Bubele Booi's time to shine: SA kid gets 'Lion King' break thanks to Beyoncé

04 August 2019 - 00:00 By TANYA STEENKAMP
A song Bubele Booi wrote has been chosen for 'The Lion King: The Gift'.
A song Bubele Booi wrote has been chosen for 'The Lion King: The Gift'.
Image: Supplied

A year ago he was just another young African songwriter dreaming of a future in which thousands of people would sing his songs at concerts across the world.

Today, Bubele Booi’s dream is a massive step closer to coming true after a song he wrote was chosen for The Lion King: The Gift, the latest album from Beyoncé.

Find Your Way Back is part of an album curated by Beyoncé as a companion to the soundtrack of the remake of the animated classic. It features artists such as Donald Glover and Pharrell Williams and spotlights up-and-coming African artists, producers and writers.

Booi’s song has its roots in Randburg, where he and friend Robert Magwenzi got together for a jam session. “We were chilling in my mom’s lounge and we were like, ‘Let’s make something that feels good’ … We wanted it to feel like a sunset on a rooftop when you’re just hanging out with your mates but a little bit nostalgic. We had no idea it would end up with Beyoncé.”

Booi said Beyoncé wanted to take the African narrative and use her platform to share it with the world.

“They could have said, ‘Hey let’s get a whole bunch of Americans to copy Afrobeat and put an album out,’ but that’s not what she did. She said, ‘I’m going to go to the people whose narrative it is to create that sound.’

“That’s something that’s incredible in her vision. I’m very honoured to be a part of that.”

Booi did a music degree at the University of Cape Town and began his master’s at New York University a year ago, saying that since then “God opened up crazy doors”.

“Almost a year ago a South African kid left home with a suitcase and a keyboard. A year later that same African kid was given an opportunity to produce a song for Beyoncé. That kid is me, and I’m humbled,” he tweeted.

He told the Sunday Times: “It’s so amazing to see so many people celebrating with me in this moment.”

His dream was “to stand backstage at an arena filled with thousands of people and have them singing my song at the top of their lungs and have almost none of them really know who I am. I want to get to do this at the highest level and in this beautiful way that comes with being a producer, not be in the spotlight.”

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