As fans watched Beyoncé walk The Lion King premiere’s red carpet Tuesday night, they were also waiting at the edge of their seats for a first taste of her forthcoming album The Lion King: The Gift.
The new single “Spirit” is here, coinciding perfectly with the film’s world premiere in L.A. and coming to us fresh off Beyoncé’s musical ode to the classic story of The Lion King.
The full album, which is separate from the film’s soundtrack itself, will be produced and curated by Beyoncé herself, and will be released July 18, the same day the movie hits theaters.
Uplifting and laced with Beyoncé’s powerful voice, the song will be featured during a pretty pivotal and emotional scene in the movie that involves Beyoncé’s character, Nala.
The Lion King’s official Twitter account teased the album as “featuring global artists and steeped in the sounds of Africa.”
“With The Lion King: The Gift album, Beyoncé curated a masterful recording, a robust soundscape bringing together some of her favorite artists with the most talented and important African artists of the day to both pay tribute to the iconic film and bring the authentic sounds of African music to the world,” a press release explains.
Queen Bey herself described the album as not only a love letter to African music but also a form of “sonic cinema.”
“This is a new experience of storytelling,” she said in a statement. “ I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film.”
Pulling from “R&B, pop, hip-hop and Afro Beat,” Beyoncé promises us a robust, multi-genre album full of authenticity and heart, as well as the pulsating rhythms and crisp production that celebrate the African diaspora, and its diverse cultures and narratives.
“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.”
Director Jon Favreau confirmed to Fandango back in June that Beyoncé had written and performed a song “in the spirit of the production” for the movie. Judging by his word choice, it seems like this is that song.
Beyoncé teamed up with South African composer Lebo M. and legendary film score composer Hans Zimmer to bring the song to life and imbue it with “the sounds of Africa.”
“They were all collaborating with her and helping to bring this new piece of music into a film where there’s already a very established musical personality to the piece,” Favreau, also the director of The Jungle Book, told Fandango. “So it was nice of them to have them working with her to allow the new song to feel organically a part of the new production.”
The song was also co-written by the Swedish producer behind Ariana Grande’s “Problem” and Jennifer Lopez’s “First Love,” IIya Salmanzadeh, and English musician Timothy McKenzie, aka Labrinth.
But since she stars as Nala, this won’t be the only song we’ll get from Beyoncé. She also sings a fresh, new rendition of the Disney classic “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” alongside her co-star Donald Glover, who plays Simba.
Elton John is also slated to add a song titled “Never Too Late” to the soundtrack.
Give “Spirit” a listen for yourself below.