Lila Downs: Celebrating Day of the Dead
Mexican-American singer and multiple-Grammy® winner Lila Downs returns to the Center on October 25 to celebrate one of Mexico's most colorful holidays, Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead. This will be a celebration of Mexican tradition and culture with singers and dancers sharing the stage with the iconic singer. "Nothing compares to seeing Lila Downs live," says LatinJazzNet.com: She has a singular voice and an exciting fusion of international sounds and musical genres.
As a time to honor departed family and friends, Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated on November 2, All Souls Day. Family and friends create altars at the graves of loved ones, decorating them with candles and garlands of marigolds. Music and dancing are also part of this celebration honoring the cycle of life and death. The holiday has become part of the cultural fabric in Latin communities in the United States, especially here in Southern California.
Death is never far away, but it’s not all tears. In her newest album, Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and Chocolate), Downs was inspired by death, both the violence happening in her Mexican homeland, and the prognosis by the medical profession that her husband was dangerously ill with a heart condition. She looked Death right in the eye and decided to accept the journey with grace. "I venture to say this is probably the happiest album that I've done," says Downs. The Washington Post says, "There's no weeping here. Accompanied by upbeat melodies and bouncy rhythms, the narrator of these unflinching songs in Spanish by turns teases, challenges and accepts death, without giving up hope." (That hope worked in her favor when doctors said they had misdiagnosed her husband's health. "He’s doing fine," she laughs. "He just had to cut out coffee.")
Downs is the daughter of a Mixtec Indian (indigenous to southern Mexico) mother and an American father, and she embraces both sides of her heritage. She grew up moving between Oaxaca, Mexico, and Roseville, Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota, where she studied both cultural anthropology and classical voice: She nearly became an opera singer. "Lila Downs has a voice that can overwhelm an audience with varied emotions, from the exuberance of a mezcal-soaked fiesta to the lament of a woman scorned," says Minnesota Public Radio News.
An evening with Downs is a fascinating musical journey. Her music is as varied as the ancient cultures that serve as her inspiration. She reinterprets various styles of contemporary music and weaves them with traditional Mexican and Mesoamerican music. The New York Times says, "Her own band, which includes Mexican and South American instruments and a horn section, traversed New Orleans second-line beats, country-and-western twang, Mexican cumbia and even a burst of Gypsy-flavored klezmer." The Washington Post describes Downs' sound as "cumbia-rock and ranchera-rap, electric guitars and requintos, brassy mariachis and bluesy boleros, old folk tales and new social-justice anthems [that] all make perfect sense together."
Downs has won one Grammy and three Latin Grammys, and sings in Spanish, English and the languages of southern Mexican indigenous cultures. She makes a strong connection with her fans, who are all ages and backgrounds. "I am very fortunate," says Downs. "People who follow my music belong to all walks of life." There is no "typical" Lila Downs fan. And there's nothing like hearing her three-octave voice live. Buy your tickets now.
RENÉE AND HENRY SEGERSTROM CONCERT HALL
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