What’s Your Spark? Colorado Saxophonist Breathes Musical Life Into Pixar’s ‘Soul’

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10min 52sec
Tia Fuller played the saxophone parts for the character of Dorothea Williams in the Pixar film “Soul.”

Tia Fuller has landed some impressive gigs. She played with the late Aretha Franklin and toured with Beyoncé's band that played at the White House.

But her most recent gig is her biggest yet —- performing as the animated saxophone player Dorothea Williams in Pixar's latest film, "Soul."

Fuller, who grew up in Colorado, recorded her saxophone parts with "Soul" score co-composer Jon Batiste's band while Pixar filmed the musicians' movements. The exact notes Fuller played on her saxophone are mimicked by the fictional Dorothea Williams in the film.

"I saw how Pixar pays so fine attention to detail," Fuller told Colorado Matters. "It's not like some of the vague cartoons you just see fingers floating everywhere."

"Soul" centers around Joe Gardner, a music teacher who aspires to land a gig with the legendary jazz player Dorothea Williams. Fuller said Joe's journey to find a "spark" resonated with her. Just as Joe is trying to balance his dreams of a big jazz break with his job as a teacher in the movie, she teaches at Berklee's College of Music in addition to her performance career.

Fuller also spoke about finding her own spark early in her life, how she inspired Dorothea William's appearance and teaching during the pandemic.

To hear the full Colorado Matters interview with Tia Fuller click on the listen button above.