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Great Musical Spirits
Rock legend Phil Collins found a great new outlet for his musical talents when he joined forces with Disney's Feature Animation team for the 1999 animated feature, "Tarzan.” His percussive rhythms and distinctive vocals gave that film a musical identity all its own and greatly added to the overall entertainment. On the day that "Tarzan” debuted in England, Collins was first approached about working on "Brother Bear.” He went on to write six original songs for the film and shared a composer credit for the score with three-time Grammy Award-winner Mark Mancina ("Tarzan,” "The Lion King,” etc.). 

Collins recalls, "They told me the story of ‘Brother Bear' and gave me a book filled with paintings that had inspired the look of the film. It had lots of great scenery of the American northwest with wide-open skies. I began looking through the book and writing phrases and impressions that came to me. Things like ‘when the mountains kissed the sky' and ‘when nature and man live side by side.' The lyrics to ‘Great Spirits' came to me that way.” 

"Great Spirits” is the first song heard in the film and it gets a spirited performance by the legendary Tina Turner. The song establishes the theme of brotherhood that runs throughout the film with such lyrics as "Show us that in your eyes, we are all the same. Brothers to all creatures. In this world, we remain truly brothers all the same.” 

Turner, now retired from touring and living in Switzerland, notes, "The song is great and the music is wonderful. It has a great feeling. When I first read the lyrics, I thought, ‘Oh, it's a prayer.' And then as I listened more and more, I started to feel, ‘This is a good song that I could sing. This is a song I want to sing.' I feel it. It has an undercurrent gospel feeling to it. It started to grow and grow and I had great pleasure learning it. There is a real spiritual quality to it and the message is about love and care and coming together. 

"Phil and I go way back,” adds Turner. "He played on my Break Every Rule album and we worked together on ‘The Prince's Trust Concert' in London some time ago. It's always fun working with him.” 

The film's Chuck Williams notes, "Tina's performance gives the song a real earthy and organic feel. She represents the viewpoint of the Shaman character Tanana, and sings for the Great Spirits about the world and all the change around them. It's about the connection we have with nature and animals. Tina gives the song a powerful voice of strength and wisdom.” 

By far, the most unusual song in the film is "Transformation,” which accompanies Kenai's change from human to bear form. Collins' lyrics were translated into the Inuit language and sung by the Bulgarian Women's Choir. Mancina arranged the song with Collins and Eddie Jobson handled the vocal arrangements. 

According to Mancina, "Phil wrote the song and played the demo for us. When I heard it, I was so moved by it and felt like that piece of music provided the perfect opportunity to work with the Bulgarian Women's Choir. The idea of them singing in a language that is completely foreign to them gave the song a texture and sound that was unique. The sound is cross cultural.” 

Collins admits, "I've never really written a song like this before. Using a computer to compose music, I was able to move things around and try things that I never would have tried otherwise. You take different notes and move them to see what it would sound like. You never really know what you've got until you do it. I wrote the words to this song and assumed I was going to sing it. Then the idea came to use the Bulgarian Women's Choir. It just developed and now when I hear the song with the choir and the orchestra, I have no idea how I wrote it. It's unlike anything I've ever done before and it doesn't sound like anything that's been in a Disney film before. It's kind of a me


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