NPR 'Weekend Edition' Interview: Lila Downs

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Monday June 05, 2017

From NPR Music

Downs’ Album Mixes Traditional Mexican Genres With A Strong Feminist Pulse
By: Carrie Kahn

Grammy-winning Mexican-American recording star Lila Downs has a new album: Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo. Through her blend of genres, she looks for common ground in both her polarized countries.



Mexican-American singer Lila Downs says that she fell into a funk after the U.S. presidential election. She says she’s pulled herself out with her new album, which is called, in English, “Salon, Tears and Desire.” It’s a mix of traditional Mexican genres with a feminist beat. NPR’s Carrie Kahn met up with the artist in Mexico City and sent us this report.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: I wasn’t alone in meeting Downs in Mexico City. She invited a dozen female journalists to an upscale restaurant to lunch and the launch of her new album.

LILA DOWNS: (Laughter) Salud a todas. Salud, bienvenidas. Gracias por estar con nosotros un ratito.

KAHN: Sporting her signature long braids and a traditional kitchen apron, Downs, now 48, raised a shot glass of Mexican mezcal spirits and toasted what she called a group of inspiring peligrosa, dangerous women – a reference to a cut off her new album.

DOWNS: Me estan saliendo cosas que no sabian que habia en mi.

KAHN: In this album, she tells the group in Spanish, things came out that I didn’t even realize I had in me. Away from the group, Downs tells me she was surprised at how explicitly woman-centric her record turned out and how full of pain she was feeling about the new reality of politics in the U.S.

DOWNS: I think my wish and my dream was to make people come together and love each other a little bit more, you know? Even though that sounds very hippy-like in these times (laughter), I actually do believe it can happen.


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