Santana strikes a chord with students from East Boston’s ZUMIX

Drummer Cindy Blackman Santana says that the music she plays breathes life into her soul every single day. It’s a spirit she and her husband, Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana, are trying to share with young people around the world. When Santana’s namesake band played Mansfield’s Xfinity Center Tuesday, they invited 30 low-income high school and college students from the East Boston nonprofit ZUMIX to come watch soundcheck, talk with the musicians, and see the show. The Globe chatted with Blackman Santana a few hours beforehand to learn more about that relationship.

Q. You’ve been working with Carlos’s nonprofit, the Milagro Foundation, to help low-income students gain access to your shows. What are your thoughts on the initiative, and how do you play a part in the foundation’s mission?


A. When the band was playing in South Africa last year, I had a dream one night. When I woke up in the morning, I just thought that we needed to find some children. Children from an orphanage, or from a children’s home, and we need to bring them to the show and try to inspire them. I presented the idea to Carlos, and he loved it. So with the help of a ton of people, we pulled off our first initiative in South Africa, and have now brought it back here to the United States. We team up with groups that provide kids with positivity through music. All these children we work with are the next generation. They are going to inherit the Earth, so it’s our duty to inspire them, to keep them physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.

Q. For your stop in Boston, you’ve partnered with ZUMIX, an East Boston nonprofit.

A. We just love that ZUMIX is dedicated to helping the world. They help underprivileged children and parents form a connection with music, and they just want to bring creativity to as many people as they can. They have classes that involve songwriting . . . performance classes, media technology courses, radio stations, and so much more. They take these young people out to perform at different kinds of shows too, so they’re really giving them a great experience with communal gatherings. That’s what music is, it’s all about communities and being social, because it’s one thing to perform alone, and it’s another thing to play with people.


Q. Why do you think music is such a crucial component to a child’s development?

A. It gives children a unique outlet, and helps them understand that they are significant, not only to themselves and to their families, but to the world and the bigger picture. It helps them grow mentally and creatively. This program helps people become incredible community leaders and community participants. It helps them be great people, who are doing something positive. Music is medicine for the soul.

Chris Triunfo

Interview was edited and condensed. Chris Triunfo can be reached at christian.triunfo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @triunfo_chris.