Highland Park grad selected to play on ‘Lion King’ soundtrack

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A local high school graduate is making a big roar with his music, and his skills have him working with stars like Beyoncé.

When you hear the beginning of the “Circle of Life”, you know exactly what it is, even if most of us don’t really know the lyrics all that well.

What’s often overlooked is the extensive orchestra giving that music its distinctive sound, making them such iconic songs. One of those musicians is a Topeka native, Richard Edwards.

“When I first read the email I was kind of skeptical,” Richard said. “I was like is this real?”

That was Richard’s reaction when he was asked to help with the “Lion King”.

A Highland Park High School graduate, he learned how to play the double bass before graduating in 1997.

“I pretty much knew, within the week,” Richard’s former orchestra teacher, Carolyn Young said. “The first week of his freshman year that this was a very gifted child. And I mean gifted in many ways.”

Richard’s skills and dedication to the bass got him to Chicago where he has lived for more than 10 years.

He plays professionally in orchestras like the Chicago Philharmonic, sometimes playing with the Chicago Symphony, before being asked to join Hans Zimmer for the 2019 “Lion King” soundtrack. He is featured on songs like the “Stampede.”

Richard was one of six base players selected to play with Hans Zimmer.

“One of the greatest experiences I’ve had,” Richard said. “I just can’t…I can’t describe how much fun I had.”

Richards is showing people that Highland Park High School students can do anything they put their minds to.

“You can do it,” Richard said. “I mean, it’s hard. It’s going to take a lot of work. You have to really love it. Because you’re going to get a lot no’s. You’ll get a few yeses, and those yeses are great.”

“Richard was extraordinary,” Carolyn said. “But there are a lot of extraordinary kids who come out of Highland Park.”

“There is nothing a Highland Park kid can’t do,” Carolyn said.

So next time you listen to the new “Lion King” soundtrack, remember the 1997 Highland Park Scot was a part of that iconic music.

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