Single tickets for the 2018-2019 season go on sale Monday, Aug. 20 at 10 a.m.

Find Events Find Events
Choose date range
Free events
Select Series
Select a Genre(s)
Filters
Search by Keyword
Filters
Select Series
Select a Genre(s)
Free events

Author: Jill Kimball

Mexican-American singer Lila Downs comes to Boulder

Downs’ unique folk-pop music touches on immigration and Mexican culture.

Several decades ago, a young Mixtec Indian woman left her village behind to sing in the cantinas of Mexico City. It was in one of those famed cantinas that a University of Minnesota professor heard the woman sing and fell head over heels.

Today, that improbable couple’s daughter, singer/songwriter Lila Downs, weaves together her parents’ backgrounds in song to produce a sound that’s unlike any other. She performs for Boulder audiences on Saturday, March 3 at Macky Auditorium, as part of CU Presents’ Artist Series.

The Los Angeles Times says she “has a stunning voice [and] a confident multicultural vision.” The New York Times praises her “multiple voices, from an airborne near-falsetto down to a forthright alto and a sultry, emotive contralto.”

Even if you haven’t heard the name Lila Downs, you might have heard her sing at the 75th Academy Awards, or in the films “Tortilla Soup” and “Real Women Have Curves.” Or maybe you saw her take the stage at the 2017 Latin Grammys between performances by “Despacito” singer Luis Fonsi and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The folk-pop singer is suddenly everywhere, and that’s no surprise. Not only is her classically trained yet radio-friendly voice one of a kind, but the words she writes, influenced by a childhood of constant travel between Minnesota and Oaxaca, also resonate with today’s Mexican-born DREAMers and workers trying to make ends meet in the United States.

On her 2015 album “Balas y Chocolate” (“Bullets and Chocolate”), the title track expresses anguish at the violence many rural Mexicans see every day (“There are bullets that go flying throughout the world”) and amazement at those who bravely endure it (“There are no bullets that pierce the strength of this love”).

“This album,” says the Financial Times, “looks death and joy—the bullets and chocolates of the title—squarely in the face and accepts both.”

Across all her recordings and performances, Downs personifies both bullets and chocolate, taking a hard, piercing look at current social issues yet singing about them in dulcet and festive tones —as if to acknowledge that even in dark times, there’s always something to celebrate.

Artist Series events View all events

Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Memphis Soulphany

Loading
Starting at $20

2017 NEA Jazz Master and three-time Grammy and Tony Award-winner Dee Dee Bridgewater shares her journey in a musical exploration of her birth city. Op...

Jessica Lang Dance

Loading
Oct 5, 2018

Jessica Lang Dance

Starting at $20

Jessica Lang Dance presents immersive works that celebrate the beauty of space, shape, movement and music. JLD’s crisp and contemporary repertoi...

Venice Baroque Orchestra with Anna Fusek, recorder

Loading
Starting at $15

The classical concert hall meets the canals of Venice as this ensemble of early music virtuosi—along with Prague-born, Berlin-based Anna Fusek o...

Sarah Chang, violin

Loading
Nov 16, 2018

Sarah Chang, violin

Starting at $20

She was admitted to Juilliard at age 5 and skipped her high school prom to play for Queen Elizabeth II. But Korean-American violinist Sarah Chang, now...

Canadian Brass

Loading
Dec 17, 2018

Canadian Brass

Christmas Time is Here
Starting at $21

Welcome the Christmas season with a performance of lively carols and other holiday favorites by the world’s most famous brass quintet. Clad in t...