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Beyoncé Releases an Empowering New Song, "Spirit," for The Lion King Soundtrack
And she's dropping a whole separate album inspired by the film.
- Beyoncé has shared a new song, "Spirit," which will appear in The Lion King , which hits theaters on July 19.
- The song will also appear on a new album, The Lion King: The Gift , which was executive produced by the singer and features original music inspired by the film.
- The Gift will be released on July 19, while the official film soundtrack will drop on July 11.
After weeks of anticipation, Beyoncé has released a new original song for the 2019 remake of The Lion King . The track, called "Spirit," appears in the film, where the singer portrays Nala opposite Donald Glover's Simba.
But because Beyoncé is Beyoncé, this single won't be her only release inspired by the retelling of Disney's animated classic. She also executive produced an album of original songs inspired by the film, called The Lion King: The Gift . (This is similar to how rapper Kendrick Lamar released a Black Panther -inspired album separate from the official soundtrack.)
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"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 singer said in a statement. The resulting work is a mix of stories and genres, including hip-hop, R&B, and Afro Beat, she said. The full track list and features list have not yet been revealed.
Aside from The Gift , the official film soundtrack for 2019's The Lion King was produced by Hans Zimmer and will drop on July 11.
The gospel track "Spirit" came out last night, the same night Beyoncé and Blue Ivy attended The Lion King 's premiere in L.A. The song was co-written by the singer, Ilya Salmanzadeh, and Timothy McKenzie. Listen above and follow along with the lyrics below.
Yeah yeah, and the wind is talking Yeah yeah, for the very first time With a melody that pulls you towards it Paintin' pictures of paradise
Sayin' rise up to the light in the sky, yeah Watch the light lift your heart up Burn your flame through the night
Woah, spirit Watch the heavens open, yeah Spirit, can you hear it callin'? Yeah Yeah, yeah, and the waters crashin' Trying to keep your head up high While you're trembling, that's when the magic happens And the stars gather by, by your side
Sayin' rise up to the light in the sky, yeah Let the light lift your heart up Burn your flame through the night
Yeah, spirit Watch the heavens open, yeah Spirit, can you hear it callin'? Yeah
Your destiny is comin' close Stand up and fight So go into that far off land And be one with the great I am, I am A boy becomes a man
Woah, spirit Watch the heavens open, yeah Spirit, can you hear it callin'? Yeah Spirit, yeah, watch the heavens open, open, yeah Spirit, spirit, can you hear it callin'? Yeah
Your destiny is comin' close, stand up and fight So go into a far off land and be one with the great I am
Stream Beyoncé's "Spirit" here.
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- Seattle karaoke ‘home base’ Bush Garden plans spring 2024 reopening
For decades, Bush Garden often roared with young activists, politicians and community members who held meetings, strategized and caught up between rounds of karaoke on Tuesday nights. The aging walls of the Maynard Avenue bar and restaurant vibrated with patrons singing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and duetting Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “Islands in the Stream” with community leader Bob Santos, known as Uncle Bob. As lyrics popped up on a screen, Bush Garden regulars recall cha-cha-ing in the aisle and cheering on newcomers and veteran singers from their tables.
Until it shuttered at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Bush Garden was a community hub in Seattle’s Chinatown International District — where Japanese Americans resettling after World War II incarceration could taste familiar foods, and where people of all cultures could organize and celebrate. It was also where some of the country’s first karaoke songs were sung.
Next spring, the legendary karaoke bar is slated to reopen on the ground floor of Uncle Bob’s Place, an affordable housing development in the CID owned by neighborhood nonprofit InterIm CDA. The new building on Eighth Avenue is named after Santos, a Filipino American activist who fought against gentrification and displacement in the CID. Santos was also a fixture at Bush Garden karaoke nights until his death in 2016.
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Community members say they hope to rekindle the vibrant spirit of the former space just a few blocks away, which had long been a vital hub for celebrations and business gatherings where patrons could unwind over songs and Japanese-style cuisine. Bush Garden is one of the site’s commercial spaces owned by the Chan family, which founded Four Seas Restaurant and operates Tai Tung Chinese Restaurant .
“We’re trying to pick up where we left off,” said Karen Akada Sakata, the owner of Bush Garden. “It feels like a chance to refresh, renew and go deeper into being part of the community.”
“Bush was a home base for me to run into people,” Sakata added. “I could go in there by myself and be sure to always run into somebody I knew.”
The ground floor of the new place can hold approximately 140 guests and has a collapsible wall dividing it from the Bob Santos Community Room, a space that would be used for community events, meetings and socializing. During the day, the place will feature a full restaurant and bar, and will transform into a karaoke lounge at night.
The new place plans to incorporate Asian-style woodwork, shoji screens, overhead lighting and seats wrapped in warm, orange décor, according to design renderings from architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi .
Cultural worker Carina A. del Rosario, who was one of 12 artists to design balcony railings for Uncle Bob’s Place , made sure her contribution featured the building’s namesake and karaoke icon. del Rosario’s balcony depicts Santos singing in front of a crowd of friends at Bush Garden, which she described as an intergenerational space that represented chosen family and acceptance.
“Bush Garden and Uncle Bob himself was a place where multiple generations could be there as friends, as confidants, and as mutual support for each other,” del Rosario said.
del Rosario, who started going to Bush Garden in the late 1990s, said she’s excited to return to a place she describes as a “historic touchstone” in the community that thrived with a multiracial audience who fought to preserve housing, businesses and community services in the CID.
