Live Recordings: Ibeyi (Mama Says/Better in Tune with the Infinite)

“Ibeyi” – twins, in Yoruba.

Born in Paris, sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz, twenty-two years old possess that kind of virtuosic magic that is impossible to discount, or miss. Their father is the late Cuban percussionist, Anga Diaz, their mother, the Venezuelan- French singer, Maya Dagnino, who appeared in their heart-rending video for ‘Mama Says’. (To be blessed among women)

Such sweetness and strength in this rendition, I especially like the way Lisa’s vocal performance – all emphasised consonants, “gone” – is imperfect and the way the sisters close their eyes, as they sing together. How Naomi taps out the beat on the drum, on her body. The simple lyrics that are perfect, while appearing to be a little lost in translation (‘I’m afraid that she’d be hurt and .. sink’)

I appreciated this comment below the ‘Mama Says’ video from Monroe Rodriguez Singh

I love this group because they write in metaphor based on Afro-Caribbean tradition spiritual music/stories and pair it with their own lives and music. “The man is gone/And mama says/That she can’t live without him. ...There is no life without him.” In this song, at first glance it’s about the loss of their father and how their mother is dealing with that loss. Towards the end, they sing a song to Elegua and the lyrics “the man is gone, there is no life without him” bring new meaning because Elegua, is the Yoruban orisha of communication, roads. He is the bridge between the spiritual world and the material world. He is the first orisha to be saluted in any ceremony. So in essence, when he is out of the equation, there is no ceremony, no communication to the divine, no path, so there is no life without him.

During the same performance recorded at Seattle’s KEXP studios, they transformed and unearthed Jay Electronica’s ‘Better in Tune with the Infinite’ –

Here is an entire, albeit short, concert by Ibeyi filmed in Paris at Le Ring last year.

I have read a number of really lovely, interesting, evocative articles based on interviews with the Diaz sisters, take this one for example by Jazz Monroe published in The Skinny in 2015.  (There are many more).