Hometown: Oaxaca MX and NYC
Web site: http://liladowns.com
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Lila Downs, born in Oaxaca, Mexico, is the daughter of Mixtec cabaret singer Anita Sánchez and Allen Downs, a Scottish/English-American art professor. She grew up in Oaxaca, California, and Minnesota, where she graduated from the University of Minnesota in voice and anthropology. Her musical vision is anthropological in nature, as varied as the ancient and earthy cultures that inspire her. Downs is accompanied on her musical journey by her longtime band, La Misteriosa, multi-cultural multi-instrumentalists who include Paul Cohen, her collaborator, producer and husband.
Her powerful persona and voice caught Hollywood's attention. She played a role in the Salma Hayek film about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, sang the Oscar nominated soundtrack song "Burn It Blue," and became the first Mexican to perform on the Academy Awards telecast. She also captured a Latin Grammy for 2004's Una Sangre. And a Grammy nomination for Shake Away in 2009.
At The Festival of Sacred Music at the Hollywood Bowl, Downs participated alongside luminaries including the Dalai Lama. "I sang in Mixtec, my mother's native language. There were so many Mixtec people in the audience - who wash dishes, who cultivate the fields, and we got a standing ovation. It was the most intense moment in my life. It was an honor to have that connection."
Downs often taps into the native Mesoamerican music of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl cultures. Embracing and highlighting indigenous origins, whether in the US or Mexico, has always been an important aspect of her music. Mexico also has an important African community--in the history of music in Latin America we owe so much to our African roots, yet people in the US might not know how important that is.
Though many songs address the heated topics of immigration, political justice, and transformation, Downs' vulnerability, compassion and humor are always present in the music.
Live en Paris – A FIP (2010)
The Very Best of el Alma de Lila Downs (2009)
Shake Away (2008)
La Cantina (2006)
One Blood (Una Sangre) (2004)
Border (La Linea) (2001)
Tree of Life (Yutu tata) (2000)
La Sandunga (1999)
Azulao: En Vivo con Lila Downs (1994)
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