Monday, March 05, 2007

Interview with Lila Downs

Lila Downs admits she is surprised her music has become internationally successful. After all, much of what she sings is in Spanish, it speaks of the pride and plight of the Mexican and Indian communities, it can be politically flinty, and she has even managed to alienate folk purists by mixing in rock guitars, hip-hop, jazz and reggae influences.

As a cocktail of musical styles it just doesn't seem to fit anywhere in the musical spectrum. Her early albums from the mid-90s often went unreviewed in mainstream media in Mexico where she was born, and in the United States where she spends much of her time.

But in the past few years all that has changed: her striking appearance in brightly coloured traditional clothes and with her long dark hair in severe plaits has drawn comparisons with Frida Kahlo. That association was enhanced by her appearing on the soundtrack to the 2002 Salma Hayek movie Frida. Her song Burn It Blue was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song which she performed at the awards ceremony the following year.

Subsequently Billboard magazine said she had "one of the most spell-binding voices to grace the world music scene" and the LA Times, "Lila Downs is a reflection of a 21st-century world culture where ethnicity and national boundaries blur".
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