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Lila Downs Celebrates Mexico's Culinary And Cultural Sides With 'Al Chile'

Lila Downs celebrates the chile on her new album.
Courtesy of the artist
Lila Downs celebrates the chile on her new album.

At this point, Lila Downs now has the kind of artistic stature among her fans that she has for the women she has celebrated throughout her career. She has always paid tribute to great voices and artist such as Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa and even Joan Baez. After almost two decades of celebrating Mexican and Latin American culture on her albums, Downs has become expert at exploring culture through rhythms, lyrics and dance.

Downs stopped by Alt.Latino to chat about her latest record, Al Chile. The album's 11 tracks are both a sonic and culinary adventure into the deepest part of the collective Mexican psyche through the pepper. Just as different parts of Mexico reflect different indigenous cultures, the chile gets very different uses depending on where it is prepared.

Each song also reflects Mexican diversity in the way Downs and producer Camilo Lara have enlisted various traditional Mexican bandas for the musical backdrop. There is just as much history in these saxophone and clarinet-driven bands as there is in the food they celebrate on this album.

Once again, Lila Downs has convinced us to go along with her musical and cultural vision and, as always, we are all the more richer for it.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.