Lila Downs at the Centre

Lil Downs

Lila Downs plays the Chan Centre April 21. Photo credit: Johnny Lopera.

Grammy Award-winning Lila Downs comes to Vancouver for a special multimedia concert that also features projects of votive paintings. What’s a votive painting, you ask? And just who is Lila Downs?

Downs is a Mexican singer/songwriter who fuses traditional Mexican music with blues, jazz, and soul. For this, as well as her fiery performances, she and her band La Misteriosa have come to be regarded as one of the most innovative exponents of the Mexican/America fusion music in North America.

The smoky-voiced singer has also created an impressive body of recorded work. Her albums include La Sandunga (1999), La Linea/Border (2001), the Latin Grammy-winning Una Sangre/One Blood (2004), La Cantina (2006) and Shake Away/Ojo de Culebra (2008). Her most recent release, Pecados y Milagros (2011), earned Downs both Grammy (for Best Regional Mexican Album) and Latin Grammy awards.

Lila Downs

Lila Downs. Photo credit: Ricardo Trabulsi.

Pecados y Milagros (Sins and Miracles) finds Downs reflecting on her new role as a mother as well as the meaning of sin in the modern world. With this in mind, Downs commissioned a series of Mexican devotional paintings – paintings with religious imagery, sometimes depicting miracles – connected thematically to each song.  These paintings will be projected during the concert.

Downs has an interesting background. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico to Mixtec singer Anita Sánchez and Allen Downs, a Scottish-American art professor and filmmaker, she grew up in Oaxaca, California, and the much colder clime of Minnesota. She studied voice and anthropology at the University of Minnesota in voice and anthropology, and brings an anthropologist’s perspective to her music. For instance, she doesn’t hesitate to add beat-poet style rap or even the chirps of an iguana to a song. She also taps into the native Mesoamerican music and language of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl cultures.

See this unique cultural experience at the Chan Centre (6265 Crescent Road, UBC) Sunday April 21 at 7 p.m. For tickets visit

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