"This is sonic cinema," Beyoncé said about the project. "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."
Hours after the announcement, the singer-songwriter released the album's first single, "Spirit." The track will also appear on The Lion King's digital soundtrack, which is now available for preorder. The Lion King: The Gift will arrive July 19, the same night the film hits U.S. theaters.
Beyoncé explained her intention behind the curated album and how she chose which artists to feature.
"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."
You can stream "Spirit" now on all major platforms.
Beyoncé, who voices The Lion King character of Nala, is part of a star-studded cast that includes Donald Glover as Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa. The reboot was directed by Jon Favreau, who spoke about his experience working with Beyoncé as well as a mysterious song she recorded for the film. (It's unclear if he was teasing "Spirit.")
"She's incredibly engaged and committed, and so what was wonderful was that when we did get together to work, she was exceptional, as you can imagine in her performance, but also really gives everything a lot of thought," he told Fandango. "She's very hard-working and puts a lot of thought into things, and would often be so extremely well-prepared that she was clearly working on a lot on this even when we weren't together [...] Understanding who [Beyoncé] is and what she represents to so many people and the fact that she's collaborating with me on this really helps differentiate it from previous productions."