Lila Downs, the Voice of Frida Kahlo
Lila Downs grew up in the Sierra Madre mountains of southern Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca, and also in Minnesota. Her father, a Scottish-American cinematographer/painter, came to Mexico originally to make a documentary about the blue-winged teal's annual migration from Canada to the Yucatan Peninsula. He met Anita, Lila's mother, a Mixtec-Indian woman, who sang in Mexico City.
Her career as a musician began when she started singing mariachi songs at the age of eight. When she turned 14, Lila started voice lessons in Los Angeles, continued in Oaxaca City at Bellas Artes, and moved back to Minnesota to study voice and anthropology at the University of Minnesota.
Downs later toured with the Cadetes de Yodoyuxi, a "tambora" band, and La Trova Serrana, singing about Zapotec community and values. She joined saxophonist Paul Cohen in the club scenes of Oaxaca and Philadelphia.
Downs' most recent tours have included performances in Mexico, South America, the United States and Europe. She currently lives in Coyoacan and collaborates with musicians from Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay. Downs performs her own compositions and also taps into the vast reservoir of native Mesoamerican music, singing songs in the Indian Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl languages of Mexico.
Rita Moreno, Narrator
Rita Moreno has appeared on stage, television and in concert and film for more than 40 years. She is the only female to have won all four of the most prestigious show-business awards - the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy - an achievement that is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records. The Oscar was for her performance as Anita in the 1962 motion picture "West Side Story." The two Emmys were for a 1977 variety appearance on "The Muppet Show"and for a dramatic guest appearance on "The Rockford Files" in 1978. The Tony was for her 1973 triumph on Broadway as Googie Gomez in "The Ritz." And, the Grammy was for her 1972 performance on "The Electric Company" album for children, which was based on the long-running television show of the same name.
Among her most recent projects are performances in "Cosby Mystery Series," the highly acclaimed HBO series "Oz," Anne Meara's "After Play," and Circle Repertory's production of "Size of the World." In 2002 Moreno appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in a production of "Candide."
Amy Stechler, Producer/Director/Writer/Editor
Amy Stechler co-produced, wrote and edited the early films of Ken Burns: "Brooklyn Bridge" (nominated for an Academy Award), "The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God" and "Huey Long." She also served as an editing consultant for "The Civil War." Stechler is president of Daylight Films.
Maia Harris, Co-Producer
Maia Harris has produced, co-produced and written numerous documentaries for PBS, including "Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel," "Storyville: The Naked Dance" and "Listening to Children: A Moral Journey with Robert Coles." She is the recipient of two Emmy awards and an Emmy nomination.
Victor Zamudio-Taylor, Co-Producer
Victor Zamudio-Taylor has spent many years as an international curator of Latin American art, and has written numerous articles and catalogues. Zamudio-Taylor was a Rockefeller Foundation Senior Research Fellow at the National Museum of American Art and the Archives of American Art in Washington D.C. He is an advisor to the Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photography Collection in Mexico City.