“It’s been missing for a while,” del Rosario said of Bush Garden’s role as a space for social justice organizing and connection. “That’s always going to be needed for the current generation and future generations.”
The birth of Seattle’s karaoke scene
In 1953, Kaichi Seko founded Bush Garden as a Japanese restaurant at the Bush Hotel on Jackson Street in the CID before moving to Maynard Avenue in 1957. The restaurant fit more than 400 patrons, had 40 private tatami rooms with sliding screens, and served sushi as well as traditional Japanese dishes such as ozoni, a rice cake soup, and nori-chazuke, a tea rice with seaweed.
As karaoke took off in Japan in the 1970s, particularly among businessmen, it soon spread to the U.S., according to Seattle-based historian and Bush Garden regular Bif Brigman, whose research focuses on Japanese American history. In the 1970s, the Seko family added karaoke to its roster of offerings with songs in Japanese and eventually in English, Spanish and other languages. Twenty years later, the family sold the business to Sakata, a former busser and later a karaoke host at the restaurant, and her husband Masaharu, who was a sushi chef.
“People had a relationship with [Bush Garden] from when they were really little,” Sakata said of the local Japanese American community. “We grew up there with family events. A lot of the kids from the community worked at Bush, including myself.”
Bush Garden not only paved the way for Seattle’s karaoke scene but was an integral part of resettlement after Japanese incarceration during World War II in the 1940s, Brigman said.
“Here are these families who were taken away, lost all their businesses and property and connections in Seattle when they were forced out of the area,” Brigman said. “People were trying to get reestablished … and so, Bush falls squarely in the middle of that effort of Japanese Americans restarting their lives after they had been imprisoned.”
As karaoke’s popularity grew, it moved beyond Seattle’s Asian American community and became part of the cultural fabric of the neighborhood, Brigman said.
“If Bush hadn’t started [karaoke in Seattle], it may not have come to town for decades,” Brigman said. “It was fostered for years by this business to get to a place where it’s known wide and far.”
Letting out those emotions over the mic brought relief and forged deep bonds over the music, according to Brigman and other Bush Garden regulars. Karaoke, Brigman said, “ties all sorts of people together.”
The bar’s most beloved patron
Santos, a CID activist who advocated for affordable housing and community services in the neighborhood, made Bush Garden his after-hours office. He was adored by karaoke regulars for his skills at the mic and sharing insights with local organizers.
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Luzviminda “Lulu” Uzuri Carpenter, a media justice advocate and Bush Garden regular since 2005, described the venue as a healing space where no one was judged and elders always looked out for the young people.
“Everybody would mix there. It was from the heart,” said Carpenter, who also works as a KVRU 105.7 FM station manager. “As long as you got on that stage with feeling, even if you couldn’t sing, people would cheer for you.”
Carpenter, who frequently sang “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner at the bar, joked that karaoke was like therapy. “I need to go and sing it out.”
Like many Bush Garden regulars, Carpenter also grew a deep friendship with Santos, whom she calls the “karaoke king,” through his mentorship and advocacy for her and other young activists at the time.
“We got to sit next to somebody that we’ve read about in books,” Carpenter said. “He was just like your uncle or grandpa just sitting there telling you stories.”
Santos long sought to protect the CID. In the 1970s, he served as the executive director of InterIm CDA, a nonprofit providing culturally competent housing and community-building services, and hosted an annual neighbo rhood pig roast . He was also part of the city’s renowned Gang of Four , a group of racially diverse organizers that included Larry Gossett, Roberto Maestas and Bernie Whitebear, who advocated for civil rights issues across the city.
Regular karaoke singer Soya Jung recalls singing duets with Santos including “When I Fall in Love,” by Céline Dion and Clive Griffin. Bush Garden was not only a refuge, she said, but a political and social home where she had deep political conversations with members of the Gang of Four.
“He was my buddy,” Jung said of Santos. “There’s our political identities and then there’s a whole personal existence underneath that doesn’t often get seen.”
“And what I cherish is that Uncle Bob saw me and allowed me to see him,” she added. “Not as the icon, but as a human being.”
The pandemic shuttering of Bush Garden hit hard for Jung and other regulars who described the karaoke bar and fellow singers as their home and family. With the bar’s reopening aimed for spring 2024, she’s excited that Bush Garden’s legacy gets to live on in a new building named after Santos.
“It was so heartbreaking for so many of us,” Jung said of the closure, but the plan to reopen at Uncle Bob’s Place is “like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s a great rebirth.”
Carpenter said she feels nervous about rebuilding the history and energy of Bush Garden in a new space. But she’s ultimately happy for Sakata, whom she calls Auntie Karen.
“I just want to stand next to Auntie Karen,” Carpenter said. “She was the heart of Bush Garden.”
The new Bush Garden’s interior is still under construction on the corner of South King Street and Eighth Avenue South. The business’s iconic sign, which features its name in black stylized letters alongside green bamboo leaves, hangs outside the new building. Sakata said she’s ready to carry on Bush Garden and all the memories and songs into a new era.
“We can’t go back in time, but we can create that energy in a new way,” Sakata said. “I trust that we’ll be able to re-create that in the new space and grow it.”
We want to know your favorite karaoke spot and song
We’ve dived into Seattle’s karaoke scene, but we still want to hear more from those who know it best. Let us know your favorite local spot to sing karaoke at and your go-to song in the form below or email them to [email protected] . Your response, lightly edited for grammar, clarity and length, may be included in a future Seattle Times story.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.
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