Rudy Valdez Signs with Inspire Entertainment

Rudy Valdez is under new management…

The Latino Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker  has signed with Inspire Entertainment for management.

Rudy ValdezMost recently, Valdez served as director, executive producer and cinematographer of the six-part docuseries Choir for Disney+, as well as Carlos, the Carlos Santana doc from Sony Pictures Classics and Imagine Documentaries.

Both films were official selections of the 2023 Tribeca Festival, with Carlos earning a 2023 Critics’ Choice Documentary Award nomination for Best Music Documentary.

Valdez’s documentary short Translators, produced in partnership with U.S. Bank, also recently debuted as an official selection of LALIFF and the Tribeca Festival, winning the Tribeca X Award for Best Short Documentary.

The filmmaker’s breakthrough project was The Sentence, the HBO doc marking his directorial debut. Shot over the course of a decade, the film watches as Valdez unpacks the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s 15-year sentence for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend. Following its world premiere at Sundance 2018, where it won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award, the doc went on to win an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, also securing Valdez a nomination for Best New Director at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards.

Valdez is at the helm of Bluff Road Films, an independent production company focused on creating meaningful social, cultural, and political stories while championing equity both on screen and behind the camera.

Currently, the company is teaming with Inspire to produce the feature doc Places, centered on Pacific Northwest artist Ben Joyce and his personal journey to expand his horizons of art, people, and family. In addition to directing, Valdez is producing the pic alongside Jason Spire and Meghan Schale.

Founded in 2002, Inspire Entertainment is also known for its work on the hit Netflix pic Outside the Wire and Peacock/Sony’s video game adaptation Twisted Metal, which is currently prepping to shoot its second season, among other projects.

Sony Picture Classics & Trafalgar Firm Up Worldwide Release Plans for Carlos Santana Doc “Carlos”

Carlos Santana’s life story is going global…

Sony Picture Classics and Trafalgar Releasing have firmed up worldwide release plans for Carlos, their feature documentary on the 76-year-old 10-time Grammy-winning guitarist and musical icon.

Carlos SantanaThe film on the father of Latin American jazz fusion will launch in theaters in September with the three-day premiere event, Carlos: The Santana Journey Global Premiere.

In addition to the doc itself, the event taking place on September 23rd, 24th and 27th will spotlight exclusive introductory content featuring Santana and the film’s director, two-time Emmy winner Rudy Valdez.

The film will then launch into its general theatrical release on September 29th.

A guitarist who has cemented his status as a legend over the last 50 years, Santana continues to be one of the music world’s premiere artists, blending jazz, blues, and the Mariachi sound with a rock n’ roll spirituality and a sense of music’s primal connection to our deepest emotions. SPC’s doc will shed new light on his life and career by offering access to new interviews with Santana and family, as well as never-before-seen archival footage, including home videos recorded by Santana himself; concert footage; behind-the-scenes moments; interviews with such collaborators as Clive Davis and Rob Thomas; and more.

“Carlos Santana is among the elite musicians who has transcended decades and generations. From his performance at Woodstock to his 90’s epic album Supernatural —this documentary delves into his journey of becoming one of our greatest guitar legends. We are thrilled to be a part of this global moment in cinemas where fans can experience his life story and music together,” said Trafalgar’s SVP of Programming and Content Acquisitions Kymberli Frueh.

Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Carlos Santana from Pittsburgh Pirates

Things are brewing for Carlos Santana.

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired the 37-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and first baseman from the Pittsburgh Pirates, attempting to shore up a tepid offense as they try to hold onto first place in the National League Central.

Carlos SantanaSantana was dealt to a contender for the second consecutive season after going from Kansas City to Seattle last year. Long considered a clubhouse leader, Santana will fill in at first base for Rowdy Tellez, who, while recovering from a forearm injury, tore a fingernail on a chain-link fence while shagging batting practice. 

In exchange for Santana, who is hitting .235/.321/.412 with elite defense at first base, the Pirates will receive 18-year-old shortstop Jhonny Severino, who signed with Milwaukee for $1.23 million last year and is currently playing in the Arizona Complex League.

At 57-46, the Brewers have clawed back into the NL Central pole position despite scoring just 423 runs — three fewer than their top-notch pitching staff has allowed.

While a resurgent Christian Yelich has paced the offense, only one other season-long regular, catcher William Contreras, has an OPS above .700.

Milwaukee, which shipped closer Josh Hader to San Diego at the trade deadline last season and blew a three-game division lead, was expected to add players on the margins rather than go after bigger-name players.

Santana is owed around $2.5 million for the remainder of the season.

Severino hit .268 with a team-leading 25 RBIs in 48 games while playing in the Dominican Summer League in 2022.

Rudy Valdez Agrees to Overall Unscripted Deal with Imagine Documentaries

Rudy Valdez has a new unscripted partner…

The Latino documentary filmmaker has agreed to an overall unscripted deal with Imagine Documentaries.

Rudy ValdezAs part of the agreement, Valdez will develop, direct and executive produce new nonfiction projects for the studio through his Bluff Road Films banner.

The two-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker started his career as a camera operator on the Peabody Award-winning, Sundance series Brick City and went on to direct his passion project on HBO’s The Sentence.

Shot and directed by Valdez over the course of a decade, this feature documentary tells the very personal story of his sister’s plight in the criminal justice system, while tackling subjects like mandatory minimums and sentencing reform.

“It has been wonderful to work with Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes, and the entire Imagine Documentaries team through the years,” said Valdez. “They have entrusted me with telling a variety of stories and have always supported my vision and approach. This new partnership will allow us to continue to create inspiring projects together and for me to expand, not only in the stories that I am able to tell, but also in my efforts to create a platform that fosters new voices. Along with this new deal, I’m excited to announce the launch of my production company, Bluff Road Films. Steered by an intimate storytelling approach, my team and I will aim to amplify unheard voices. Having the support of Imagine as we ramp up our efforts and take on new projects is invaluable.”

His most recent projects include Sony Pictures Classic’s Carlos and Choir on Disney+.

Both projects are produced by Imagine Entertainment and will premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

Carlos, the definitive feature documentary of Carlos Santana, follows the artist’s lifelong journey from 14-year-old street musician to 10-time Grammy winning global sensation.

Choir is a six-part docuseries, following the Detroit Youth Choir after their star turn on America’s Got Talent.

“As longtime collaborators of the extraordinary Rudy Valdez, Imagine is thrilled to formalize our unique creative partnership with Rudy and further bolster his prolific documentary impact,” said Bernstein, president of Imagine Documentaries.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Worldwide Rights to Carlos Santana Documentary “Carlos”

Carlos Santana’s life story will be heading to a theater near you…

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the worldwide rights to Carlos, a new documentary about the 75-year-old Mexican guitarist, considered the father of Latin American jazz fusion.

Carlos SantanaA release date for the film directed by Emmy winner Rudy Valdez has not been disclosed.

Featuring never-before-seen or heard archival footage and music, Carlos offers an intimate and exhilarating look inside the mind of an elemental force of contemporary music and tells the story of Santana’s life – from a 14-year-old street musician to a 10-time Grammy-winning and three-time Latin Grammy-winning global sensation.

Imagine Documentaries and Sony Music Entertainment jointly financed the film, with Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes producing along with Lizz Morhaim, Leopoldo Gout, Ashley Kahn and Sam Pollard.

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard executive produced for Imagine Documentaries alongside Michael Vrionis and Tom Mackay & Richard Story for Sony Music Entertainment, with Meredith Kaulfers co-exec producing for Imagine Documentaries.

“Imagine is thrilled to bring the band back together and reunite with our partners at SPC on this magical journey with the legendary Carlos Santana and our director Rudy Valdez,” said Imagine Documentaries president Bernstein. “There isn’t a better team to inspire the world with Carlos’ extraordinary life.”

Commented Sony Music Entertainment’s EVP Premium Content Development, Sales, Krista Wegener: “We are beyond excited to be joining forces with Sony Pictures Classics to bring Carlos to the big screen. Our incredible partners, Rudy Valdez and Imagine, have created a stunningly beautiful portrait of Carlos Santana that captures his singular artistry and spirit. We can’t wait to share his story with audiences around the world.”

