Mexican singer brings eclectic sound to A2

Concert Preview

Lila Downs

Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

At the Michigan Theater


The deep and soulful voice of Oaxacan musician Lila Downs carries with it a history and emotion that spans an entire nation, carrying a sound that is unique to the music of Mexico’s past and present. She will make her Ann Arbor debut this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

As a bilingual and biracial artist, Downs’s eclectic sound developed as a result of being raised in Oaxaca, Mexico and Minnesota, and by being exposed to the cultures of various indigenous groups of Mexico.

Her music combines contemporary blues and jazz with rap and a genre of traditional Mexican music called ranchera. These diverse musical influences, from different points in Mexico’s history, make it possible to remember Mexico’s past while still looking to its future.

In many of her songs, she reflects on stories of the Latino working class, a group of people that greatly affected the emergence of Mexican folk music and the transmission of the Mexican heritage from generation to generation. Her music reflects the struggles, achievements, hopes and fears her people experienced.

But there’s more to Downs’s music than a beautiful voice and exotic sound. There’s a spiritual element embedded within her haunting voice, one that speaks of history, heritage and tradition.

“There is something in my work that has a lot to do with the identity of a certain ethnic place,” Downs said in a YouTube video about her music. “I hope that my voice can only be some sort of a medium that is delivering something to people: that need to feel and that need to be moved.”

Priya Bali

Theater Preview

Classic musical restaged at the Power Center


Tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

At the Power Center


The most famous graduation song you’ve probably never heard is “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the climactic, moving piece from the songwriting team that long defined American musical theater, Rogers and Hammerstein. The song can be heard in “Carousel,” which opened last night in the School of Music, Theater and Dance’s final Power Center for the Performing Arts show of the season.

The show broke new ground when it was first performed in 1945, when true musicals – performances with songs integrated into theatrical stories, rather than variety shows or musical reviews – were just getting off the ground. In “Carousel,” a reserved young woman and an attractive man with a criminal past fall in love and make poor choices in a small mill town in 19th-century Maine. The story has unusually dark themes wrapped in hopeful, lush music, including several emotionally-charged male/female duets. Members of the cast gush about the beauty of the music and of the production as a whole.

“Carousel” was adapted from a play, “Liliom,” by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar. The musical keeps some of its elements, such as the abusive relationship between the main characters, but moves the setting from Hungary to Maine.

As part of “Curtain Call Fridays,” the director, Brent Wagner (Chair of Musical Theatre), and cast members will come onto the stage after the performance for a public discussion and question and answer session with the audience.

Abigail B. Colodner

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