Music Spotlight: Ibeyi

Parisian twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz make up the musical duo known as Ibeyi, which means “twins” in Yoruba.

The girls combined their Cuban and African roots to create a musical blend of electro doom soul.

You might have seen them in Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade on a Louisiana farm.


Ibeyi in Beyonce’s Lemonade. 


The duo has also performed at Coachella multiple times. 

I discovered Ibeyi while I was binge watching NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk’ series. Suddenly, two Afro-Latinas came onto the screen and began to sing an invocation to a Yoruba deity.

Tiny Desk concerts are already intimate because they are, well, tiny. However, Ibeyi brought a new kind of intimacy to the show. Following their first song, they sang a lullaby for their niece.

It is apparent that the duo does not really sing for an audience, but rather they sing for themselves. This creates a much more authentic feel to Ibeyi’s sound.

There is something awe-inspiring about watching women be so confident in their natural selves, especially in an industry which thrives on dreams of luxury and standards of intangible perfection. It’s truly amazing to witness.

After watching my new favorite artists, I had to know who these ladies were.

The twins were born in Havana, but they grew up in Paris and are of Nigerian descent. Unsurprisingly, they have a great musical background.  

Their father was the dynamic Cuban conguero Miguel “Angá” Diaz. Diaz was a Grammy award-winning Latin jazz percussionist.

In 2006, their father suffered an unexpected heart attack in his Barcelona home and passed away at the age of 45.

Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi were in their early teens when their dad passed. Still mourning Diaz, the twins’ mother encouraged them to compose and perform music.

Starting out in their neighborhood, the duo performed for friends and small venues. Eventually, they were playing for Paris at large.

By 2013, they were signed by XL Recording in London. XL has signed artists such as Adele, Radio, and The White Stripes.

Xl Recording’s owner, Richard Russell, fell in love with Ibeyi’s sound after he saw a video of them on YouTube singing “Mama Says.”

Ibeyi released their self-titled album in 2015, and their sophomore album “Ash” was released in September of 2017.

Regarding the creation of Ibeyi’s first album, Lisa-Kaindé stated:

“People think you have to listen to a lot of music to make an album. But what you have to do more than anything is read books. That’s what Richard told us right at the start. He spoke at length about Damon Albarn [of Blur and Gorillaz] and the way he would shut himself up with a mountain of books to write. Because the hardest thing in music, he said, is the lyrics.”

Ibeyi will be performing in Brooklyn on August 26th for this year’s Afropunk festival!



Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons.



About Shelby Hawkins

My name is Shelby, like the mustang, and I am an avid lover of photography, literature and desserts.
I identify as a proud feminist and Pan-Africanist; hopefully that manifests in my writing.

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