SAN FRANCISCO In the midst of a yearlong hiatus from the road, veteran guitarist and bandleader Carlos Santana has recorded a new song with reclusive pop star Michael Jackson.
"I was very honored that he called on me to work with him, and I love the song," Santana said. "He gave me a call last week, and he was really happy with it."
A Jackson spokesperson confirmed that the track is intended for the performer's long-awaited new album. Jackson announced Monday that he will reunite with his brothers as the Jackson 5 and perform with Britney Spears, 'NSYNC and a host of other pop stars at a tribute concert to himself in September (see "Michael Jackson To Perform With 'NSYNC, Britney, Jackson 5").
Santana, in San Francisco to launch a new line of women's shoes and men's hats and neckties, said he has a few song ideas for the follow-up to 1999's nine-Grammy-reaping smash, Supernatural.
"I have a lot of sketches," Santana said. "The only thing I don't wanna do is repeat myself. I don't want to compete with it or repeat or duplicate or anything like that. ... What I usually do is clear the table completely and start like I don't know how to play. I grab the guitar and it's scary, because I convince myself that I don't know how to play. It takes a lot of courage to do it that way, because you're not coming in with a briefcase full of licks and everything else."
Santana greeted hundreds of fans who gathered in the women's shoes department at Macy's on Wednesday (April 18). The line of fashion accessories bearing his name includes neckties adorned with images from the Supernatural album cover as well as brightly colored mule shoes named Gypsy, an allusion to Santana's cover of Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen" decorated with spangled flowers and a vine-laden Paul Reed Smith guitar.
Other shoes are named for Santana songs or records, including "Smooth," "Maria Maria," Shango (1982) and "Jingo" (but no "Sole Sacrifice"). Hats for men are styled like those Santana wears felt fedoras, berets and Kangol-style caps bearing Santana logos, including the emblem for his Milagro Foundation, which sales of the items will benefit.
The foundation funds other organizations that provide services for children in the areas of the arts, education and health. Decked out in traditional Mexican outfits, members of Rondalla Alisal, a Milagro-funded youth music troupe, played "Corazon Espinado" for Santana, who got down on his knees to join them on conga.
Santana said he hopes his charity work will help in eliminating school shootings and other problems facing today's youth.
"It hurts me, man. It really, really hurts me the Columbines, the Santana School [shooting], it has to stop, and I believe in my heart that just like we stopped Vietnam, it can stop," Santana said. "Santana has entered that kind of center stage where Hebrew, Apache, Japanese, Palestinian, Mexican, they're all connected to Santana in a way that is pretty phenomenal. To introduce all these lines of colors, shoes and music it's all to create, like a spider, to create this web and not let people fall through the cracks. I'm not alone. Everybody I talk to musicians, Michael Jackson, everybody we all want the same thing: we want to heal this planet."