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Lila Downs Shows Her Roots On Raíz
Lila Downs

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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Lila Downs Shows Her Roots On Raíz

GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner discusses her new collaborative project with Soledad and Niña Pastori, touring and what it's like to be immortalized by a grasshopper

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner Lila Downs is on quite a roll.

On Aug. 12 the Mexican-American folk singer/songwriter will release Raíz (Root), an ambitious collaborative project with Latin GRAMMY-nominated Argentine folk/pop singer Soledad and Latin GRAMMY-winning Spanish flamenco singer Niña Pastori. On the eve of the U.S. release, Downs will offer a taste of Raíz, singing a few songs from the album (without her partners) at the House of Blues in Chicago. The concert will be streamed via Yahoo Live starting at 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET. Downs is the first Latin artist featured in the series, which is a partnership between Yahoo and Live Nation.

The concert will mark the beginning of a three-week tour for Downs, including stops in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. But Downs has no plans to pause and celebrate. She's already working on her next album, which is tentatively titled Balas Y Chocolate (Bullets And Chocolate) and scheduled for release in 2015. And she recently had a grasshopper species named after her. Discovered on the side of a mountain road near Oaxaca, Mexico, the colorful grasshopper was named after Downs in recognition of her efforts to preserve indigenous culture and as a nod to her colorful stage attire.

In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Downs detailed Raíz, her upcoming Yahoo concert, following the Grateful Dead, and what it's like to be immortalized in the form of a grasshopper.

How did the Raíz project come about?
The [Chairman and CEO] of Sony Latin [Afo Verde] had this idea a few years back. I think he and Soledad talked about getting music from Argentina [heard], so they toyed with the idea and thought of various singers. And when they mentioned it to me, I found it interesting. I love to learn about different traditions. And María [Rosa García García, aka Niña Pastori] also seemed ready to try something different. I think it also had to do with the point we are at in our lives. We all have small children, and we all have worked a lot on our own, so we were ready to try something else.

Did you get to actually work with each other in the studio or was this one of those virtual collaborations?
Oh yes, we did work together. We first chose each other's songs, then we learned them, we did our own arrangements in our own countries and then we all got together in Mexico City to record the vocals — and that's when we really had to live with each other every day in the studio [laughs] for about 20, 25 days. Now, that was a challenge because the three of us come from very strong musical traditions, and we are ladies [laughs]. But it's gone so well. I'm very proud of what we've accomplished.

Are the three of you going to be able to actually perform together and tour?
Oh yes. We are going out in October here in Mexico. We have a few concerts lined up. And we're possibly going next year to Argentina and then hopefully to Spain and the U.S. Combining it with our own [individual] careers takes some planning, but it's working out.

But for your upcoming Yahoo Live-streamed concert in Chicago and your August tour dates, it's just you. What will the repertoire be?
I will be singing a few songs from Raíz but mainly I'll be singing songs from my previous album [GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner] Pecados Y Milagros and also from [my upcoming] album [Balas Y Chocolate], which will be dedicated to the [Mexican holiday] Day of the Dead and chocolate. … I became very interested in … the [Day of the Dead] offerings, because we make these beautiful ofrendas of flowers, tequila, mezcal and mole. On the Day of the Dead there are all these aromas all over the city, wherever you go, it's such a beautiful time and it really is about celebrating life. You remember your ancestors, and you appreciate life much more. 

You graduated with degrees in music and cultural anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Did music lead you to anthropology or is music a tool, a vehicle to explore issues that interest you as an anthropologist?
I wasn't attracted at all by the music scene of my generation. It wasn't meaningful to me. It just seemed music was so light, Top 40 and that kind of thing. But once I studied anthropology I started to learn more about my personal story, the history of the Americas, which is fascinating, and I saw an opportunity to tell the stories I found interesting through music, which is a much more spiritual way of communicating.

