National Geographic has announced Aretha Franklin will be the next subject for the third season of its Genius anthology series, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The Queen of Soul will be portrayed by singer, songwriter and actress Cynthia Erivo, who also plays the titular role in 2019’s Harriet. She also won a Tony and Grammy award for her work in The Color Purple revival on Broadway.
Genius: Aretha is billed as a definitive, authorized account of Franklin’s life. The series will feature several of Franklin’s hits, including “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” “Chain of Fools,” “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” and “Baby I Love You.” It will also include footage of Franklin performing “Freeway of Love,” “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)” and “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves.”
“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” Erivo, who will also perform songs from Franklin’s catalog during the series, said in a statement. “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 honor,” she continued. “What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”
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Genius: Aretha is set to air in spring 2020.