by Lori King
A midnight tour through Musicovery last night resulted in a great discovery - Lila Downs. Lila is an incredible singer with a deep, smoky voice that beckons you into her colorful world. Her mother was a Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, while her father was an American art professor from Minnesota. After her father passed away, she moved to Oaxaca and was quickly steeped in her mother’s culture. You may have heard this Mexican-American singer in the movie Frida, as her song “Burn it Blue” won an Academy Award for Best Song. Her most recent 2006 album “La Cantina” has many great treasures. The ranchero songs reflect her traditional Mexican soul, but with quite a modern twist. Listen to “La Cumbia del Mole” and her dark, smoky voice will have you wishing you were at the El Estribo sipping a nice Casa Noble Anejo as the sun goes down. And here’s a bonus - the song is quite an amusing tutorial for making mole sauce. Other highlights include “Agua de Rosas,” a haunting song with subtle ska influences, while "Tu Recuerdo y Yo" takes a sharp left turn and adds a modern edge with a grinding mix of saxophone, guitar, and bass. Watch her perform this song at Womadelaide and you’ll get a sense of her power and presence on stage. For a unique mixtape, try blending "La Cantina" with Dulce Matias' "Eli Que Mhe Munde." If you're a Bendite, don't miss the chance to see her perform at Portland's Wonder Ballroom on September 24th.