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Anna Lila Downs Sánchez, 19 September 1968, Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico. Downs musical heritage is rich and diverse; her father is of Anglo-Scottish ancestry and has taught art, her mother is Mexican-Mixtec and has worked as a cabaret singer. Raised first in Mexico, then California and Minnesota, she lived in two cultures following her parents divorce. She sang as a child, entertaining with mariachi bands in her homeland, and while living in Los Angeles in her early teens, studied singing formally. Eventually, Downs studied voice and anthropology at the University of Minnesota, graduating from there in the early 90s. She sang in clubs in Oaxaca and also in the USA, in the latter case teaming up with jazz artist Paul Cohen in Philadelphia. Their musical relationship extended beyond performing into composition and eventually transcended music when they married.
After recording two jazzy, self-released cassettes in the mid-90s,...