That is a mouthful, but Lila always has a lot to say. She is fluent in Spanish, English and Mixtec, but also sings in many of Mexico’s Indigenous languages. She puts on a great multimedia show that will make you laugh and make you cry.
Lila has that gift for connecting with you, making you think, and making you feel what she is singing about. She rattles your humanity. Leaving one of her shows, you will probably have a strong feeling of wanting to do something.
We met her once, backstage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. She is a small woman with a huge presence. I think her message is to be who you are. Even if people turn away at first, eventually they can’t help but respond to the love that flows through your fullness.
“Cuando sueño contigo, no hay ni miedo ni duda sobre mi destino.”
(When I dream about you, I have no fear or doubt about my destiny)
Zapata Se Queda by Lila Downs (2011)
Lila Downs plays a Free SummerStage Concert
Sunday, August 11, 2019 ~ Lila brings Al Chile to SummerStage at Rumsey Playfield at 7pm. FREE
May 3, 2019 ~ Lila releases her ninth album. The title is a Mexican expression for being “straight up” or real. Speaking of chiles, Lila told Isabela Raygoza of Rolling Stone that, “They remind us of the thin line between love and pain.” That’s real.
Salón Lágrimas y Deseo
2017 ~ “Room of tears and desire” won a Latin Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The title sounds like life.
2016 ~ Latin Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. The song Gallo Negro also won for Best Short Form Music Video.
Balas y Chocolate
2015 ~ “Bullets and Chocolate” won the Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album.
2013 ~ Latin Grammy for Best Urban Song, and a nomination for Short Form Music Video.
2014 ~ Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album. Latin Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Grammy nomination for Best Latin Pop Album.
2013 ~ Latin Grammy nomination for Alternative Music Album.
Pecados y milagros
2013 ~ “Sins and miracles” won a Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music, and a Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album.
Amor earned a Latin Grammy nomination for Urban Fusion/Performance.
Monta el trueno earned a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Song.
Lila’s version of Tu cárcel by Marco Antonio Solis is one of the best versions of the famous song.
Zapata se queda with Totó la Momposina and Celso Piña is strong and the video is amazing. The song is a cumbia with clave (the salsa rhythm). The song seems to be based on Totó’s signature song El Pescador. ¡Viva Zapata!
2008 ~ Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary World Music Album.
Una Sangre (One Blood)
2005 ~ Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album.
2002 ~ Lila sang Burn it Blue with Caetano Veloso for the soundtrack of the movie about the renowned Mexican artist. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In some ways Lila channels Frida. Both are strong, creative Mexican women. Both are champions of their Indigenous heritage. Both dress in traditional ways. Seeing Lila, it’s easy to think of Frida.
2000 ~ “Milk” earned a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album.
1999 ~ This was the first album that was successful both critically and commercially.
Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca and Minnesota
Ana Lila Downs Sánchez was born in Tlaxiaco, a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her father is Scottish-American and her mother is Mixtec.
Raised in Oaxaca, Lila studied briefly at the University of Minnesota before choosing to become a singer of traditional music in Mexico.
It’s been said that when she was a teenager, Lila began to reject her Indigenous heritage. Yet she actually found her voice once she embraced that part of herself.
There is something in that story for all of us who are considered outsiders because of who we are or our heritage. To love yourself, you have to love the whole package. Then you will see what happens.