Before going to school you took a couple of years off and joined the circus, so to speak, and followed the Grateful Dead. How was that experience?
[Laughs] Oh no, Paul [Cohen, my saxophonist, producer and husband] is the one who was the circus clown. He actually did join the circus. And I did follow the Grateful Dead. … [Laughs] I did it for a couple of years and really lived on the street for about six months. I really wanted to experience freedom in every sense and really discover what that was about — and I did. I think I'm going to have to perform one of their songs one of these days.

GRAMMY, Latin GRAMMYs, new albums, touring and now, to top it all, you have been immortalized by having a grasshopper named after you. It's not every day that a folk artist is discussed on Entomology Today. How did you find out? What was your reaction?
They wrote me an email saying there was a biologist who really loved my work and admired what I was doing with culture in my state. As well as being an artist and cinematographer, my father was a biologist. I grew up surrounded by students who were working with all kinds of insects and animals. So this was a great honor. I never imagined anything like that would happen in my lifetime.

(Fernando González, an independent writer and editor, is a regular contributor to the International Review of Music, JazzTimes and Miami Herald. He is based in Miami.)

Lila Downs Announces New Album Paying Tribute To The Chile Pepper, Releases Tour Info

Lila Downs 

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Lila Downs Announces New Album Paying Tribute To The Chile Pepper, Releases Tour Info

The announcement was made with the release of the first single, a cover of the Peruvian cumbia classic "Cariñito"

GRAMMYs/Apr 11, 2019 - 04:42 am

GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Lila Downs, known for her eclectic mixture sounds from Mexico and beyond, has announced that her latest album, Al Chile, will pay tribute to the chile pepper and will drop May 3. The news came with the release of the first single, "Cariñito."

Al Chile, produced by the GRAMMY-nominated DJ and producer Camilo Lara (Mexican Institute of Sound) and mixed by Mario Caldato Jr., who has worked with the Beastie Boys and Jack Johnson, is not a joke; it sincerely shows love for the fruit. 

"Yes, the music is a tribute to the fruit that causes us so much craving and suffering, but that we really love!" Downs said in a statement. "We fry the chile, add beats from the city, then saxophones, trumpets and drums from the Mexican coast to keep the dance going. The village and the city are united by the same beat. With a mezcal in hand, we dream of a place with a palm tree where one falls in love and reflects."

The first single is Down's take on a Peruvian cumbia classic. The singer also released dates for the album's supporting tour that will take her to Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall, New York City, Seattle and other cities across the U.S.

For more information on the tour, visit Downs' website

Closing The Gap: How Latina Artists Are Combating Gender Inequality In Urban Music

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Exploring The Latin Field Nominees

Go inside the nominations in the Latin Field categories for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

You've seen the list of nominees, now take a closer look at the artists nominated in the Latin Field for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

This year's Latin Field includes first-time nominees such as Campo, Fonseca, Jesse Y Joy, Los Cojolites, Carla Morrison, Quetzal, Romeo Santos, and Sistema Bomb. Previous nominees looking for their GRAMMY include Lila Downs, Kany Garcia, Los Tucanes De Tijuana, Gerardo Ortiz, and Ana Tijoux. Veteran artists looking to add to their GRAMMY collection include Ricardo Arjona and Juanes.

Best Latin Pop Album

Ricardo Arjona, Independiente

Arjona is up for one nomination this year. He has four prior GRAMMY nominations and one win.

Fonseca, Ilusión

Fonseca is up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of his career.

Kany Garcia, Kany Garcia

Garcia is up for one nomination this year. She has one prior GRAMMY nomination.

Jesse Y Joy, ¿Con Quién Se Queda El Perro?

Jesse Y Joy are up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of their career.

Juanes, MTV Unplugged Deluxe Edition

Juanes is up for one nomination this year. He has four prior GRAMMY nominations and one win.

Best Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album

Campo, Campo

Campo are up for one nomination this year, marking their first career GRAMMY nomination.

Carla Morrison, Déjenme Llorar

Morrison is up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of her career.