“I am honored and humbled to tell Carlos Santana’s story as a director. Carlos is a true trailblazer who has meant so much to so many people. My hope is that this film is a celebration of a life defined by humanity,” shared Valdez. “It was incredibly impactful to see someone who looks like me blow up the boundaries and expectations the world had placed on him as a Mexican immigrant and person of color, and I’m thrilled to be putting this story out into the world. I am also immensely grateful for the amazing team at Imagine Documentaries and Sony, who surrounded me through the entire process and helped me see this vision through.”

He continued: “The film could not have found a better distribution partner than Sony Pictures Classics. In their hands the film will have the opportunity to reach the masses and ensure as many people as possible get a chance to experience Carlos’ magic.”

Added Universal Tone Management’s President, Vrionis: “It is an honor to share the story of one of the world’s most iconic cusicians, Carlos Santana. His triumphant journey is the must-see event of the year. Partnering with Imagine Documentaries, Sony Music and Sony Pictures Classics was the perfect fit to tell this unbelievable story of victory and high consciousness.”

Carlos Santana to Perform at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival

Carlos Santana has reached a crossroads

The 75-year-old Mexican legendary guitarist and his band, Santana, will perform at Eric Clapton’s 2023 Crossroads Guitar festival.

Carlos SantanaThis year’s event will take place over two nights (September 23-24) at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, where Clapton will again gather some of the best guitar players in the world for headlining sets and impromptu collabs.

Though not everyone on the roster will repeat over the weekend, Clapton will perform both nights, joined by Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Santana, Jakob Dylan, Albert Lee, Los Lobos, Stephen Stills, Taj Mahal, ZZ Top, the John Mayer Trio, Robert Randolph, H.E.R., Marcus King and many more.

Tickets for the festival will go on sale on Friday, April 21, at 10:00 am

local time via Ticketmaster; there are no two-day passes, only single-day tickets.

Also slated to perform at the event are: Joe Bonamassa, Doyal Bramhall II, James Bullard, Jerry Douglas, Andy Fairweather Low, Samantha Fish, Sonny Landreth, Pedro Martins, John McLaughlin, Del McCoury Band, Roger McGuinn, Keb’ Mo’, Ariel Posen, Eric Gales, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, Ben Haggard, Sierra Hull, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, The Bros. Landreth, Robbie Robertson, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gustavo Santaolalla, Daniel Santiago, Molly Tuttle, Jimmie Vaughan, Breadley Walker and The War on Drugs.

Longtime co-sponsor Guitar Center will again host the Guitar Center Festival Village at the adjacent Xbox Plaza and Chick Hearn Court at L.A. Live, where some of the world’s best guitar and gear manufacturers will host interactive exhibits where fans can try out new products and instruments.

In addition to some multi-million-dollar historical guitars on display at the Legends Collection area, there will also be an unveiling of the 25th anniversary Crossroads Guitar Collection, a rare series of limited-edition guitars based on some of Clapton’s vintage gear; a significant portion of profits from the sale of the guitars will go to aid Clapton’s Crossroads Centre at Antigua treatment and education facility.

Ana Bárbara Becomes First Regional Mexican Songwriter to Receive BMI Icon Award

Ana Bárbara is celebrating a history-making win…

The 52-year-old Mexican singer, actress, television personality and model became the first regional Mexican songwriter to ever receive a BMI Icon Award.

Ana BárbaraAna Barbara received the award at the BMI Latin Awards, which took place on March 21 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.

“As an iconic female Regional Mexican artist, whose body of work continues to be an indomitable inspiration for the creative community, we’re thrilled to name Ana Bárbara a BMI Icon,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Dubbed as La Reina Grupera, she has forged a career that spans decades. Her artistic achievements have paved the way for the next generation of female songwriters in the genre and earned the respect of the industry at large as one of the most groundbreaking songwriters of all time. For that, we salute Ana as a true icon and look forward to celebrating all our top music creators behind some of today’s most-performed Latin songs.”

The “Bandido” singer joins an elite group of artists who have received BMI’s highest honor including Carlos SantanaGloria EstefanJuan Luis GuerraLos Tigres Del Norte and Los Lobos, among others. Throughout her 30-year career — which she kicked off in the early ’90s with her self-titled debut album in 1994 — Ana Bárbara has a total of 16 entries on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs, four of those are top 10 hits including “La Trampa” and “Me Asusta Pero Me Gusta.” On the Regional Mexican Airplay tally, she’s entered 21 songs, five of which hit the top 10.

