Lila Downs on stage at the 2012 Latin Grammy Awards. (Courtesy

Oaxaquena Native Lila Downs Stole the Show at Latin Grammy Awards


The 13th annual Latin Grammy awards show, which took place November 15 in Las Vegas, was business as usual, with one exception: The performance of Lila Downs, an L.A.-based Oaxaqueña Native.

That, at least, was the opinion of Gabriela Guzman, whose account of the show for criticized its focus on commercially-successful acts with the broadest appeal. But Downs' performance, distinguished by dancers wearing colorful day-of-the-dead style costumes as well as traditional dress, was "absolutely dazzling," according to Guzman.

"The performance was riveting, full of energy and the kind that makes you want to get up and dance," Guzman continued. "For people who had no idea who she was before the Latin Grammy's, they do now."

Downs won a Latin Grammy that night, for best folkloric album, for her album Pecados y Milagros. She previously received a Latin Grammy in 2004, and was also nominated for one in 2008. Her music is described in her official biography at as a "highly unique reinvention of traditional Mexican music" that often draws on traditions from "ancient worlds, when Lila taps into the native Mesoamerican music and language of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl cultures."

Downs was born in Oaxaca to a Scottish-American father, who was an art professor and cinematographer, and a Mixtec mother, a singer. The Mixtec are one of the two largest indigenous groups in Oaxaca (the other being Zapotec), a region that is home to over half of Mexico's indigenous-language speakers.

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