Pixar’s Soul: A Celebration of Soul Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A celebration of the music from Pixar’s Soul, featuring interviews with the filmmakers and music team, as well as never-before-heard tracks.


Pixar’s Soul is an upcoming American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy comedy film directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It is Pixar’s twenty-fifth feature film, and Docter’s second film after Inside Out (2015) to be marketed and distributed by Disney. The film stars the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashād, Daveed Diggs, Angela Bassett, and Ahmir-Khalib Thompson. The film focuses on a musician named Joe Gardner (Foxx) who seeks to find the answer to the question “What is my purpose in life?”.

Pixar’s Soul had its world premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival on June 22, 2020. The film was originally set to be released in theaters on November 20, 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed until December 25, 2020.

The Sound of Soul

Pixar’s Soul is a 2021 American animated comedy-drama film directed by Pete Docter and written by Kemp Powers and Mike Jones. The film stars the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, and Phylicia Rashad. The film follows a middle-aged man named Joe Gardner (Foxx) who dies unexpectedly and is transported to the “Great Beyond”, where he meets 22 (Fey), a soul who has not yet lived a life. As Joe tries to find his way back to Earth, he discovers the hidden secrets of the universe and the importance of living life to the fullest.

The Funk Era

The Funk Era was a time when soul music took on a whole new sound. This was thanks in part to the rise of James Brown and his new style of music, which he termed “funk.” This new style of soul was heavier and more rhythmic, with an emphasis on the groove. It was also more danceable than previous styles of soul, and became extremely popular in the 1970s. Some of the most iconic funk songs include “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “Sex Machine” by James Brown, and “Flashlight” by Parliament.

The Motown Sound

The Motown sound is a style of popular R&B music created by Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan during the 1960s. The sound was developed by Motown’s in-house team of songwriters, producers, and engineers, known collectively as The Funk Brothers.

The Motown sound achieved national prominence in the early 1960s with hits like “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes and “My Guy” by Mary Wells. It reached its peak in the mid-1960s with classics like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.

The Motown sound was characterized by a strong bassline, funky drums, catchy melodies, and soulful vocals. It heavily influenced the development of disco and funk music in the 1970s.

The Gospel Sound

As the primary genre of African American religious music, gospel music has had a profound impact on American culture. With its soaring vocals and uplifting message, gospel has long been a favorite of both black and white listeners.

In recent years, gospel music has begun to cross over into the mainstream, thanks in part to popular films like The Blind Side and Selma. Pixar’s new film Soul is the latest example of this trend. The film tells the story of Joe Gardner, a middle-aged musician who gets the chance to play at the famous Blue Note jazz club. But when he suddenly dies, Joe finds himself trapped in the Great Before, a place where souls are prepared for life on Earth.

To help Joe on his journey, the filmmakers enlisted some of the biggest names in gospel music, including Take 6, Kirk Franklin, and Jon Batiste. Grammy-winning producer Questlove also served as an executive producer on the film.

With its focus on soul music, Soul is sure to introduce a new generation of listeners to the joys of gospel.

The Soul of Pixar

Pixar’s Soul is a beautiful and heartwarming film that celebrates the joy of life and the power of music. The soulful soundtrack is filled with classic soul and R&B hits, and the film’s cast is packed with talented vocalists. But Soul is more than just a musical. It’s a film about finding your passion in life, and it’s sure to inspire audiences of all ages.

The Characters

The movie Soul features an all-star cast of voice actors, including Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey, Questlove, and more. But the real stars of the show are the characters themselves. Meet Joe, 22, a middle-school music teacher with a love for jazz; 22, a cynical soul who has lost her passion for life; and Moonwind, a free-spirited musician who helps Joe find his way back to his love of music. Get to know the characters of Soul before you see the film!

The Music

Pixar’s Soul is a film that celebrates soul music and the African-American experience. The film’s central character, Joe Gardner, is a middle-aged musician who has been chasing his dream of becoming a professional jazz musician for most of his life. When he finally gets his big break, an accident threatens to take away everything that he loves. As he tries to figure out what life is all about, Joe discovers the power of soul music to connect people and change lives.

The film’s score is co-written and produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who are best known for their work on the soundtracks for The Social Network and Gone Girl. The music in Soul is a mix of traditional jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and electronic elements. Reznor and Ross worked with legendary soul artist Quincy Jones to create a unique sound for the film that would reflect the diverse experiences of African-Americans.

In addition to the original score, Soul features several classic soul songs performed by some of the biggest names in music. John Legend sings “Hard Times”, while Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” plays over the end credits. Janelle Monáe performs “It Ain’t Fair”, a song she co-wrote with Reznor and Ross. Jennifer Hudson also appears in the film, singing “Remember My Name”, a track from her new album Remember Me .

The music in Soul is one of the film’s strongest elements, and it helps to create an emotional connection between the characters and the audience. It is a celebration of African-American culture and an important reminder of the power of music to bring people together.


We had a blast watching Pixar’s Soul and celebrating the music of this genre. The film is a love letter to soul music and its ability to touch our lives. We highly recommend it for fans of all ages.

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