Edgar Barrera, the prolific songwriter who seamlessly navigates between genres, was given the first ever Impact award for his remarkable presence and influence across the charts of many genres.

The evening — hosted by BMI President/CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President, Creative, Latin Jesus Gonzalez — was also evening of encores. Tainy won the contemporary songwriter of the year award for the second year in a row, and Horacio Palencia also repeated his regional Mexican songwriter of the year award, this time tying with Barrera.

Sony Music Publishing, home to Tainy and Barrera, took home the contemporary Latin publisher of the year award, marking the seventh time in 10 years that it does so.

Universal Music Publishing Group won Regional Mexican publisher of the year, and the smash “Pepas” — performed by Farruko and written by Víctor Cardenas VIIC, IAMCHINO, Axel Quezada “Ghetto” and Keriel K4G Quiróz — was named contemporary Latin song of the year. “Jugaste y Sufrí” by Daniel Balderrama Espinoza won the Regional Mexican song of the year.

But the belle of the ball was undoubtedly Aba Bárbara. The Mexican singer, resplendent in a shimmering dress with a pink feathered skirt, delivered a set of her own compositions, backed by a her band and ending with “Lo Busqué,” during which she accompanied herself on guitar. The performance was a reminder of just how prolific Ana Bárbara has been in her 30-year career, placing 16 hits on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart and 14 on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart.

“Songwriting was something I didn’t always speak about,” Bárbara told Billboard earlier. “I was always shy about my songwriting, from the time I wrote [her first major hit] ‘Quise Olvidar,’ because composing wasn’t common among women. Now, I believe in all my songs, and I believe they’re all for me.”

Her inspirations, said Ana Bárbara, were the greats of Mexican music, including José Alfredo Jiménez; Joan Sebastian and Marco Antonio Solís, who both mentored her; and Ana Gabriel, also a singer and composer.

Now, Gabriel is also inspiring a new generation, as evidenced by the opening number of the night, a tribute to her music performed by young Mexican singers Adriana Ríos, Alisun Solís, Angélica Gallegos and Lupita Infante.

Carlos Santana Agrees to One-Year, $6.7 Million Contract with Pittsburgh Pirates

Carlos Santana is headed to the crow’s nest…

The 36-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman, nicknamed “Slamtana,” has agreed to a one-year, $6.7 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, pending the results of a physical, according to ESPN.

Carlos SantanaSantana finished with a league-average OPS last year, hitting .202/.316/.376 between stints with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. But his expected numbers, based on how hard he hit the ball (an 81st-percentile exit velocity) and his elite walk rate (97th percentile), projected far better results, something that drove his market.

Further, nobody was shifted a higher percentage last year than Santana, who saw altered defense in 356 of his 362 left-handed batting appearances. With the ban of the shift coming in 2023, the switch-hitting Santana could see a significant benefit.

After a midseason trade to the Mariners, Santana emerged quickly as a leader, something the Pirates — whose oldest position player on the 40-man roster is 31-year-old Ji-Man Choi, for whom they traded earlier this winter — desperately need.

Santana is entering his 14th season and has a career line of .242/.359/.432 with 278 home runs and 925 RBIs.

He will rejoin Pirates manager Derek Shelton, who was the big league hitting coach for Cleveland when Santana joined the organization following a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.

Still a strong defensive first baseman, Santana is best known for his plate discipline and power. He has posted walk rates of greater than 13% in every big league season and hit at least 18 home runs in each of his 11 full years in the major leagues.

The Pirates, whose payroll was among the bottom five in baseball this year for the fifth consecutive season, are expected to further to add via free agency or trades this winter, a young core led by center fielder Bryan Reynolds, shortstop Oneil Cruz, and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Starter Mitch Keller and closer David Bednar anticipate the arrival of catcher Henry Davis, second baseman Nick Gonzales and right-hander Quinn Priester.

Christina Aguilera to Receive Spirit of Hope Award at Billboard Latin Music Awards

It’s a spirited time for Christina Aguilera.

The 41-year-old half-Ecuadorian American actress and pop star will receive the Spirit of Hope award at the 2022 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

Christina AguileraThe special award — which was established in 1996 in honor of the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla — will recognize Aguilera for her philanthropic and humanitarian contributions beyond her musical work.

