Kamasi Washington’s original soundtrack for the Michelle Obama documentary Becoming has been released.
The documentary, which premiered earlier this month on Netflix, shares a title with Obama’s 2018 memoir and follows the former First Lady of the United States on a book tour of 34 cities.
According to a statement from director Nadia Hallgren, Washington was an obvious choice for the Becoming soundtrack, as Obama specified in her book that she envisioned heaven as a place overflowing with jazz. “I knew immediately Kamasi was the artist that could interpret her experience musically,” the director said.
While composing the soundtrack, Washington never met Barack and Michelle Obama, though he did receive notes with their thoughts on his compositions. He also mined their music playlists for a sense of the sounds they love. “They like a certain kind of Motown-ish soul and R&B,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s hard to put into words, but there was a feel I could hear in the music they’re into.”
Washington recently appeared on bassist Thundercat’s new album It is What it is. In February, he released the Live at the Apollo Theater documentary, and last month, paid tribute to his grandmother with the composition “Henrietta Our Hero.” Washington’s most recent album Heaven and Earth arrived back in 2018 with an accompanying EP, The Choice.
Listen to the soundtrack of Becoming here: