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Lila Downs is all over the map–and back. This 30-something daughter of an American professor father and a Mixtec mother spent her youngest years in Oaxaca region of Mexico before moving to Southern California and eventually to Minnesota. In her first stint at college, she studied classical singing before dropping out and becoming a Deadhead. She later went back to school, received degrees in anthropology and voice, and returned to Mexico, where she got involved with New Jersey musician Paul Cohen, who had been playing in a circus band. In 2002, she got her first big break with a role in Frida and a spot on its soundtrack. Her husky-to-piercing vocals in the film were captivating, and Downs’ striking resemblance to the film’s subject, artist Frida Kahlo, didn’t dent her subsequent American acclaim. Her appearance at the 2003 Oscars dueting with Caetano Veloso didn’t hurt, either. Downs has released five albums that, though unbalanced songwise, have always showcased her dramatic voice, her liberal feminist politics, and her eclectic if sometimes forced approach to blending the worlds of folk and pop. She’s added a rap to “This Land Is Your Land,” sung in a variety of Mexican-Indian languages, and given “La Cucaracha” a psychedelic-reggae beat. Her latest multicultural endeavor, La Cantina, features a few upbeat Tex-Mex polkas among a number of tears-in-tequila ranchera ballads that she renders in the genre’s operatic manner over brass, programmed beats, accordion, harp, and more. Downs performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. $18–$34. (301) 581-5100. (Steve Kiviat)