Lila Downs
New York, NY
2011 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Peter D. and Julie Fisher Cummings.

Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lila Downs was raised between three cultures—the Mixtec Oaxacan world of her mother, as a Mexican national, and in the Minnesota home of her father. Downs studied at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She grew up singing ranchero music and studied opera in college, combining these traditions with jazz, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean music in her compositions, which address contemporary social themes around migration, gender, and race. She has recorded eight CDs.

Portrait photo courtesy Elena Pardo.
  • Artwork by Lila Downs
    Shake Away, 2008; photo credit the artist
Artwork by Lila Downs