Exclusive: Celeste Talks Disney-Pixar’s ‘Soul’ & Powerful Anthem ‘It’s Alright’

Published: Thursday 24th Dec 2020 by Sam

On Christmas Day, Pixar unwraps ‘Soul’ – its hotly anticipated new animation film featuring Jamie Foxx. 

Streaming exclusively on Disney+, the movie sees the Oscar-winner star as Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher who has long dreamed of performing jazz music on the main stage.

After he finally gets the chance to realise his dream, an accident sees him separated from his soul. From there, a heart-filled tale plays out; one which will no doubt resonate with all.

Beyond being anchored by an all-star cast – which also includes Angela Bassett, Phylicia Rashad, and Tina Fey, the UK version of ‘Soul’ features an end-credit rendition of ‘It’s Alright’ by BRIT Award winning singer Celeste.

That Grape Juice‘s Lettija Lee caught up the rising star to discuss the song (which a collaboration with Jon Batiste), the movie, and more.

Join us below…

That Grape Juice (Lettija Lee): We’re so excited about Disney-Pixar movie ‘Soul’ and that was elevated to new levels when we heard that you perform a song in the film. Tell us a little about how you became involved with the soundtrack?

Celeste: It was in the summer of this year during lockdown, actually. The film reached out and just asked if I’d like to sing a duet with Jon Batiste. And they said it was a Curtis Mayfield song. So as soon as I heard that, I was just like, “yeah, I’ll definitely do that.” And then I found out, the song was, ‘It’s Alright.’ And I was just so pleased because it was a song that I hadn’t really had covered for a long time. And I’m a great fan of Curtis Mayfield. I’ve listened to him from the age of 14, and continued to listen to him. I loved his voice. So even now when I’m talking about it, I am like, “well, that’s actually really cool.” I’m really pleased and honored to be a part of this whole thing.

That Grape Juice: Given the theme of the film, have you ever experienced needing to find yourself at any point? And if so, how did you overcome that?

Celeste: Yeah, definitely. I think that there are always stages where you get to a moment where you’re like, “ah, I need to remember who I am right now.” And I guess for me, I feel like I’ve got to a stage where I feel confident in what I’m doing. And I pretty much feel like I know myself, but I definitely get to junctures where I’m just like, “hmm, okay, I need to just remember what the core of myself is, in this situation.” Especially when there’s so much influence from outside. But I really enjoyed this film, in just seeing people uncovering that. But then there are so many hidden messages and metaphors too. The more you watch it, the more you uncover in yourself and in the film. I’m really pleased to be part of something like this.

That Grape Juice: Do you have any favorite scenes from the movie?

Celeste: Yeah! One that features Graham Norton (who plays Moonwind). I just love the scene where they’re on the ship and they go into this unknown territory that’s somewhat of a metaphor for so many mindsets. I just could literally picture myself in that place, and I picture people I know in the different places. I don’t want to give too much away, but it really resonated with me.

That Grape Juice: You recently won the BRIT Award for Rising Star, and BBC Music Sound of 2020. What do these awards mean to you?

Celeste: So much. When receiving these accolades, it definitely gives you incentive and inspirations and reassurance that you’re on track and doing the right thing. It gives you the sense that you’re in the right place and at the right time. But then there definitely comes a level of expectation. So this year, I’ve just been working away at making sure I don’t disappoint really. And I’ve just been working on my album (‘Not Your Muse’), and I hope that people like it. And I’m just doing things like this (song and soundtrack).

That Grape Juice: What does ‘Soul’ mean to you?

Celeste: I genuinely feel passionate about ‘Soul’ and what it has to say. I feel like something like this is quite monumental, because it’s the first Black Disney-Pixar film. And it’s the first time you’re seeing Black people in animation on this scale, not just one character here and there. It’s a whole cast, and everyone that’s doing all of the voiceovers, like all of the actors involved. They’re names that you look up to. So I’m so excited to hear these people speak about their role and speak about, how they got ready for this. It’s definitely really inspiring and it feels good timing for something like this to happen, with the year that we’ve had, where there’s been this like reawakening in Black Lives Matter. I hope and I think that the rest of the world that (that isn’t a Black) will not feel bemused or stumped by this idea. They’ll just embrace it. And I think that’s why this movie has such good timing, because the conversation is a bit more open at this moment in time. That’s what is needed definitely. And I think a film like this can like provoke that conversation further and open that dialogue further. And this film does that in many different ways. It’s definitely not one dimensional.

Stream the ‘Soul’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:

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