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VivaFest! Lila Downs Looks for Liberation in Apocalyptic Times

In Culture, Music

“My husband and I work with one charity in southern Mexico, which we really believe in,” she says. “It’s an NGO that has existed for about 20 years. They are extremely successful in terms of their few recipients of a scholarship which we have supported year after year. They have been successful at producing tremendously high-achieving young Native American women from the state of Oaxaca. We are very proud of being part of that, and we support it each year with a concert and a press campaign in Mexico.”

While Downs’ music covers a very stylistically diverse range (her latest album even includes some collaborations with rappers), there is a powerful message at the heart of her work.

“I also thinks it’s the big things, like love, empathy and consciousness,” she says. “I hope that I get those things across, and I still feel like I really have a lot more to do in English. There is a big audience out there that needs to hear what I have to say, about the immigration issues especially.”

Lila Downs will perform at the upcoming VivaFest! in San Jose on Sunday 16th in a program called Domingo Gigante: A Night of Stars, along with Ozomatli, Mariachi Vargas, Paquita la del Barrio and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles.
In years past, Downs has been at the festival, playing with such acts as Linda Ronstadt and Mariachi Cobre. She is excited to play again in California, but like anyone who has spent time here, she is torn between its familiarity and the rest of the world.

“Oh, I love it. I love California. It’s like coming home for me every time. It makes me keep believing in humanity, you know, which is pretty cool,” she says, laughing. “I think about my days [following] the Grateful Dead, and maybe that’s why I never moved back to California, because I always want it to be like that for me. You know, I think if I moved back there I would lose that.”

Lil downs performs 7pm on September 16 at HP Pavilion as part of Vivafest!

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