Lila Downs
Mexican/American singer-songwriter
Lila Downs
Ana Lila Downs Sánchez best known as Lila Downs is a Mexican singer-songwriter. She performs her own compositions as well as tapping into Mexican traditional and popular music. She also incorporates indigenous mexican influences and has recorded songs in indigenous languages such as mixtec, zapotec, maya, nahuatl and p'urhépecha.
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Lila Downs: Tiny Desk Concert
NPR - about 1 month
With a voice that borrows heavily from opera, Downs performs the kind of full-throated mariachi singing that would fit right in at Mexico City's Garibaldi Square — ground zero for mariachi. (Image credit: NPR)
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NPR article
'La Llorona': A Spooky Folk Song With Many Lives
NPR - 4 months
Just in time for Día de los Muertos, here are 12 versions of an old song that still frightens. Hear "La Llorona" performed by Chavela Vargas, Lila Downs, Mariachi Flor de Toloache and more.
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NPR article
There's Going To Be A Concert On The U.S.-Mexico Border
Huffington Post - 5 months
Music has the ability to transport you. In this case, it could take you across borders. On Oct. 15, a slew of talented musicians and celebrities will head to the U.S.-Mexico border for a free, bilingual concert called “RiseUp AS ONE.” The show will include performances by Juanes, Carlos Vives, Andra Day, Jesse & Joy, Los Tigres del Norte, Lila Downs and Alejandro Sanz, as well as appearances by special guests Gael García Bernal, Jonás Cuarón, Mía Maestro and Wilmer Valderrama. The event, staged by Univision and Fusion, will be held in San Diego, Calif. at the Cross Border Xpress (CBX), an airport terminal and enclosed skywalk bridge that provides access to Tijuana Airport. The bridge spans just over 390 feet, and is the first to directly connect a facility in the U.S. to a foreign airport, making it the perfect location for such an event.  “The U.S.-Mexico border provides the perfect stage for this amazing event and is a way to highlight diversity and inclusion, despite bo ...
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Huffington Post article
2015 Latin Grammy Winners Include Juan Luis Guerra, Natalia Lafourcade
Huffington Post - over 1 year
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Winners of the 16th annual Latin Grammy Awards, presented Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas: - Album of the year: "Todo Tiene su Hora," Juan Luis Guerra 4.40 - Record of the year: "Hasta la Raiz," Natalia Lafourcade - Song of the year: "Hasta la Raiz," Leonel Garcia, Natalia Lafourcade - New artist: Monsieur Periné - Contemporary pop album: "Sirope," Alejandro Sanz - Urban music album: "El que Sabe, Sabe," Tego Calderón - Rock album: "B," Diamante Eléctrico - Alternative album: "Hasta la Raiz," Natalia Lafourcade - Salsa album: "Son de Panamá," Rubén Blades with Roberto Delgado - Folkloric album: "Balas y Chocolate," Lila Downs - Latin jazz album: "Jazz Meets The Classics," Paquito D'Rivera Complete list available at . Also on HuffPost:  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may ...
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Huffington Post article
10 Reasons You'll Love Living In A Majority-Minority America
Huffington Post - almost 2 years
By 2043, the Census Bureau predicts that the United States will become a "majority-minority" country, in which no racial group makes up more than half of the population. While we can't know exactly what the future holds for the nation, we imagine it will mean more diversity. With that in mind, here are 10 reasons why everyone could benefit from an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural America: New Flavors, Better Food Korean-American chef David Chang prepares vegetables for dinner at Momofuku Ko in New York. Momofuko Ko is Chang's third restaurant. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) Solidly majority-white America spent much of the mid-20th century using the kitchen as an unholy science lab for turning out unrecognizable, processed foods like jello, spam and oversized chicken breasts ripped off of birds whose legs buckled under their own weight. Less squeamish ethnic enclaves and immigrant-descended communities are already putting America back in touch with age- ...
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Huffington Post article
Lila Downs' songs speak to Demian Flores' artists in exhibit at USC
LATimes - over 3 years
Demian Flores, a graphic artist and painter, and Lila Downs, a singer-songwriter, combine song and artwork to create 'Pecados y Milagros' at USC Fisher Museum of Art. Like folk art and fine art, or mezcal and worms, sins and miracles might seem like a very odd couple. But for Demián Flores and Lila Downs, mixing pecados (sins) and milagros (miracles) proved to be a potent combination.
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LATimes article
Camino Americano: Concert and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect
Huffington Post - over 3 years
On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, with its partners CASA de Maryland, the AFL-CIO, SEIU and many others, will present Camino Americano: Concert and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Los Tigres del Norte will headline the free Concert and will be joined by guest artists Lila Downs and Little Joe (Hernandez). Los Tigres have been at the forefront of the immigration debate from almost the very beginning. The outdoor, two-hour concert will begin at 12:30 p.m. at 10th Street and the National Mall. While many of you may not be able to join us in person, we hope that the Concert and March will resonate in your hearts and minds. Latinos have united and shown their cumulative strength convincingly at the ballot box, most notably during the November 2012 presidential election. Our unity is largely due to the vitriolic messaging from the conservative right; but negativity should not be the basis of what un ...
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Huffington Post article
Obama Postpones Latino Music Concert After Navy Shootings
Yahoo News - over 3 years
In light of the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, the White House has postponed Monday night’s scheduled concert in the East Room that was to feature Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, Lila Downs and other musicians to honor Hispanic Heritage Month. The event, “Musica Latina: In Performance at the White House,” was to... Read more »
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Yahoo News article
White House to celebrate Hispanic culture
Yahoo News - over 3 years
Washington, Sep 13 (IANS/EFE) Gloria Estefan, Lila Downs, Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz are among the artistes invited to perform at a White House event next week as part of Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, the White House said.
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Yahoo News article
Lila Downs Reveals Her Influences
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
It's been quite a year for Mexican folk singer Lila Downs. She earned a Grammy in February, she released a new recording and she honored her father's life. Downs returns to Tucson for a performance Sunday at the Fox Tucson Theatre at 7 p.m. as part of UApresents. In March, the Mexican-born Downs performed in Minneapolis, where she grew up, at a retrospective of her late father's work. Allen Downs was a filmmaker and professor of art at the University of Minnesota. Like her father's former students, the singer was strongly influenced by his art and ideas.
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Huffington Post article
Grammys 2013: Our Picks For The 20 Worst Outfits Of The Evening
Best Week Ever - about 4 years
The Grammys are usually a night to dig deep into your wardrobe and bust out your very best for the cameras! Well, apparently some peeps didn’t get that part of the memo. While many A-listers strutted their stuff on the red carpet in their high fashion finery, there were folks who appeared to have lost a bet or something. View Photo Gallery <a href=""> <img src="" alt="lila_downs_1.jpg"> </a> We’re not being mean, we swear! But that seems to be the only way to explain why Kat Dennings wore a dress that seems to be made out of bubble wrap, John Mayer showed up in a Willy Wonka-style velvet blazer, one dude wore an astronaut’s space suit (this isn’t the VMA ...
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Best Week Ever article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Lila Downs
  • 2016
    Age 47
    In August of 2016, Lila Downs performed at the 21st Annual Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival along side Aida Cuevas, Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles in Santa Barbara, CA.
    More Details Hide Details Downs has had small parts in such films as Frida, Fados and Hasta el último trago corazón; the latter is a documentary on Mexican music involving various exponents of the genre. Downs worked on the composition and arrangements for the musical Como agua para chocolate, based on the book by Laura Esquivel, which premiered at the Public Theater of New York and Broadway in late 2011 and early 2012. She participated in the filming of the U.S. film Mariachi Gringo directed by Tom Gustafson, where she worked alongside Mexican actresses Adriana Barraza, Martha Higareda and Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore. The film was released in 2012. In 2001, Downs was invited to participate in the soundtrack of the Mexican film Piedras Verdes where she performed "Cancion mixteca", in 2002 she participated in the soundtrack for the film Frida singing the song "Burn It Blue" which was nominated in the 75th Academy Awards in the category of Best Original Song. In 2005 she participated in the soundtrack for the film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada with the song "Dónde estás papá". Downs has also participated in other soundtracks for films such as Real Women Have Curves and Tortilla Soup. In the film by Carlos Saura, Fados (2007), she sings an unforgettable version of "Foi na Travessa da Palha" in Portuguese.
  • 2015
    Age 46
    Her last album 'Balas Y Chocolate' was listed on i-Tunes as one of the years best in World Music 2015, was one of the UK Sunday Times best albums of the year and was a Best Album of the Year pick in Songlines Magazine, where she was featured on the cover of the June 2016 issue.
    More Details Hide Details Some of her most successful songs include: "Tengo miedo de quererte", "Estrella oscura", "La línea", "La llorona", "La cumbia del mole" y "Ojo de culebra".
    In 2015, Lila Downs joined the judging panel for The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards and by doing so, helped to assist the careers of upcoming independent artists.
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    Her eighth album, "Balas y Chocolate", was released in 2015.
    More Details Hide Details Downs began performing in school, demonstrating her vocal ability with traditional music, Latin and American influences, and with her own original twist on dancing. Downs, a native Spanish speaker, also speaks fluent Mixtec and English. Downs through her activism has gone through great lengths to preserve the Mixtec language as well as many other Indigenous Mexican languages. Influenced by Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa, Lucha Villa, and Amparo Ochoa, Lila Downs is recognized for her flamboyant, diverse and outré contributions to the music industry through her traditional and authentic fashion, the majority of which are based around Mexico's indigenous peoples' styles, cultures and heritages, which show through her performances and music videos. Her achievements include one Grammy Awards and two Latin Grammy Awards. Besides her musical career, she involves herself with humanitarian causes and political activism, especially dealing with issues of Latin America's indigenous.
  • 2010
    Age 41
    In June 2010, Downs announced on her web site that, after several years of trying to be parents, she and Paul Cohen had adopted a child, Benito Dxuladi.
    More Details Hide Details They currently reside in Coyoacán in Mexico City and Oaxaca although most of the time they spend traveling. Downs has been a social activist throughout her entire career and works to maintain her cultural identity in the eye of social distress. For example, she sings with passion, and admiration for her home in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her music draws out many socially significant issues particularly with issues pertaining to the Indigenous, such as the mistreatment and misunderstanding of indigenous peoples of Oaxaca, by celebrating her Mixtec heritage through song. Her albums are socially significant, especially her album, One Blood, or Una Sangre, which includes songs such as La Digificada, which is a song about Digna Ochoa's assassination. Digna Ochoa was a social activist, and Lila featured her story on her album One Blood. When asked if she is a politician, Lila said that she does not want to be a politician because she is not interested in power, instead she wants to support and change society through music. On Friday, October 9, 2009 Downs, along with actress Salma Hayek represented Mexico participated in an event for the worldwide campaign of the One Drop foundation, to preserve water. They performed together with the founder of Cirque du Soleil, Shakira, U2, former Vice President Al Gore and other world-class personalities.
    The tour officially ended on November 17, 2010 in Square Dance by Oaxaca City where she had an audience of approximately seven thousand people.
    More Details Hide Details Pecados y Milagros World Tour was Lila Downs' fourth musical tour Lila in support of her seventh studio album, " Pecados y Milagros ". It was announced on October 3, 2011 through the official website of the singer. Balas y Chocolate World Tour is Lila Downs' fifth concert tour, and promoted her eighth studio album Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and chocolate (in Spanish).) It began on March 26 in Mexico City at the Plaza Condesa, presenting the repertoire of new music album of the same name tour. Canada in 2015, Spain has toured with great success (Cartagena, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid etc.), Paraguay, Chile, Argentina (Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Cordoba), Bolivia, Ecuador, United States (more than 20 cities, including New York City, Miami, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Step etc.) In 2016 she will be in London, Spain, Argentina and Peru.
    In March 2010, Lila Downs announced a world tour Black Magic Woman Tour which began in Buenos Aires, Argentina with three sold out shows.
    More Details Hide Details This tour included several countries in America Asia and Europe in many of which attendance records were broken.
  • 2009
    Age 40
    The single "Black magic woman" achieved moderate success in Europe, United States and Canada, and the single "Silent Thunder" was later well received by the British market. In October 2009 Lila Downs was honored by a plaque at the outskirts of her hometown and birthplace, Tlaxiaco, Mexico, and also was awarded the keys the city for her work preserving the language of Mixtec.