Quetzal, Imaginaries

Quetzal are up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of their career.

Sistema Bomb, Electro-Jarocho

Sistema Bomb are up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of their career.

Ana Tijoux, La Bala

Tijoux is up for one nomination this year. She has one prior GRAMMY nomination.

Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)

Lila Downs, Pecados Y Milagros

Downs is up for one nomination this year. She has one prior GRAMMY nomination.

Los Cojolites, Sembrando Flores

Los Cojolites are up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of their career.

Los Tucanes De Tijuana, 365 Días

 Mariachi Divas De Cindy Shea, Oye

Mariachi Divas De Cindy Shea are up for one nomination this year. They have three prior nominations and one GRAMMY win.

Gerardo Ortiz, El Primer Ministro

Ortiz is up for one nomination this year. He has one prior GRAMMY nomination.

Best Tropical Latin Album

Raúl Lara Y Sus Soneros, Cubano Soy

 

Raúl Lara Y Sus Soneros are up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of their career.

Eddie Montalvo, Desde Nueva York A Puerto Rico

Montalvo is up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of his career.

Marlow Rosado Y La Riqueña, Retro Marlow

Rosado Y La Riqueña are up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of their career.

Romeo Santos, Formula Vol. 1

Santos is up for one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of his career.

Who will take home the awards in the Latin Field categories? Tune in to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 10, 2013, taking place at Staples Center in Los Angeles and airing live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

(Note: The videos embedded reflect official videos available through official artist and record label channels.)

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First Performers Announced For XIII Latin GRAMMY Awards

Sergio Dalma, Lila Downs, Jesse & Joy, Pitbull, and 3BallMTY are among the first performers for the biggest night in Latin music

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Current Latin GRAMMY nominees Sergio Dalma, Lila Downs (with Totó La Momposina and Celso Piña), Jesse & Joy, Victor Manuelle, Gerardo Ortiz, Pitbull, Michel Teló, and 3BallMTY are the first performers announced for the XIII Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards telecast, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Actors Cristián De La Fuente and Lucero once again will co-host the Latin music industry's premier event. The biggest night in Latin music is set for Nov. 15 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will air live on the Univision Network from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central). 

Latin GRAMMY-winning duo Jesse & Joy have five nods: Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for "¡Corre!"; Album Of The Year and Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album for ¿Con Quién Se Queda El Perro?; and Best Short Form Music Video for "Me Voy." 

Dalma is nominated in the Best Pop Traditional Vocal Album category for Vía Dalma II. Latin GRAMMY winner Downs has a nomination for Best Folk Album for Pecados Y Milagros. Manuelle garnered a Best Salsa Album nomination for Busco Un Pueblo. Ortiz drew a nomination for Best Norteño Album for Entre Dios Y El Diablo. Pitbull is up for Best Urban Song with "Crazy People." Teló has a nod for Best Sertaneja Music Album for Na Balada. 3BallMTY earned a Best New Artist nomination.

The XIII Latin GRAMMY Awards will be supported on radio via Univision Radio (the official Spanish-language radio network of the Latin GRAMMY Awards), and highlighted on the Internet at www.latingrammy.com and www.univisionmusica.com, including video interviews and photos, an extensive archive of past shows, a live blog, and dedicated forums for fans to share their excitement leading up to the live broadcast. Additionally, the telecast will be distributed internationally to more than 100 countries.

For the second year in a row, LatinGRAMMY.com will feature Latin GRAMMYs en Vivo, which will feature live coverage of the XIII Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards and interviews from various locations including the green carpet arrivals, the Pre-Telecast Ceremony, backstage, and the media center, beginning at 1:30 p.m. PT. Preceding the Awards telecast, Univision will present exclusive "Noche De Estrellas" ("Night Of The Stars") coverage of the celebrity arrivals direct from the Latin GRAMMY Awards green carpet starting at 7 p.m. ET/PT (6 p.m. Central). "Noche De Estrellas" will feature live interviews and commentary on the stars and their fashions, and will provide viewers an intimate and up-close look at Latin music's most glamorous gala event. Hosts and additional details will be announced shortly.

