The twin sisters in Ibeyi started their turn behind the Tiny Desk by singing an invocation of a West African Yoruba deity.
They come by their connection to the Afro-Cuban culture by way of their late father, Miguel "Anga" Diaz, an in-demand Cuban percussionist who was part of a vanguard musicians who reinvigorated Cuban music before he died prematurely at age 45 in 2006. The sisters, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz, carry that calling in their DNA, and how they've manifested it into their own art is nothing short of amazing.
As you see in this video, the twins (Ibeyi means 'twins" in Yoruban) perform their music with the batá drums associated with Yoruban sacred music and their elaborate vocal arrangements channel the call-and-response of traditional African music. The melding of their voices when they harmonize can be breathtaking, but the same can be said about the messages behind their songs, themes that inspire both inward introspection and celebrations of life.
The sisters truly have a magic that transcends cultures and languages. I watched them lead a sold-out crowd at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club through a Yoruban chant, and it was mind-blowing. Imagine that magical intensity in the small confines of NPR Music's offices and you get an idea of how transfixed we were.
And now you can experience that yourself. Enjoy.
Lisa-Kaindé Diaz, Naomi Díaz
Producers: Felix Contreras, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Alyse Young; Assistant Editor: Alyse Young; Production Assistants: Salvatore Maicki, Julien Bourdin; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR
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