class=""MsoNormal"">SALISBURY, MD---One of the great international musical ambassadors of Mexico, Lila Downs, performs 7 p.m. Thursday, October 27, in Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University.
class=""MsoNormal"">Downs first began shaping her musical stylings at age 8, singing mariachi songs learned while growing up in the Sierra Madre mountains of southern Mexico. She started voice lessons in Los Angeles at age 14 and continued her vocal work in Oaxaca City at Bellas Artes, Mexico. She moved to her father’s home state of Minnesota four years later for college, where she studied voice and anthropology at the University of Minnesota.
class=""MsoNormal"">Her first touring musical experiences came as a member of Cadetes de Yodoyuxi, a tambora band, and La Trova Serrana, a band based in Guelatao, Oaxaca, whose members sang about their Zapotec community and values. Attending the University of Minnesota, she planned to become an opera singer. After dropping out for a short period to follow the Grateful Dead, she returned to the university, earning degrees in voice and anthropology. Both gave her a greater passion to learn more about the music of her native country.
class=""MsoNormal"">Returning to the mountains of Oaxaca, Downs divided her time between Mexico and Philadelphia, performing in clubs with her music partner, expatriate saxophonist Paul Cohen. Their collaborations grew into the recordings that have made Downs famous. She released her first album, La Sanduga, in 1999, followed by Tree of Life in 2000 and the critically acclaimed Border (La Linea) in 2001.
class=""MsoNormal"">The Los Angeles Times calls her “a reflection of a 21st century world culture where ethnicity and national boundaries blur." The New York Times says Downs sings “with a voice so vari-colored and many octaved that it’s difficult to imagine it as the product of a single larynx." Sponsored by the Office of the President and Office of Cultural Affairs, Downs’ concert is part of SU’s Year of Languages Fall Cultural Events Series. Admission is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-543-6271 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "