12 Years a Slave (soundtrack)

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Music from and Inspired by 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave Soundtrack.png
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05) (digital)[1]
November 11, 2013 (2013-11-11) (physical)
Recorded 2013
Length 42:24
Label Columbia 88843 00857 2
Hans Zimmer chronology
Mr. Morgan's Last Love
Music from and Inspired by 12 Years a Slave
Winter's Tale

Music from and Inspired by 12 Years a Slave is the soundtrack album to 12 Years a Slave. It contains two tracks from the film score composed by Hans Zimmer, three tracks co-arranged by violinist Tim Fain and Nicholas Britell,[5] and original spiritual songs written and arranged for the film by Nicholas Britell,[6] as well as performances by Alabama Shakes, Cody ChesnuTT, Gary Clark, Jr., Alicia Keys, Tim Fain,[7] Laura Mvula, Chris Cornell, Joy Williams, John Legend, and spiritual song performances from the film.

The album was released digitally on November 5 and in physical formats on November 11, 2013 by Columbia Records in the United States.[8]


Having been interested in each other's work for some time, director Steve McQueen approached composer Hans Zimmer to write the score to 12 Years a Slave after filming had completed. Zimmer was, however, reluctant to accept the offer feeling he wasn't right for the job. Zimmer explained, "I felt I wasn't the guy, in a way. It was such an important, heavy, incredible subject. [...] It took a bit of persuading from [McQueen] to give me the confidence to do it".[9] On April 30, 2013, it was officially announced that Zimmer was scoring the film.[10]

Track listing[edit]

1."Devil's Dream"Tim Fain0:29
2."Roll, Jordan, Roll"John Legend2:47
3."Freight Train"Gary Clark, Jr.2:35
4."Yarney's Waltz"Tim Fain and Caitlin Sullivan1:16
5."Driva Man"Alabama Shakes4:31
6."My Lord Sunshine (Sunrise)"David Hughey and Roosevelt Credit1:13
7."Move" (featuring Fink)John Legend3:50
8."Washington"Hans Zimmer0:25
9."(In the Evening) When the Sun Goes Down"Gary Clark, Jr.4:37
10."Queen of the Field (Patsey's Song)"Alicia Keys5:37
11."Solomon"Hans Zimmer3:31
12."Little Girl Blue"Laura Mvula4:30
13."Misery Chain" (featuring Joy Williams)Chris Cornell5:08
14."Roll Jordan Roll" (featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor)Topsy Chapman1:57
15."Money Musk"Tim Fain0:37
16."What Does Freedom Mean (To a Free Man)"Cody ChesnuTT2:41

Film music not included on the album[edit]


12 Years a Slave is a stunningly powerful film. I was so moved when I saw it. I felt every minute of it and was so inspired to contribute to the music of the soundtrack. This album brings together some incredible artists from different places and different genres who have all been touched by the film. When artists are inspired by great art, it makes us want to create. This album is the result of that inspiration.

—John Legend

We chose a song called "Driva Man". It is a sparse, brooding, slow-swinging jazz number. There is no lightness in the music of "Driva' Man" because there is no mention of freedom in this song. The focus of the track is about an enslaved person reaching "quittin' time" while also trying to please the overseer to avoid getting beaten. After we watched 12 Years a Slave in our hometown of Athens, Alabama, we stumbled across this song a week later. It is a very simple song which is why we chose it to contribute to the soundtrack. The two works, for a moment, take the audience into another time and place where you can imagine being denied your freedom: after which, one's own freedom can be better appreciated. 12 Years is one of the most important films we have ever seen and it is important to us to give back some of what the movie has given to us.

—Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes

I was moved by this film and the story in a way that transcends any film experience I have ever had. I was inspired to write a hundred different songs, but finally landed on one based on what I believe is an extremely important message I took from this man's journey. Compassion, basic human rights and love must be our priorities above race, religion or commerce. Every generation needs a reminder of that simple idea.

—Chris Cornell


  1. ^ "'12 Years a Slave' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  2. ^ "BRAAAM? Hans Zimmer Scoring Steve McQueen's 'Twelve Years A Slave' | The Playlist". Blogs.indiewire.com. 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  3. ^ "John Legend, Alicia Keys And More Featured On '12 Years A Slave' Soundtrack". Vibe. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  4. ^ "John Legend, Chris Cornell & Alicia Keys Featured on '12 Years A Slave' Soundtrack « Radio.com News". News.radio.com. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  5. ^ "Famed violinist to visit UND". Dakota Student. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  6. ^ Powers, Ann (November 13, 2013). "'12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music". NPR Music. National Public Radio. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  7. ^ Listen to 12 Years a Slave Soundtrack says:. "12 Years a Slave Soundtrack List". Soundtrackmania.com. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  8. ^ Schillaci, Sophie (October 18, 2013). "Columbia to Release '12 Years a Slave's' John Legend-Curated Soundtrack". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ Weintraub, Steve (October 20, 2013). "Hans Zimmer Talks 12 YEARS A SLAVE, the Importance of the Film, Akiva Goldsman's WINTER'S TALE, Reflections on Ridley Scott's HANNIBAL, and More". Collider.com. Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Hans Zimmer Scoring Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave'". Film Music Reporter. April 30, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.