Story at a glance
- Beyoncé's upcoming album “Black Is King” is a reimagining of Disney's "The Lion King," in which the artist voiced the character Nala.
- The album’s message takes on new meaning amid recent protests against racism and police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
- The imagery and music of the album pays homage to the ancestry of Black Americans.
When Beyoncé originally filmed "Black is King," it was intended as a companion piece to the soundtrack for "The Lion King," released just a year ago. In that time, the world has changed, with the onset of a global pandemic and deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans that sparked protests across the United States.
But a true artist’s work never grows old, it simply takes on new meaning. Fans of Beyoncé are expecting no less from her upcoming visual album, scheduled for release on July 31 on Disney+.
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The newly released trailer features celebrity cameos from Kelly Rowland, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell and Jay-Z, and introduces a new narrative. It tells the story of a young black boy and his journey through betrayal, love and self-identity as he grows into a man, guided by his ancestors and the reimagined lessons of the classic Disney tale.
“The film is a story for the ages that informs and rebuilds the present. A reunion of cultures and shared generational beliefs. A story of how the people left most broken have an extraordinary gift and a purposeful future,” said Disney in a release.
Beyoncé, the star, writer, co-director and producer of the album, shared a heartfelt message on her Instagram account in June that nodded to recent events that have put Black stories at the center of a national discussion. The artist has also spoken out on the police killing of George Floyd, calling for justice and promoting several petitions related to his death.
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I typically keep comments short and sweet, but I just watched the trailer with my family and I’m excited. please don’t get me hype “Black Is King” is a labor of love. It is my passion project that I have been filming, researching and editing day and night for the past year. I’ve given it my all and now it’s yours. It was originally filmed as a companion piece to “The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry. I could never have imagined that a year later, all the hard work that went into this production would serve a greater purpose. The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. We are all in search of safety and light. Many of us want change. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books. With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. I spent a lot of time exploring and absorbing the lessons of past generations and the rich history of different African customs. While working on this film, there were moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed, like many others on my creative team, but it was important to create a film that instills pride and knowledge. I only hope that from watching, you leave feeling inspired to continue building a legacy that impacts the world in an immeasurable way. I pray that everyone sees the beauty and resilience of our people. This is a story of how the people left MOST BROKEN have EXTRAORDINARY gifts.❤️✊ Thank you to Blitz, Emmanuel, Ibra, Jenn, Pierre, Dikayl, Kwasi and all the brilliant creatives. Thank you to all at Disney for giving this Black woman the opportunity to tell this story. This experience has been an affirmation of a grander purpose. My only goal is that you watch it with your family and that it gives you pride. Love y’all, B
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"The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey," she said in her Instagram post. “We are all in search of safety and light. Many of us want change. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books.”
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