    More Details Hide Details "Lila Downs y la Misteriosa en Paris - Live à FIP" is the second live album by Downs, released on April 13, 2010 in Spain and France, the album was recorded in 2009 in Radio France studio 105 in Paris, France. The album was released in May 2010 in the United States and in July in most other countries. It received positive feedback from critics. Lila Downs y la Misteriosa en Paris was released in Mexico with an edited version of the live concert on DVD and was number one in sales of Gender World Music for the music chain Mixup for three consecutive weeks. Although receiving little promotion the album has received moderate success on the Mexican charts. In a survey of the best albums of 2010 conducted by the Mexican television network Channel 22, this album was ranked number one.
  • 2008
    Age 39
    Although not part of the tour, Lila Downs appeared in the Live Earth in Germany, where she played three songs, and in late 2008 sang at the Harmony Festival held in California, United States.
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  • 2007
    Age 38
    In May 2007, Downs published a DVD collection as a document of that tour in a concert in Oaxaca and Mexico City; this DVD contained thirteen live tracks and a documentary as well as special features like interviews, short films by Allen Downs (Lila's father) and videos.
    More Details Hide Details In September 2008 the Ojo de Culebra World Tour started, which took place on four continents, and was the most successful tour for a Mexican artist. In Latin America, Mexico was the country with the highest number of concerts (21 in total), the tour officially ended on October 30, 2009 giving a free concert in the Zocalo of Mexico City, followed by Colombia and Costa Rica, with three concerts each.
    In 2007, Downs published a CD with the greatest success in Spanish to date, containing songs from her previous albums La Sandunga, Tree of Life, Border/The Line, One Blood and La Cantina It was entitled simply The Very Best of Lila Downs; was accompanied with a DVD containing thirteen tracks recorded live at a concert in Madrid, Spain.
    More Details Hide Details Two years after the release of La Cantina, in September 2008 Lila launched Ojo de Culebra in Europe, North America, Australia and Latin America. The album reached sixth place in sales in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Spain and several Latin American countries. The first single is titled "Ojo de Culebra" was contributed to by the Spanish singer La Mari by group of flamenco Chambao. The song is a merger of rock cumbia and flamenco with some influences of reggae. This song was at the top of the charts of world music in several countries The second single was "Perro Negro" a merger of rock with ska, (which did not have as much of an international impact as its predecessor) featured Rubén Albarrán singer of the Mexican rock band Café Tacuba. "Little man" (released in the U.S. alone) and "Justice" were next two singles, the latter with the participation of the Spanish singer Enrique Bunbury. Raul Midon, Gilberto Gutierrez and Mercedes Sosa also contributed to this album.
  • 2006
    Age 37
    Lila Downs took approximately one and a half years to prepare this project, which was released in April 2006.
    More Details Hide Details This CD draws on Mexican ranchero songs and merges sounds such as pop, rock, northern, cumbia and hip-hop. This CD contains fifteen tracks, of which twelve are traditional Mexican repertoire authored by Lila Downs, and includes a version in English of "La cumbia del mole", the song that to date is the most well-known work by the artist. "La cumbia del mole" refers to the preparation of Mexican dish and tradition in Oaxaca. This single managed to position itself among the top of the charts in Mexico, United States, Canada and United Kingdom.
  • 2005
    Age 36
    Lila Downs received in 2005 the Grammy Latino in the category of "Best Album of World Music" for this album and reached the top of the charts in United States, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and France.
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  • 2004
    Age 35
    One Blood, one of Lila Downs' most successful albums, was released in April 2004, simultaneously in the United States, Spain, and Mexico.
    More Details Hide Details The lyrics on this album are about migration, discrimination and the case of Mexican human rights defender Digna Ochoa. In addition to traditional songs such as "La Bamba," "Viborita," and "La Cucaracha," the album includes genres such as son jarocho, jazz, rock and folk. This album contains thirteen tracks, three in English, one in Triqui, one in Purepecha and eight in Spanish. Lyrics were authored by Lila Downs, Paul Cohen, Celso Duarte, and Jose Martí.
  • 2001
    Age 32
    Border, released by EMI Music in 2001, was the first album by Downs to feature songs sung in English.
    More Details Hide Details The album was released simultaneously in the United States and Mexico. With this album Downs merged sounds from different genres such as traditional folk music, hip hop, rock and chilena. It included fifteen songs, eleven in Spanish, three in English and one in Mayan. The album received generally good reviews and placed seventh in "Top charts" of world music. It also stirred up controversy due to its frank discussion of immigration, Native American marginalization and the Acteal massacre. This drew criticism, especially from politicians and the church. The album's first single was released in Mexico, "Mi corazón me recuerda", a poem by Chiapas poet Jaime Sabines. Set to music, it achieved moderate success on the Mexican music charts. In Spain the song "La Llorona", in France the song "Corazoncito Tirano" and in the United States the song "Medley: Pastures of Plenty/This Land Is Your Land/Land" were released as singles. The latter incorporates two Woody Guthrie songs, "Pastures of Plenty" and "This Land is Your Land" as well as original lyrics by Downs in "Land".
  • 2000
    Age 31
    In October 2000, she began a two-month tour called the Tree of Life/Árbol de la vida, which included concerts in Latin America, Europe and the US.
    More Details Hide Details The tour began in Mexico and ended in Spain.
  • 1999
    Age 30
    It was not until 1999, when Downs signed with the label Narada Productions, that she achieved commercial success and made herself known internationally with the album La Sandunga.
    More Details Hide Details Recorded a year earlier, this material came to the forefront of Mexican music and her album was one of the first to merge the sounds of traditional music and modern rhythms as jazz, blues and bolero. The album was sung in Spanish and mixtec, and was produced by Lila Downs and Paul Cohen with the support of Xquenda Cultural Association. Because of this success, Lila participated in the sound track of the Mexican film Green Stones and achieved great popularity in countries such as Mexico, United States, Spain, France, England and Germany, selling over 500,000 units worldwide. Lila's next album, Tree of Life, was released in 2000. With this album the fame of Downs continued to spread to other markets in England, Switzerland, Canada and especially the United States. This work found Downs turning to her indigenous past, and the album features pre-Hispanic sounds and instruments. Several of the songs on the album are sung in native Mexican languages such as Mixtec, Zapotec and Nahuatl.
    In 1999, Downs came to prominence with her debut studio album, La Sandunga, which was a critical and commercial success.
    More Details Hide Details She achieved international success in 2001 with the album Border which emerged in the music scene of Mexico and Latin America in the early 2000s (decade). Lila's seventh album, Pecados y Milagros (2011), topped album charts in most major markets and generated chart-topping world music albums.
  • 1997
    Age 28
    In 1997 Lila Downs made a second recording, called "Traces", on which she performed material that was to be included in later albums such as La Sandunga, Tree of Life and Border.
    More Details Hide Details It is an extensive compilation of items in her traditional repertoire but, like its predecessor, had no commercial distribution, so this disc is also currently out of print.
  • 1996
    Age 27
    In 1996 Downs recorded a live session at a renowned café-bar of the City of Oaxaca.
    More Details Hide Details On this record Lila was accompanied by a set of well-known musicians who supported its interpretation of traditional themes, as well as country music and jazz. With this work Lila and her music became known in different parts of the Republic of Mexico, and this was their first album to be released on CD. The album had a big impact, despite limited promotion and the fact that only a small number of copies were made. This CD is now out of print, and although not available as part of the official discography of Lila Downs, can be found in digital format.
  • 1994
    Age 25
    In 1994 Lila Downs independently made her first album, entitled Ofrenda.
    More Details Hide Details This was both a collection of traditional songs from Oaxaca and Mexico, and songs written by the singer with lyrics sung in Spanish, Mixtec and Zapotec (native languages of Oaxaca). The material was produced both independently and with the support of the Oaxacan Cultures Institute. Because this album was not a commercial success in LP or cassette, she never released a version on CD.
  • 1968
    Lila Downs was born on September 19, 1968 in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico.
    More Details Hide Details She is the daughter of Anita Sanchez, a Mixtec cabaret singer and Allen Downs, a British-American professor of art and cinematographer from Minnesota. From an early age Lila showed interest in music. At the age of eight she began singing rancheras and other traditional Mexican songs. She began her professional career singing with mariachis. At fourteen she moved to the United States with her parents. She studied voice in Los Angeles and learned English, which her father helped her to perfect. When she was 16, her father died, and she decided to return to her native Tlaxiaco with her mother. One day while she was working in a store in the Mixtec mountains a man came in to ask her to translate his son's death certificate. She read that he had drowned trying to cross the border into the United States. This deeply affected her and has continued to influence her work. She talked about this in an NPR interview about her 2001 release entitled Border.
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