LOS ANGELES – Twenty minutes before a big show, you'll find Andy Vargas in the green room doing three things: putting on all of his jewelry, using his essential oils for relaxation and calm, and then sitting down to call his three kids and say goodnight.
“I think I just connect to kids. There are a lot of kids that don’t have direction or mentors and need inspiration. That’s my goal,” said Vargas.
Vargas has been the lead singer for legendary rock band Santana for the last 20 years. When he’s not with the band selling out arenas across the globe or performing at their current residency in Las Vegas, he’s performing Latin soul songs with his own band, Souleros, at local spots all over L.A.
Music is clearly his life, and always has been.
“It was my outlet as a child and it still is. Music will always be there for you, that’s why it’s so important for me to be able to pass it on,” he said.
He does that through his own non-profit, the Andy Vargas Foundation. He started it four years ago to mentor underserved kids who strive for a career in the music industry, with friends and bandmates of his helping as well.
“Carlos (Santana) is very supportive the rest of the band, everyone partakes when they can,” he said.
The foundation provides youth with free community programs that include a music conservatory; music composition and production academy; and college scholarships.
“Some of our kids wrote about intimate moments in their life, depression, love and they got it out and got to hear it and feel good about it. Bullying, suicide, depression, it’s real,” he said.
Vargas was born in California, and now lives in Sherman Oaks. He likes helping kids here in SoCal, and performing for the place he calls home.
He'll be performing with Souleros this weekend at the 29th Annual Sherman Oaks Street Fair.
“This is the time for us to search deep and give the best that we have to the world. It’s a huge responsibility, being out in the public, a huge responsibility,” he said.
For Vargas, it's a communion of the three things that are second nature to him: music, the public eye, and using both of those to help children.