Here at Remezcla, we always make an effort to ask our favorite artists what their influences are. It’s a good way of learning how today’s Latinx musicians use tradition as reference points in their work. But beyond the iconic artists that have shaped the lives of so many music fans, we decided it would be powerful to ask our favorite producers, singers, and guitarists about specific albums that have moved them.
In the latest installment of our Top 5 series, we spoke to Mexican singer-songwriter Lila Downs about some of her favorite records. After releasing a strong critique of Trump in the form of “The Demagogue” last year, we thought we’d sit down and dig into her influences.
Check out her picks and some background on the selections below:
Miles Davis - 'Kind of Blue'
“This album was played in my home constantly when I was growing up. It incites openness of the mind and the soul.”
Oscar Chávez- '16 Éxitos de Oro'
“This classic Mexican singer-songwriter composed poetry and subversive lyrics using folkloric Mexican music from different regions. It was the first influence I had as far as social critique in Spanish.”
Bob Dylan - 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'
“My Anglo-American dad would sit with me and listen to the lyrics and analyze the meaning of his verses. Social critique fascinated me.”
Lola Beltrán - 'Canciones populares'
“[This album] was the first ranchera and mariachi that influenced me. The movies in which she sang impacted my aesthetic development as an artist. Her contralto influenced my musical journey.”
Mercedes Sosa - 'Serenata para la tierra de uno'
“I left music to study anthropology when I heard her voice in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. I returned to music convinced that I could change the world with protest songs.”