Milan Records today announces The Woman King (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) and shares an original vocal track Keep Rising ahead of the album's release on September 16. Available everywhere now, Keep Rising was written by singer-songwriter Jessy Wilson alongside Jeremy Lutito as the end credits theme to TriStar Pictures' upcoming action drama, which is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Recorded as a duet between Wilson and "Africa's premiere diva" Angélique Kidjo, who compliments Wilson's soulful vocals with her traditional African melodies, "Keep Rising" is a powerfully inspiring and uplifting song that captures the bravery and spirit of the onscreen warriors.
Of today's track, The Woman King director Gina Prince-Bythwood says, "An end title song is so important because you are curating the emotional end for your audience as they leave the theater. Jessy and Angélique have given us an incredible song that gets me incredibly hyped and inspired. Our film is a period piece, and 'Keep Rising' lyrically and sonically gives us an incredible bridge to the present. It is also a beautiful meld of cultures, most notably the culture of Benin where our incredible warriors are from. It is the perfect last flourish for The Woman King."
"Keep Rising" songwriter and vocalist Jessy Wilson adds, "This film, its director, the actors, and this story are paramount not only to African history, but to American and world history as a whole. I am beaming with pride to be a part of it," and featured vocalist Angélique Kidjo concludes, "I'm excited to be bringing the spirit and the energy of the Agojie warriors to this inspiring song."
Today's release is the first taste of music from the film, which features an original score by two-time Oscar nominee and six-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard. Heavily influenced by the rich musical tradition of the West African region, the album also includes vocal contributions from South African producer, composer and singer Lebo M, who infuses the collection with an authentic and original sound, and five-time Grammy Award-winner Dianne Reeves, who contributes her vocal stylings to the album. When recording the score, Blanchard also utilized a full orchestra and a choir of opera singers led by Ghanaian-American mezzo-soprano Tesia Kwarteng, a decision the composer says, "adds color, realness, and culture to this film." Making its debut this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Woman King will be released in theaters Friday, September 16 from Sony Pictures/TriStar Pictures. The film is co-financed by Entertainment One (eOne).
Of the score, composer Terence Blanchard says, "This is a film about vulnerability, power and strength. We witness determined and strong-willed women who are about the business of doing their jobs and protecting their kingdom. My music is there to show the other side of them: they are human. They have feelings; they hurt like anybody else, and they make unfathomable sacrifices to be part of the king's guard."
"Terence was tasked with creating a score without a template," adds director Gina Prince-Bythewood of working with Blanchard. "The world of The Woman King has never been seen before on film. He has created a magnificent unique musical journey for this film and these characters. The emotional moments are as epic as the battle set pieces. It was the most inspiring musical collaboration of my career."