By Helena Rodriguez
From deeply-moving to toe-tapping to whimsical, Golden-Globe winning songstress Lila Downs charmed a Clovis audience Tuesday night at Marshall Auditorium.
Downs’ concert was well-attended, featuring unusual yet captivating numbers that ranged from jazzy to folksy to tropical Latin rhythms. Several items in her repertoire can be heard in motion pictures.
The audience of about 400 included a mix of listeners. Some knew of the Mexican-born, Scottish-American singer who croons in a mix of indigenous Mexican dialects and gained fame singing “Burn it Blue” at the Academy Awards last spring. For others, Tuesday’s performance was their first opportunity to hear her music.
“Lila Downs is great. Her voice is very rich,” said Joyce Burch of Clovis.
“She emits a lot of emotion. I have no clue what she talks about when she sings in Spanish and other languages, but you can feel the emotion come through,” Burch said during intermission.
Burch also praised Celso Duarte, who accompanied Downs in her performance.
“That guy with her on the harp was, like, ‘Wow!’” Burch said. “There are no words to describe him either. His music felt like magic.”
Downs’ performance was a part of Clovis Community Colleges’ Fall Cultural Arts Series. During her performance, which marked her New Mexico debut, she sung songs from her new CD, “Una Sangre” and numbers that were included in the movies, “Frida,” based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and “Tortilla Soup,” a movie starring Elizabeth Pena about a Mexican American master chef who loses his taste for food, but not life.
One concert-goer, Manuel Cedillo, and his girlfriend, Jessica Vermillion, came from Lubbock to see Downs perform. Cedillo said he has followed Downs to attend her area concerts, most recently seeing her perform in San Angelo this past summer.
“I don’t think her music will go mainstream. It is for people who appreciate musicianship,” said Cedillo, who said he formerly played with the Texas Tech University mariachi band.
“She has a wonderful voice and everybody here tonight will be moved by it, whether they understand the language or not,” Cedillo said.
Jessica Ramirez of Portales won a ticket to Tuesday night’s concert from a contest on Mix 107.5 FM radio and said she was elated to attend.
“I was listening to a commentary on Lila Downs on the radio and that made me want to attend the concert,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t realize until then that I had heard her music before in the movie ‘Tortilla Soup.’”
Ramirez said she particularly liked Downs’ style because many of her songs are dedicated to immigrants who came from Mexico to the United States to work in restaurants and in the fields, picking crops.