Beyonce's new squad members: meet the up-and-comers who feature in Lemonade

Beyonce's new squad members: meet the up-and-comers who feature in Lemonade

Everybody's talking about Queen Bey's surprise release, and what it all means. But there's also a lot of interest in the lesser known faces that appear in the "visual album"

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Beyonce opened her Formation World Tour in Miami on Wednesday, following the release of her visual album "Lemonade".
Photo: AP

Hi, it’s Beyonce. Do you want to come star in my music video?

We are wondering if the calls went something like that. While many musicians surround themselves with unnamed extras and background dancers, Beyonce’s talk-of-the-town visual album Lemonade was filled with cameos from prominent, powerful women. There was tennis pro and beauty boundary-breaker Serena Williams and Disney actress-turned-Barbie-doll Zendaya. But you might not immediately recognise the others; they are artists and activists who are all making a name for themselves, but aren’t quite household figures - yet. Appearing alongside Queen B is sure to only help their street cred, so we can expect these women to grow even more recognizable. Here are the Beyonce-approved ladies worth knowing.

Ibeyi - sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz - are third-culture kids who sing in three languages.
Photo: TNS

Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz

These twin sisters make up the musical duo Ibeyi. When their self-titled debut album was released last year, reviewers found it difficult to put a label on them. Lisa-Kaindé sings and plays piano while Naomi sings and plays the cajón and bata drums, instruments with Spanish and Cuban roots. The twins were raised in Paris, but their father was a well-known Cuban percussionist. Along with their choice of instruments, they honour their heritage by singing in English, French and Yoruba, a language spoken primarily in West Africa.

Chloe and Halle Bailey

It seems Beyonce is very into backing sister duos. The Bailey sisters, Chloe, 17, and Halle, 16, professionally known as Chloe x Halle”, started their career by winning Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing: Season 5. They then performed on Disney’s Austin & Ally; Ellen DeGeneres had them on her show; and fans fell for them on YouTube, where they churned out soulful cover songs that had a knack for going viral. Last year, after their cover of Beyonce’s Pretty Hurts garnered more than 10 million views, Beyonce signed them to her company Parkwood Entertainment. In March, when the sisters performed at the White House during the Easter Egg Roll, Beyonce and Jay Z showed up to cheer them on. Earlier this month, Chloe and Halle released their first single, Drop.

Amandla Stenberg is outspoken about race, and gender identity.
Photo: AP

Amandla Stenberg

You probably recognize Stenberg as the actress who played Rue in The Hunger Games movies. The 17-year-old is also a filmmaker. She wrote, directed and shot her first short movie at age 15. She recently released Blue Girls Burn Fast, a short film about a girl in the foster-care system. The project was for her application to New YorkUniversity, where she’ll soon attend film school. Stenberg is outspoken on her Tumblr and in interviews about her gender identity. She is non-binary, which means she does not conform to the two-gender definition of being either only male or only female.

Warsan Shire

Throughout the visual version of Lemonade, Beyonce quotes hauntingly beautiful poetry by 27-year-old Shire. Some lines are taken right from the Somali-British writer’s previous works while some, it seems from the video’s credits, Shire wrote specifically for Lemonade. Here’s how New Yorker magazine recently described this up-and-comer: Every generation of writers and readers has mourned the shrinking place of poetry in our lives, and they may not be wrong. They also may not be looking in the right places. Young poets are on Tumblr and Twitter, composing affecting and funny verse as short as a hundred and forty characters and also stretching much longer ... Of this new genre of poets, Warsan Shire ... is a laureate. According to Shire’s Twitter, a collection of her work will be published this year.

Michaela DePrince

DePrince is known for her art and her story. The 21-year-old ballet dancer is the co-author of the book Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. She grew up orphaned in a civil war-torn Sierra Leone. DePrince has vitiligo, a condition that causes discoloration of the skin. Because of it, she was abused and neglected in the orphanage, where they called her devil’s child. She was later adopted and raised in the United States, where she became a ballerina. Today, DePrince is a member of the Dutch National Ballet. You can watch her dance two minutes into Beyonce’s Freedom featuring Kendrick Lamar.

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