A limited number of tickets to the XIII Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards are available to the public and may be purchased at the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office or through Ticketmaster.

For updates and breaking news, visit www.latingrammy.com as well as The Latin Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

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15th Latin GRAMMY Nominations Announced

Calle 13's Eduardo Cabra leads the field with 11 nods; other artists receiving nods include Marc Anthony, Lila Downs, Enrique Iglesias, Jesse & Joy, and Carlos Vives

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

The Latin Recording Academy today announced nominations for the 15th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards digitally via LatinGRAMMY.com and Twitter. Eduardo Cabra of Calle 13 leads the field with 11 nominations; Calle 13 garner nine nods; Andrés Castro earns eight; Tom Coyne receives seven; Julio Reyes Copello and Carlos Vives each receive six nominations; and Descemer Bueno and Enrique Iglesias net five nominations each. 

"In this, our 15th anniversary year, we received more than 10,000 entries and the nominations continue to reflect a dynamic and vibrant worldwide Latin music community of artists, producers, engineers, songwriters and everyone involved in the recording process," said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. "With the roster of multitalented nominees, it is reassuring that this peer-recognized award is truly focused on acknowledging the quality of material and excellence in recorded music and reflects the evolution of not only our awards process but the growth of the organization in recognizing the best and most current representation of music. And once again, we are excited to partner with Univision and the MGM Grand Garden Arena to present what is sure to be one of the most memorable telecasts in Latin GRAMMY history." 

Following is a sampling of 15th Latin GRAMMY Awards nominations:

The nominees for Album Of The Year are Marc Anthony, 3.0Rubén Blades, Tangos; Calle 13, MultiviralCamila, ElypsePaco de Lucía, Canción AndaluzaLila Downs, Niña Pastori y Soledad, Raíz; Jorge Drexler, Bailar En La CuevaFonseca, Fonseca SinfónicoJarabe De Palo, Somos; and Carlos Vives, Más + Corazón Profundo.

For Record Of The Year, the nominees are Pablo Alborán Featuring Jesse & Joy, "Donde Está El Amor"; Marc Anthony, "Cambio De Piel"; Calle 13, "Respira El Momento"; Camila, "Decidiste Dejarme"; Jorge Drexler Featuring Ana Tijoux, "Universos Paralelos"; Luis Fonsi Featuring Juan Luis Guerra, "Llegaste Tú"; Enrique Iglesias Featuring Descemer Bueno & Gente De Zona, "Bailando"; Prince Royce, "Darte Un Beso"; Carlos Vives Featuring Marc Anthony, "Cuando Nos Volvamos A Encontrar"; and Carlos Vives Featuring ChocQuibTown, "El Mar De Sus Ojos."

Artists vying for Best New Artist are Aneeka, Linda Briceño, Caloncho, Julio César, Pablo López, Miranda, Periko & Jessi León, Daniela Spalla, Juan Pablo Vega, and Mariana Vega.

For Best Urban Performance, the nominees are J Balvin Featuring Farruko, "6AM"; Calle 13, "Adentro"; Enrique Iglesias Featuring Descemer Bueno & Gente De Zona, "Bailando"; Don Omar, "Pura Vida"; and Wisin, "Que Viva La Vida."

The nominees for Best Salsa Album are Marc Anthony, 3.0; Maite Hontelé, Déjame Así; Tito Nieves, Mis Mejores RecuerdosAymee Nuviola, First Class To Havana; and Mario Ortiz All Star Band, 50 Aniversario.

The 15th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, set for Thursday, Nov. 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Area in Las Vegas, will be broadcast live on the Univision Network from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central). A limited number of tickets go on sale today and may be purchased through Ticketmaster.

For a complete list of nominees, media credentialing instructions and more information, visit LatinGRAMMY.com and The Latin Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.