Captivating vocalist Lila Downs to perform at Quick Center


Bringing an eclectic mix of cultural tradition with her own touches of jazz, cumbia and Latin pop, Lila Downs and her five-member band are set to perform for music lovers of all kinds on Friday, March 21, 2003 at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Recording industry magazine Billboard praised Ms. Downs' voice describing it as a "world-class instrument." Blessed with an exceptional range and an arresting stage presence, Lila Downs is a gifted vocalist and musical talent. She embodies the spirit of 21st century world culture in which musical boundaries transcend culturally dividing lines. Her credits include a singing cameo in the film "Frida", a biography on the life of Frida Kahlo starring Salma Hayek. Ms. Downs sings some of the songs on the movie soundtrack, which won a Golden Globe.

Lila Downs' music takes what is personal and makes it universal. Daughter to an Anglo-American father and a Mixtec Indian mother, Ms. Downs knows first hand what boundaries represent and she incorporates this into her sound. By bringing distinct cultures together, her music challenges a world where borders are ever-present. More than an exotic beauty, Ms. Downs has created her own unique blend of Mexican folk music and American jazz. Ms. Downs also uses her music as a forum for political expression, particularly on the topic of Mexican immigration and how Mexicans risk their lives crossing the border to the United States.

In addition to her vocal sound - mezzo-soprano with a three-octave range, she is well known for her dramatic onstage presence. Her charisma was recognized in an electrifying 1999 performance at the World Festival of Sacred Music where she received a standing ovation, an honor given only to one other festival participant-the Dalai Lama.

As her lyrical depictions focus on a variety of concepts, her musical styles too evolve with every CD. Her debut album, "La Sandunga" drew heavily from her Mixtec Indian background including such traditional songs as "La Llorona," a song about a mythical woman said to haunt the river valleys of Mexico, weeping for her children whom she drowned in a fit of madness. In 2000, she released "Tree of Life/Yutu Tata," in which she created lyrics from the religious codices of the Mixteca and Zapotec people. In her latest creation, "Border/La Linea", she mixes jazzy rock tunes with Latin pop, cumbia and adds a few flashes of hip-hop.

Ms. Downs will be performing with her band consisting of five other musicians: Chuco Mendoza from Mexico on bass and vocals; Carlos Tovar also from Mexico on congas, bongos, snares and vocals; Charlie Hernandez on the 'cajon', and vocals; Celso Duarte from Paraguay on the harp, violin and guitar and Paul Cohen from the United States plays the saxophone, clarinet and is the group's musical director.

Whether you are in search of a new sound or a tweaking of the old, reserve seats in advance for Lila Downs, performer, vocalist and all-around musical talent. Tickets for this event are $25. For tickets call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 7, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 182