Lila Downs Plays the Jorgensen, 5/2
Grammy-winning, smoky-voiced Lila Downs, daughter of a Mixtec Indian woman who ran away from her village to sing in Mexico City cantinas and a Minnesota-born Scottish-American arts professor who fell in love with her there, comes to Jorgensen on Thursday, May 2, packing her eclectic world music bag of treats.
Downs will be accompanied by La Misteriosa, her choice group of Pan-American musicians that includes her musical director husband Paul Cohen. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Downs will perform selections from Pecados y Milagros (Sins & Miracles), her recent U.S. release that garnered a 2013 Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music Album and a 2012 Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album. Released by Sony in Mexico the year before, the CD swept to No. 1 on the Mexican music charts and reached platinum plus gold status. In a project at MUNAL, the fine arts museum in Mexico City, the music was accompanied by a series of commissioned votive paintings, called retablos, which will be projected on screen during the UConn concert.
Downs also received a Latin Grammy for the 2004 release Una Sangre (One Blood) and a Grammy nomination for her 2008 Shake Away, which was also named one of the top 10 albums by WOMEX, the leading world music organization. She has appeared at major events and venues including Carnegie Hall; the Sacred Music Festival (where she appeared with the Dalai Lama); WOMAD; Live Earth, and the Latino Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama.
Early musical memories include hearing her mother singing Lola Beltrán's rancheras and her father sending up Woodie Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Is it any wonder her music draws on a Latin palette and American folk, jazz, blues and African roots. Except for a youthful rebellion as a Deadhead, she honors her traditional Mexican roots, complete with all the drama but with her own take.
"Sometimes the sound feels like a heat-fueled road trip from Oaxaca to New Orleans. But then Downs is not afraid to shake things up with a cumbia rock, beat-poet style rap, or even the chirps of an iguana, taking the music to its own enigmatic world," her website biography reads.
Downs played a role in the Salma Hayek film Frida and then performed the Oscar-nominated soundtrack song "Burn It Blue" on the Academy Awards telecast, becoming the first Mexican to perform on the awards ceremony. Her music has been included in several other feature films such as Tortilla Soup, Real Women Have Curves, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and Carlos Saura's Fados.
She is also working on the musical theater presentation of Like Water for Chocolate, the award-winning novel and film by Mexican author Laura Esquivel.
Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers' Poll for 2013 and 2012.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Regular tickets are $34 and $36, with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., or order online atjorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.