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Grass Valley, Calif. May 17, 2019 – The Center for the Arts recently announced that Mexican American songstress Lila Downs (pronounced Lee-lah) will close out the 23rd Annual California WorldFest in Grass Valley taking place July 11-14, 2019. There is no question that this opera-trained, international star has a vision. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, to a Mixtec mother and an American father, Downs’s combined experience of living in both places has given her music a vital, multicultural voice. Her music reflects both worlds, but is more strongly rooted in her homeland of Oaxaca where she now lives with her family.
By performing traditional Mexican folk music in her flamboyant style, Downs hopes to open people’s eyes to the rich diversity and culture of the Mexico she so passionately loves. Some of her songs are sung in indigenous Mexican languages—Mixtec, Zapotec, Mayan, and others—languages she aims to help preserve. On her latest album, Al Chile , Downs sings with her mother in the Mixtec language. The album also includes a collaboration with jazz artist Norah Jones on a song titled “Dear Someone.” Downs loves to sing about traditional Mexican food, such as chocolate, tequila, and spicy dishes. On the Al Chile album, the chili pepper is used as a metaphor to celebrate the spicy aspects of Mexican culture. The term al chile can also mean “for real.”
In addition to celebrating her homeland, Downs uses her music to speak out against injustices she sees on each side of the border. One injustice that troubles her deeply is the treatment of immigrants at the United States-Mexican border, particularly the cruel policy of separating children from their parents. To raise funds for immigrant refugees, Downs took part in a concert in the border town of El Paso with Joan Baez, Steve Earle, and Nancy Griffin. Downs performed a cover of the classic song “Clandestino” by Manu Chao, which has become an anthem for immigrants. She recorded a version of the song on her new album Al Chile , in which Downs interjects with the plea, “If we don’t fight for the children, what will become of us?”
Even if you don’t speak Spanish, this show is not to be missed. Downs’s electrifying vocals and stunning artistic style transcend language and affect the soul. On tour with Downs is an eclectic array of accomplished multicultural musicians and dancers. In addition to Andrés Calamaro, Lila’s guests on this outing include Spanish flamenco singer Diego El Cigala, Mexican indie rocker Carla Morrison, Chilean chanteuse Mon Laferte and Oaxacan group Banda Tierra Mojada. Their vibrant, rhythmic music crosses cultural and social barriers and gets you on your feet dancing in solidarity.
Downs will be the closing performer on Sunday evening. Tickets are on sale now for the four-day festival happening July 11th to the 14th at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, California. The family-friendly festival includes music on seven stages and is filled with activities for kids and adults, workshops and artistic opportunities. For the current list of artists, details about camping and workshops and ticket information can be found online at www.worldfest.net
Since 2000, The Center for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization, has grown into a leading presenter of music, dance, theater, comedy, literary, visual art and family programming. Typically, the Center presents more than 150 events per year from its location in downtown Grass Valley. The Center is currently underway in a major renovation of its multi-use 21,000 square foot facility in downtown Grass Valley. After the renovation, the Center will have a 490 seat main theater, a large visual art gallery, classroom space, and a 90-seat black box theater. For more information about the renovation, please reach out to The Center’s Executive Director, Amber Jo Manuel.