African Music: Ibeyi Talk About Yoruba Roots

African Music: Ibeyi Talk About Yoruba Roots

Beyonce loves them, and Planetfem has been listening to these French-Cuban twin sisters for the past year, and we are sublimely, ethereally hooked. If you don’t know who we’re talking about, you better get to know!

The Ibeyi sisters brought out their self-titled debut album this year following on from the success of the hypnotic song with accompanying arresting video, ‘River’, which was an internet emotional bomb in 2014. ‘Ibeyi’ means ‘twins’ in Yoruba, the name of the Nigerian language their ancestors spoke before being brought over as slaves to Cuba by the Spanish in the 1700s. The girls define their sound as “contemporary Negro spirituals,” and their music is heavily influenced by and written in tribute to their late father, the acclaimed musician, Miguel “Anga” Diaz of Buena Vista Social Club. Upon their father’s death, the sisters studiedYoruba culture and to play their father’s signature instrument, the cajón and the Batá drum.

“Yoruba comes from Nigeria and Benin… when the slaves where shipped to Cuba the culture remained,” says Lisa-Kaindé Díaz. “You can find Yoruba culture in Brazil as well, and of course, in Cuba [where] it’s a huge part of the culture. Since we were little we were listening to [Yoruba] chants… The amazing part is that we started singing Yoruba at 16 in Paris and not in Cuba [laughs] with our teacher Orlando Poleo, who’s a huge percussionist. He’s the one that taught us how to sing Yoruba.”

We love them, and you will too. Check out this fascinating video of their music success so far, below.

 photo credit: Wikipedia

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