By Lynette Carrington
It is not every day when the true love and passion of one’s work flows so easily in conversation, but sometimes the phenomenon is supernatural. Vocalist Andy Vargas was born into music and has taken his own career evolution into a higher plane of consciousness. Vargas musically diversifies himself - embracing every role with passion and truth. The singer vocally fronts iconic band Santana, lead by his own hero, guitarist and legend, Carlos Santana, and also infuses his own unique style of music into his very own Souleros Records.
A Home of Music and Performance
The path of Vargas is one paved with talent, respect, intuition and humility. His father, Javier Vargas is a talented singer in his own right, and was highly influential on his son. “It was definitely the foundation for all of my future music inspiration,” Andy Vargas says. “My dad playing music at our house and going out and watching him perform was definitely the core of my inspiration.”
Vargas continues, “I would always sing along with my dad, and then what would happen was I would get up and sing for my cousins. So every family gathering, they would always want me to get up and perform. We’d always have these little shows. Finally, my dad would take me out with him while he was performing at fairground festivals. That happened when I was seven, eight and nine. I would sing cute little songs, but it helped me overcome my fear of audiences.”
“My dad is a vocal instructor, so he instructed me. We studied together,” Vargas explains. “Then, I went for piano training and I learned guitar from my dad, by learning songs.”
Music was part of everyday life for Vargas, but he knew that there was something big out there for him. “I knew I would have to actually branch out and go out into the world and seek my dream of becoming a recording artist, which is what I really wanted to do.” He recalls going out on a Christmas Eve one night, looking at the moon, and wishing on his dream. That dream began to manifest itself in the form of legendary guitarist, Carlos Santana, one of Vargas’s idols.
Fade in to View… Carlos Santana
Shortly after the release of Santana’s monster album, “Supernatural” in 1999, that Christmas Eve wish started to come true. “I was a recording artist with RCA BMG, and I had signed with them at the age of 17. What ended up happening was the that Carlos had recorded the record, ‘Smooth.’ The single had taken off and they were auditioning someone to join the band to help lead and perform the vocals.” Through his managers Lou Adler and Terry Melcher, Vargas was put in front of Carlos Santana and as they say, “the rest is history.”
Vargas has been fronting Santana for nearly two decades and has been on 20 world tours with the band. Additionally, the band has a long-standing residency. “Every three months, we go play the residence at House of Blues Mandalay Bay,” says Vargas.
Carlos Santana once served as a hero and idol to Vargas, and has proved to be a mentor of the most humble nature. Vargas states, “Carlos’s passion for music is definitely what I pick up on. His passion is everything to him and his music is everything to him. It’s very important - How to tour, how he holds himself, how he speaks, how he plays music and how he feels music. I learn about it every day. You can always go deeper.”
Vargas founded his own label, Souleros Records, in 2015 as an extension of his musical creativity. The music itself is a fusion of R&B, Latin funk and Spanish ballads – a “Chicano Soul,” if you will. “It is an independent label, brand, culture, sound and style of my music,” says Vargas. “We released a few singles last year and we’ll continue to release music throughout this year.”
Down the road, Vargas hopes to sign on some additional artists with Souleros. “In the future, we definitely hope to grow and expand. As of right now, it’s a home for my own solo projects,” Vargas states.
“We’re gearing up for the release of our next few singles, as well as shows and tours throughout California and the West Coast,” says the singer. “There are some plans for some possible overseas touring and that will all be done when I’m not touring with Santana.”
Juggling his own musical efforts with those of the ongoing residence of Santana sounds like it might make for a crazy schedule, but Vargas takes it all in stride. “It’s about just consistently working,” Vargas says with a little laugh.
Even today, there are musical influences that continue to inspire Vargas. “My favorite vocalists are Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, and Anita Baker is also one of my favorites of all time,” he says. “Classic soul singers are my favorite.” He also singles out Michael Jackson as someone with whom he would have loved to collaborate. Another collaboration he would love to pursue, is something with his longtime friend, Fergie.
The musician started his own organization, The Andy Vargas Foundation, that works to inspire at-risk-youth to make better life choices. His foundation pairs young adults with mentors in areas of strength, desire and education.
“We’ve been collaborating with other foundations and helping them through an outreach, bringing attention, helping them with fundraising where possible, assisting with presentations and helping them wherever needed,” says Vargas. Some of the groups he has worked with include Padres con Cancer, Learn for Life, Operation New Hope and various schools. “We had a fundraiser honoring Carlos Santana in Las Vegas, with George Lopez and Eva Longoria. That was a lot of fun.”
He is continually devoted to causes for kids and mentoring and inspiring them to reach higher. “Wherever there is a block, we can always succeed over it.”
Vargas finishes by saying, “I wish everyone who reads this love, light and hope.” Learn more about Andy Vargas at www.andyvargas.com.