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Lila Downs (born 1968 in Tlaxiacomarker, Oaxacamarker) is a Mexicanmarker singer. She performs her own compositions as well as tapping into native Mesoamerican music of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl cultures.

Downs is the daughter of Mixtec cabaret singer Anita S√°nchez and Allen Downs, a Scottishmarker/Englishmarker-Americanmarker professor of art and cinematographer from Minnesotamarker. She grew up partly in the Mexican state of Oaxacamarker, partly in the U.S. state of Californiamarker as a teen, and Minnesota as an adult where she graduated from the University of Minnesotamarker in voice and anthropology.

She later returned to Mexico where she learned to weave. Later, she began singing in the club scenes of Oaxacamarker and Philadelphiamarker along with Paul Cohen, an American-born saxophonist. They began collaborating together on songs that would slowly evolve into Downs's subsequent recordings. Cohen went on to become both Downs' husband and her artistic director.

In recent years, Downs and her band have toured widely in Mexico, South America, the US and Europe. She was also heard in the soundtrack to the movie Frida in a song, Burn it Blue, that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song and that she performed at the 75th Academy Awards. Other songs that she performed on the soundtrack are "Benediction and Dream," "Estrella Oscura," and "La Llorona." Other movies with a Lila Downs song are Tortilla Soup, Real Women Have Curves and Fados by Carlos Saura. She was also invited to the Twelve Girls Band's concert in Shanghai, where she sings in French and English. Downs is currently based in Coyoac√°nmarker, a borough of Mexico Citymarker.

Lila Downs released an album of new material as well as a few cover songs, including "I Envy The Wind" by Lucinda Williams and "I Would Never" by the Blue Nile. The album was released on September 2, 2008 and is called Shake Away. Downs also collaborates with artists like La Mari from Chambao and Enrique Bunbury from Héroes del Silencio.


  • Shake Away/Ojo De Culebra (Manhattan Records 2008)
  • The Very Best Of El Alma de Lila Downs CD+DVD (EMI 2008)
  • La Cantina (Narada 2006)
  • Una Sangre (One Blood) (Narada 2004)
  • Border (La Linea) (Narada 2001)
  • Tree of Life (Yutu tata) (Narada 2000)
  • La Sandunga (Narada 1999)
  • Azul√°o: En Vivo con Lila Downs (1996)
  • Ofrenda (1994)



  1. Lila Downs - La Conjugadora. Retrieved on February 17 from
  2. XISPAS:An interview with Lila Downs Retrieved Sept 18, 2006 from

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