When Carlos Santana graduated from Mission High School in 1965, he said the only option for a student who wanted to play music was the ROTC marching band.
The rock legend was very pleased to see that his alma mater now boasts a choir and guitar club.
“It’s incredible,” Santana said during a visit Monday to celebrate rising test scores and an 85 percent college acceptance rate at the school.
Cheers and whistles echoed through Mission High’s auditorium as Santana and his band prepared to take the stage for a greatest hits concert with student musicians. See a photo gallery of Santana playing for the students here.
After the choir’s rendition of “Maria Maria,” Santana jammed with a dozen members of the guitar club on one of his best-known songs, his cover of “Oye Como Va.”
“At first it was a bit overwhelming, because it’s Carlos Santana,” said sophomore Brandon Blanco-Chin, 16. Some students said that once they got onstage, their anxiety faded.
“When you play with him, you don’t feel that nervous,” said Zuola Guoerluoti, 17, a Mission High alum and San Francisco State University freshman who still plays with the guitar club . “He doesn’t take himself as a celebrity, just an artist — someone doing something he loves.”
That was the lesson Santana hoped to impart to students: find something you love and practice it until you’re great.
“We talk about profession and jobs,” he told the teens. “I never worked a day in my life, because I love what I do.”
Senior Allan Diaz, 18, still glowing with excitement after he played a guitar solo onstage, said he hadn’t been a big Santana fan, but that all changed Monday.