This past Monday, 39-year-old Jovany Tavarez from the Bronx got a taste of guitar great Carlos Santana’s own handiwork when he was able to take home a custom Paul Reed Smith guitar signed by the master himself. No, there was no “Black Magic Woman” to thank for the feat — Taverez was the lucky winner of a contest held by the New York Daily News‘ Viva publication, a Latino lifestyle magazine.
Tavarez, a social worker, participated in Viva’s contest (which HBO Latino co-sponsored) along with nearly 800 other entrants and became the sole victor on May 5. His prize package includes the instrument itself, a custom Paul Reed Smith guitar emblazoned with Santana’s face on the body with psychedelic and traditional Latin-inspired artwork decorating it. Santana’s signature lies just near the guitar’s volume knobs.
For the past five years, Tavarez has worked at the Jewish Child Care Association, where he works with children and young folks between six and 21 who have mental disturbances. When asked by Viva how he reacted to the news of his contest victory, Tavarez exclaimed with glee, “I feel joyful, excited, and surprised. I would have never thought that I would have won!”
The contest was strategically timed with the release of Santana’s latest album, Corazón, the guitarist’s very first collection of all-Latin recordings. The album is out now, and though it might surprise fans, is actually Santana’s first venture into completely Latin music, with each of his previous 21 albums featuring myriad styles of rock and roll, blues and even folk. Santana has been performing and recording music since 1966, when he was only 19 years old.
“I can’t say enough about Paul Reed Smith,” says David Locke, President of LAWK STAR Guitars, which was recently recognized as one of the Top 100 musical instrument retailers in the world by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). “Santana was one of the first people to get behind this company and really promote the brand. He was an early believer of Paul Reed Smith, and what he was doing. The man who won this guitar is one lucky guy.”
Santana has also been making the touring rounds, popping up to support Rod Stewart in a Las Vegas show earlier this week. The pair ripped through “I’d Rather Go Blind,” the song Stewart made famous in 1972, five years after Etta James recorded it herself. It was all in preparation for a co-headlining tour between Stewart and Santana poised to launch May 23 in Albany, N.Y. The tour goes until the end of August.
Only 1,100 of the limited edition autographed PRS guitars were manufactured, making Tavarez’s new toy quite the valuable piece of instrumentation.