Lila Downs On Performing Her Civic Duty With “The Demagogue”
Chicana singer Lila Downs premiered a brazen song over the weekend titled “The Demagogue” during Univision and Fusion’s RiseUp as One concert, billed as a celebration of diversity, unity and music. The anti-Donald Trump track found the Grammy Award-winning artist blasting the Republican nominee for his hateful rhetoric toward immigrants and communities of color, something she feels too many are harmfully unaffected by.
“It’s fascinating, really, that this [election] is happening in my lifetime. I was interested in creating some verses that spoke about this person who wishes to bring fame unto himself and make himself great,” Lila tells VIBE VIVA. “[Trump] speaks about making America great, but he’s mainly about making himself great. And everybody seems to be playing into that game.”
“There’s a blue-eyed devil man/ Thinks he’s king of the world/ He’s a bully, a salesman/ Selling fear and hate/ Who do you think you are? … No to that wall/ I’m cutting all the hate and planting love,” she sings in the tune inspired by “a societal composition of people who need a scapegoat.”
Another variable at play behind her newest single, which properly debuts this Friday (Oct. 21), is the fear of losing collective power. “I see the elections that has happened in Colombia, and I think to myself that it’s my civic duty to bring this conversation to the masses. I hope that Latinos are out there voting—all kinds of people, really, and women.”
She goes on to reiterate the danger behind supporting the Trump campaign: “People need to be concerned with the severity of the situation. I think it’s an important time right now, certainly for the Latino community. There are a lot of Latinos who are interested in seeing Trump become president; a lot of people don’t realize the severity of voting for someone like him. It really does scare me.”
Lila, however, finds hope in the thought that she has a voice that matters, describing her performance on the U.S.-Mexico border as a eureka of sorts. “I think the moment when I did sing the song, people were taking in the information. I think [Latinos] are afraid to take things seriously and stand up for something. We come from countries that have a lot of problems; we are often reprimanded, killed, or shut up one way or another. The Latin media, you see, have asked me if I’m afraid of making such a statement, which tells me that my speaking up is all the more important.”