John Santos

John Santos


Five-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and US Artists Fontanals Fellow, John Santos, is one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. Born in San Francisco, California, November l, l955, he was raised in the Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean traditions of his family, surrounded by music. The fertile musical environment of the San Francisco Bay Area shaped his career in a unique way. His studies of Afro-Latin music have included several trips to New York, Puerto Rico, Cuba,

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What do you do now? Has your art evolved or changed?

It was a vote of confidence that gives a certain validation to one's work and lifelong passion. It is very easy for an artist to feel that you are singing in the shower and no one is listening. A strong feeling of joy and gratitude accompany the news of a Fellowship.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an emerging artist?

The more I learn, the less I know. Perhaps my art has changed from the perspective that I am always trying and hopefully succeeding to improve technically and preparation-wise. And of course, life experience always colors one's work. But the basic direction and foundation of my work remains the same.

Briefly, how would you describe the state of the arts locally, as well as national and beyond?

Understand the precious and powerful nature of art.

Priceless, urgent, desperately needed, threatened.


  • John Santos - Improvisation with Rhythm and Melody