Aguilera will also perform during the awards show, which will take place on Thursday, September 29, at the Watsco Canter in Miami, and will be broadcast live on Telemundo beginning at 7:00 pm ET.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards — where Bad Bunny leads the list of finalists with a staggering 23 nods across 13 categories — will be simulcast on Telemundo, Universo, Peacock, the Telemundo App, and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on Telemundo Internacional.

In addition to her musical accolades, including more than 75 million records sold worldwide, five No.1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, and a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, the artist also known as Xtina has lifted her voice to help end the cycle of domestic abuse, been a longtime supporter and ally to the LGBTQ+ community, raised awareness about HIV/AIDS research, and traveled the globe to help feed children in poverty-stricken areas.

Aguilera joins past Billboard Spirit of Hope recipients including Gloria Estefan, Emmanuel, Willy Chirino, Olga Tañon, Maná, Los Tigres del Norte, Ricky Martin, El General, Soraya, Juan Luis Guerra, Shakira, Ricardo Montaner, Juanes, Daddy Yankee, Marc Anthony, Carlos Vives, Carlos Santana, Luis Fonsi, and Maluma.

Kansas City Royals Trade Carlos Santana to Seattle Mariners

Carlos Santana is headed west…

The Kansas City Royals have traded the 36-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman, nicknamed “Slamtana,” and nearly $4.3 million to the Seattle Mariners for right-handers Wyatt Mills and William Fleming, clearing the way for Kansas City to bring up hot prospect Vinnie Pasquantino.

Carlos SantanaPasquantino was not in the starting lineup against the Texas Rangers on Monday night because of tight travel schedules, but Royals general manager J.J. Picollo and manager Mike Matheny expect his big bat to be in the lineup regularly.

“When I was growing up, I had a dream of playing professional baseball. But I just enjoy playing the game,” said Pasquantino, who was doing his laundry when he learned of his big league call-up. “I still do now, and I’m going to continue to try to do that as we move forward. I just love playing the game.”

The Royals optioned Mills, a 27-year-old relief pitcher, to Triple-A Omaha while designating right-hander Ronald Bolanos for assignment. Fleming, a 23-year-old with starting potential, was assigned to Class-A Quad Cities.

This is the second time Santana has been with Seattle, though the first lasted a mere 10 days. He was acquired along with J.P. Crawford from the Philadelphia Phillies for infielder Jean Segura, right-hander Juan Nicasio, and left-hander James Pazos on December 3, 2018; the Mariners then traded him away as part of a three-team deal with Cleveland and the Tampa Bay Rays.

This time should be different for Santana, who hit 19 homers in 158 games for Kansas City last season but was hitting just .216 with four homers through 52 games this season.

The Mariners were in search of a switch-hitter and an option at first base with leading hitter Ty France on the injured list with an elbow injury.

Santana has been better at the plate over the past month, hitting .357 with a 1.032 OPS in June.

The Mariners will pay $1.5 million of the remainder of Santana’s salary in the second year of a two-year, $17.5 million deal.

With the Royals last in the AL Central at 26-45 heading into their Monday night game against Texas, and Santana nearing the end of his contract, it was prudent for Kansas City to clear the way for Pasquantino to begin his big league career.

The 24-year-old was picked in the 11th round of the 2019 first-year player draft out of Old Dominion and was generally one of the Royals’ overlooked prospects until the past couple of seasons. Dubbed the “Italian Nightmare” by Hall of Famer George Brett in spring training, Pasquantino was hitting .280 with 18 homers this season at Omaha, and he was among the Triple-A leaders in extra-base hits, runs, homers and slugging percentage.

“I’m excited to be in the clubhouse every day and see what everybody’s about,” said Pasquantino, who joins top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. and catcher MJ Melendez among a wave of rookie position players in Kansas City.

“I’m coming into a clubhouse with some established veterans and I’m excited to learn from those guys,” he said.

Mills had a 4.15 ERA in eight appearances for Seattle this season, along with going 1-0 with a 1.83 ERA in 19⅔ innings for Triple-A Tacoma. Fleming was picked in the 11th round of last year’s first-year player draft out of Wake Forest and was 6-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 14 starts for Class-A Modesto this season.

Bolanos had a 4.42 ERA in eight appearances for Kansas City this season.