Lara Downes

Photo Credit: Max Barrett

Lara Downes

Pianist & NPR Media Personality

Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her dynamic work as a sought-after performer, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, activist, and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.

She is the creator and curator of the Rising Sun Music, a monthly recording series that sheds light on the music and stories of Black composers over the past 200 years, featuring a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists (including Ms. Downes). She is host of AMPLIFY with Lara Downes, a video series, now in its second season, for NPR Music that engages visionary Black musicians and artists in important topics confronting them today; and an evening host and Resident Artist at KDFC. She serves as the inaugural Artist Citizen in Residence for the Manhattan School of Music, as well as a Fellow of the Loghaven Artist Residency. Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sphinx Organization, the Classical Recording Foundation Award, the University of California Innovator of the Year Award, and the Center for Cultural Innovation, among others.

Her fierce commitment to activism and advocacy has her working with organizations including the ACLU, Feeding America, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, the Sphinx Organization, and Watts Learning Center. ​She is an Artist Ambassador for Headcount, a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy.

Learn more at

Scroll to Top