain. Her voice carries the history of her parents – who were exiled from their native country — her experiences and the future she is creating every day through her masterful performances and existence. 

Buika has been nominated for a combined six Grammy and Latin Grammy awards one of which she won in 2010 for Best Traditional Tropical Album for El Ultimo Trago.

Africa Speaks merges the talent of these two women with the mystical sounds of Santana to create something all its own. With Buika on lead vocals, Cindy on drums, and Santana on musical composition, this album is like everything you would expect from Sanatana: beautiful and groundbreaking.