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The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo
Frida KahloLife of FridaWorks of ArtUnderstanding Frida TodayEducational GuidesAbout the FilmResources


In This Section:
Broadcast Finder
Rita Moren Bio
Lila Downs Bio
Production Bios
Production Credits
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Lila Downs, the voice of Frida Kahlo
Lila Downs, the voice of Frida Kahlo Lila Downs grew up in the Sierra Madre mountains of southern Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca, and also in Minnesota. Her father, a Scottish-American cinematographer/painter, came to Mexico originally to make a documentary about the blue-winged teal's annual migration from Canada to the Yucatan Peninsula. He met Anita, Lila's mother, a Mixtec-Indian woman, who sang in Mexico City.

Her career as a musician began when she started singing mariachi songs at the age of eight. When she turned 14, Lila started voice lessons in Los Angeles, continued in Oaxaca City at Bellas Artes, and moved back to Minnesota to study voice and anthropology at the University of Minnesota.

Downs later toured with the Cadetes de Yodoyuxi, a "tambora" band, and La Trova Serrana, singing about Zapotec community and values. She joined saxophonist Paul Cohen in the club scenes of Oaxaca and Philadelphia.

Downs' most recent tours have included performances in Mexico, South America, the United States and Europe. She currently lives in Coyoacan and collaborates with musicians from Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay. Downs performs her own compositions and also taps into the vast reservoir of native Mesoamerican music, singing songs in the Indian Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl languages of Mexico.

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