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Beyoncé Releases “Spirit,” the First Song From Her New Lion King–Themed Album

Beyonce at the premiere Disney Lion King remake this week in Hollywood.
Beyoncé at the premiere of Disney’s Lion King remake this week in Hollywood. Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Shortly after the premiere screening of Disney’s Lion King remake, Beyoncé announced her forthcoming album, The Lion King: The Gift, and released its first single, “Spirit.”

According to a statement released by the singer, The Lion King: The Gift will not be a traditional Beyoncé album. Instead, Beyoncé describes The Gift as a “new experience of storytelling” that she calls “sonic cinema.” In addition to new “recordings” (yes, plural) from the singer, it will feature musicians personally “curated” by Beyoncé, 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.”

“Spirit” opens with Swahili chanting (“long live the king,” in translation) before launching into a choir-backed R&B power ballad that manages to call back to Carmen Twillie’s original performance of “Circle of Life” while incorporating contemporary and classic elements of pop, R&B, and gospel. The single, which was written and produced by Beyoncé in collaboration with Ilya Salmanzadeh and Timothy McKenzie, will appear on the The Gift as well as the The Lion King’s official soundtrack. The song also appears in the film, where it plays in a “pivotal scene” for the singer’s character, according to the press release.

The singer has yet to reveal her list of chosen collaborators or the track list of the upcoming album. Luckily, fans will not have too wait long to find out: The Lion King will hit theaters on July 18 followed by The Lion King: The Gift the very next day.