Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Singer Lila Downs to introduce audience to traditional Mexican fare Oct. 17 at Eisenhower

Lila Downs, a Grammy Award-winning Mexican-American singer-songwriter and social activist, will share her revolutionary spirit with a performance of traditional Latin American folk songs, Cuban son, rancheras, boleros and more at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

Purchase tickets, which are $42 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student and $32 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Downs, the daughter of a Mixtec cabaret singer and a Minnesota university professor, started her career at a young age by singing with mariachis. In addition to traditional Latin American genres, the trained opera singer uses blues, hip-hop and jazz to tell stories about indigenous people, cultural identity and issues of social justice.

Downs’ discography includes nine studio recordings with songs delivered in English, Spanish and the native languages of her mother’s homeland. She is the recipient of a 2012 Grammy Award for “Pecados y Milagros.” Other albums have garnered her three Latin Grammy Awards. In June, she released “Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo,” a collection of songs dominated by themes of female empowerment.

Watch Downs perform an NPR Tiny Desk Concert.

She has brought her energetic live performances to high-profile venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the White House, Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. She has acted in various films, including “Frida” and “Mariachi Gringo,” and her songs appear on soundtracks for the movies “Real Women Have Curves” and “Tortilla Soup.”

“Fluency in Spanish isn’t necessary to understand Lila Downs’ shape-shifting voice,” wrote a critic for the Associated Press. “It transcends language, carrying pure emotion.”

Artistic Viewpoints will not be offered before the performance. Instead, plans are being made for an alternative that focuses on the singer's native Mexico and the many cultures within it.

Find more information about Downs and the performance.

This presentation is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative, which seeks to: immerse an array of people in the performing arts; educate the community about cultures and art forms different from the familiar; influence thinking so we become a community that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion; and ensure the activities of the collaborative have a sustainable impact on the community. Funds from across Penn State and throughout the community support the initiative. The university’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee provides lead funding. Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support.