A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ibeyi: Twin sister making music in English, Spanish, and Yoruba


My ears were in joy when my friends introduced me to Ibeyi. Ibeyi is a French/Cuban musical duo composed by twin sisters. They sing in English, Spanish and the language of Yoruba (brought to Cuba via slave ships from Nigeria and Benin). They are named after the santería orisha twins. Ibeyi, a word that means “twins” in Yorub, sing to soft tunes that mix electronic with piano and drums. The twins described their music to The Guardian as “contemporary negro spirituals”. 

And yet learning about the duo didn’t only bring joy to my ears but also to my soul because of their acknowledgment of their Afro-Latino  roots. Seeing women who look like me perform performing simply gives me life like nothing else can...probably because even when Latinas are winning, those Latinas don't really look like me.

Las gemelas, Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz, are the daughters of Miguel 'Angá' Díaz, a well-known Cuban conguero. Lisa-Kaindé told The Guardian that the music they create helps them address pain, “It’s like living your pain again, but winning. At the end of every song I’m like, ‘I won the war, I won this pain, this is over’” she said. In an interview with Nowness, Ibeyi revealed that their debut album will be about family and prayer. Both are open during concerts about their black spirituality.

This is evident in their song “Mama Says,” where they sing about their mother’s pain over losing their father. The music video for this song actually featured their mother and a chant which all three of them, mother and daughters, sang in unison. In many ways, I’d interpret this song as a form of feminist power and resilience.


Ibeyi signed with XL Recordings, the same label that released M.I.A.'s Kala. They will hopefully gain more attention once their debut LP  is released on February 16th, 2015. 

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