Carlos Santana has re-recorded his classic interpretation of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” with help from over 20 musicians around the globe, including Cindy Blackman Santana, Becky G, Tito Puente, Jr., Rubén Rada, Tal Wilkenfeld, Chouloute Minouche, and Jose Valdés Terán.
The song was produced by Playing For Change co-founder Mark Johnson as part of the organization’s Peace Through Music event in partnership with the United Nations to support social justice and the rights of Afro descendants.
“This song is so full of positive energy and soul that it makes people feel joy and that’s one of the best things music can do to change the world,” Johnson says. “When we feel the love we have more to give and a deeper connection to our shared humanity. The time is now to unite as a human race and music is the best tool we have to make that happen.”
Puente wrote “Oye Como Va” in 1963 as a B-side for his album El Rey Bravo. “The tune was written and composed by him and he wanted a nice cha cha cha that is danceable and easy to sing,” Tito Puente Jr. says. “‘Oye Como Va’ has endured the test of time and continues to bring people together to dance and sing together, around the world.”
Santana brought the song to a new audience in 1970 when he covered on it his LP Abraxas. It was a hit all across the world and has been a key part of his live repertoire over the past half century. Past Playing For Change videos have centered around other classic tunes from that era like “The Weight,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “When The Levee Breaks.”
“All our past Playing For Change recordings and videos shape our new songs around the world because we are always meeting new musicians and learning new ways to connect the world through music,” says Johnson. “One thing we’ve learned making these Playing For Change songs around the world is that no matter how many things in this life divide us, they will never be as strong as the power music to bring us together. One heart and one song at a time.”
Tito Puente died in 2000, but his son feels he would have loved this new take on the song. “He would be honored, as am I,” he says. “The song has always been close to the Puente Family and he would want to see the people of this planet still dancing to his music over 50 years later.”