Beyoncé is ready to roar.
The global superstar is bringing together some of her favorite artists for The Lion King: The Gift, a musical ode to Disney’s live-action film. In addition to serving as the album’s executive producer and curator, she contributed new recordings.
Some of today’s most talented and important African artists pay tribute to the iconic film while bringing the authentic sounds of African music to the world.
According to a press release, The Lion King: The Gift is a “love letter to Africa” and “features a beautiful, multi-genre symphony, steeped in African influences from various corners of the Continent, with unexpected collaborations, pulsating rhythms and crisp production that celebrate the African diaspora.”
The first single, “Spirit,” will be available globally later tonight. The powerful track, performed by Beyoncé, was written by IIya Salmanzadeh, Timothy McKenzie, and Beyoncé, and produced by Beyoncé, IIya, and Labrinth. It appears in the film during a pivotal scene with Beyoncé’s character, Nala.
“This is sonic cinema,” said Beyoncé. “This is a new experience of storytelling. I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film. It is a mixture of genres and collaboration that isn’t one sound. It is influenced by everything from R&B, pop, hip-hop and Afro Beat.”
“I wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline,” she continued. “Each song was written to reflect the film’s storytelling that gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery, while listening to a new contemporary interpretation. It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me.”
The Lion King: The Gift is set for release on July 19, the same day the film hits theaters. A tracklisting and featured artists are forthcoming.
Beyoncé voices Nala in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1994 animated classic. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film also stars Donald Glover (Simba), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Billy Eichner (Timon), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), and Alfre Woodard (Sarabi).
Additionally, Beyoncé duets with Glover on “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” their remake of Elton John’s classic ballad, off the original motion picture soundtrack for The Lion King, which will be released digitally on July 11 at 8 a.m. PST.