Beyonce is a contender for the best original song Oscar this year with “Be Alive,” her end-credits number that provides a musical epilogue at the close of “King Richard.” Alongside her, producer/songwriter Dixson helped craft the soaring ballad, which is on the Oscars’ shortlist of 15 eligible songs.
Dixson says he had only seen clips of the film at the time of writing the lyrics. “I had to believe blindly that what she would say and what I would say would work,” says the songwriter.
He credits his personal experience in helping him write the lyrics, as well as his familiarity with the story of the Williams sisters and their father, Richard. The film stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, father and coach of future tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. “My father was very similar to Richard Williams — he had a strategy for his kids,” Dixson says. “I didn’t need to see the film to know the story; I lived it myself.”
Dixson, whose real name is Darius Scott, has collaborated with artists such as Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, and is under the Roc Nation label. He says the song’s third verse, which he wrote, was inspired by the strong women in his life: “And can’t nobody knock it if they tried / This is hustle personified / Look how we’ve been fighting to stay alive / So when we win, we will have pride / Do you know how much we have cried? How hard we had to fight?” He says, “My mother was a strong woman, a strong influence in my life. Every major accomplishment that I’ve had in my career so far has come on the heels of knowing and being attached to a very powerful, strong woman.”
In hearing Beyonce sing it for the first time and hearing it at the film’s AFI Film Fest premiere, Dixson was seated next to his manager. “I did everything in my power to not let my manager see my cry. It’s the delivery — her delivery is so incredible.”
He notes that the two didn’t have much time to turn the song around. They managed to make it a fast delivery. “I remember thinking I was done with it, but then I got a call saying there needed to be some edits, and they needed to be quick, within the next 24-48 hours. It was fast and I didn’t have time to overthink it,” explains Dixson.
This collaboration is one he calls an honor. “I never expected so early in my career as a producer to have this type of achievement.” Of having a dream collaborator for the song, he adds, “I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing this record.”
Listen to the song below: