Downs, Lila (1968–)

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Downs, Lila (1968–)

The leader of a six-member band whose members hail from across the Americas, Lila Downs has fashioned a unique musical fusion of sounds and aesthetic sensibilities rooted in her own Mixtec-Mexican-American identity and the diverse influences of her band members. Her band comprises both electric and acoustic instruments, including strings, saxophone, percussion, and both the electric and jarana guitar. Downs was born in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca on September 19, 1968, to a Mixtec mother and an Anglo professor from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her formative years were divided between Oaxaca, where she absorbed the indigenous and regional sounds of Mexico, and Minneapolis, where she studied music and social anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Downs's numerous albums reflect a wide exploration of musical genres, including ranchera, norteño, son jarocho, blues, and jazz. Her lyrics explore topics of Mexican immigration, indigenous spirituality, and feminist identity, blending English, Spanish, and the indigenous languages of southern Mexico to form a rich sonic experience. Her discography includes La cantina (2006); Una sangre (One Blood, 2004); La sandunga (2003); Border (La linea, 2001); and Tree of Life (2000).

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


Aparicio, Frances R., and Cándida Jáquez, eds. Musical Migrations: Transnationalism and Cultural Hybridity in Latin/o America. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Habell-Pallán, Michelle. Loca Motion: The Travels of Chicana and Latina Popular Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

Habell-Pallán, Michelle, and Mary Romero, eds. Latino/a Popular Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2002.

                                            Eric Zolov