Tiny Desk

Lila Downs

Lila Downs has spent her career exploring the furthest reaches of Mexican folk music. With a voice that borrows heavily from opera, Downs performs the kind of full-throated mariachi singing that would fit right in at Mexico City's Garibaldi Square — ground zero for mariachi.

She can also coax the most tender moments from romantic boleros. But Downs is at her best when she and her band gather all of those influences to create cross-cultural expression that breaks down musical barriers. Entertaining and inspiring, she's as much a storyteller as a singer, and her between-song banter lays bare the Mexican soul, only to have it punctuated in song.

Balas y Chocolate is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon) (Spotify) (Google Play)

Set List
  • "Humito De Copal"
  • "La Promesa"
  • "Viene La Muerte Echando Rasero"
  • "La Patria Madrina"
Musicians

Lila Downs (vocals, jarana); Paul Cohen (sax); George Saenz, Jr. (trombone); Hugo Moreno (trumpet); Marcos Lopez (seated percussion); Yayo Serka (seated drums); Rafael Gomez (electric guitar); Leo Soqui (jarana); Luis Guzman (bass).

Credits

Producers: Felix Contreras, Morgan Walker, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Brian Jarboe; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Maggie Starbard, Morgan McCloy; Production Assistant: Carlos Water; Photo: NPR.

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