National Geographic, with Imagine Television Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios, has announced that Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Broadway’s The Colour Purple) will star as Aretha Franklin in the next installment of the Emmy-winning global anthology series Genius: Aretha.
This upcoming season will be the first-ever, definitive and only authorised scripted limited series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul. Filming will start this November for a 2020 premiere on National Geographic channels in 172 countries and 43 languages.
The production will feature many of Franklin’s biggest recordings and hit songs from the comprehensive Warner Music catalogue, including I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), Chain of Fools, Don’t Play That Song, Since You’ve Been Gone and Baby I Love You.
In addition, the series will feature Franklin’s performances of I Knew You Were Waiting for Me, Freeway of Love and Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves. Erivo will also be performing many of the songs from Franklin’s rich catalogue.
“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” said Erivo.
“Her strength, passion and soul are evident in her everlasting legacy, not only as a transcendent artist, but as a humanitarian and civil rights icon. To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honour. What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power in it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”
“Cynthia Erivo blew me away. Not only is she an incredible and bona fide star, but she is soulful and has tremendous depth as a musical artist,” said Brian Grazer. “Cynthia is the perfect person to portray the profoundly human story behind the genius that is Aretha.”
Ms. Franklin’s niece Sabrina Owens said, “For Genius to honour Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice!”