Musician Lara Downes Debuts NPR Series Saturday

Lara Downes in promotion video
Musician Lara Downes explains her new National Public Radio Music series “Amplify with Lara Downes” in a promotional video.

Lara Downes, who has long been a performing artist at the UC Davis Mondavi Center, launches a national show this Saturday, Oct. 17, on NPR Music.

Amplify with Lara Downes, promises to offer intimate and revealing conversations in a video format with leading Black, Indigenous and people of color, or BIPOC, musicians.

‘Amplify with Lara Downes’

Every other Saturday on, YouTube, and social media platforms 

Oct. 17: Rhiannon Giddens — singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, artistic director of the Silk Road Ensemble 

Oct. 31: Anthony McGill — principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, 2020 Avery Fisher Prize winner

Nov. 14: Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family — award-winning musical siblings, releasing their first family recording on Decca Classics 

Nov. 28: Davóne Tines — bass-baritone, innovator, composer, co-creator of The Black Clown 

Dec. 12: Helga Davis — multidisciplinary artist, actress, singer, composer, and host of WNYC’s Helga podcast 


The biweekly series, created and hosted by Downes, will offer conversations with visionary artists of color making art that is both “in and of a time of transformation, turmoil, representations and reflection,” according to a news release. The series is co-produced by NPR Music’s Tom Huizenga. It will appear on NPR’s YouTube and social media platforms.

Said Downes: “In this time of our collective reckoning about historical inequities in American life and art, I’m excited to amplify the voices of extraordinary artists of color, shining a bright light on a diverse and rich future.”

Initial guests scheduled to appear on the show include instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, clarinetist Anthony McGill, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family, vocalist Davóne Tines and multidisciplinary artist Helga Davis.

Downes, a consummate pianist, has long held an interest in American music, especially music by African American composers. 

More information on Downes and the broadcast here.

Subscribe to the Arts Blog

Primary Category