Throughout her career, Lila Downs has incorporated indigenous Mexican influences into her music… And now she’s being recognized for being a voice for the country’s indigenous population.
The 44-year-old Mexican singer/songwriter, who has recorded songs in indigenous languages like Mixtec, Zapotec, Mayan, Nahuatl and P’urhépecha, has been honored by the organization Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders for her work spreading awareness about indigenous people.
Downs, who divides her time between New York and her native Mexico, accepted the Yoloxochitl Award from last year’s recipient, chef Zarela Martinez, who helped pioneer Mexican cuisine in the Big Apple.
Being honored by her compatriots “is an opportunity to make known that a very great effort is being made to educate and share cultural spaces that exist for the Mexican community,” the Latin Grammy-winning artist told Efe.
After picking up her award, Downs entertained the audience by performing several of her songs.
Every year, Mano a Mano honors a person “who represents who we are,” the organization’s executive director, said Juan Carlos Aguirre.
“Lila represents a very important segment of Mexico, with all its cultural diversity,” he said.
Born in southern Mexico to an Anglo-American father and a Mixtec Indian mother, Downs fuses indigenous and traditional music with genres such as folk, blues, jazz, hip hop and rock.
She is currently touring the United States to showcase her latest album, Pecados y milagros.