Cynthia Erivo to Be Crowned the Queen of Soul in Genius: Aretha

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The first ever and only authorized limited series on Aretha Franklin’s life has found its natural woman. E, G, and T winner Cynthia Erivo will play Detroit’s very own queen of soul in the upcoming National Geographic series, Genius: Aretha. Music mogul and one of Franklin’s longtime collaborators, Clive Davis, is an executive producer. Genius: Aretha will follow the music legend throughout her life and career, highlighting her musical genius and impact. No word on whether or not we’ll get a full-on reenactment of “Gowns, beautiful gowns.” “Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” said Erivo in a statement to Deadline. “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.”

Cynthia Erivo will soon hit the big screen as abolitionist Harriet Tubman, alongside Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe. The British actress became a breakout star in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, winning a Tony for her performance. Genius is a chance for Erivo to claim a Primetime Emmy (she currently has a Daytime Emmy for a Today Show performance of The Color Purple). Aretha Franklin died last year, leaving behind family, friends, and her incomparable voice. Genius: Aretha will feature many of her legendary songs, as sung by Erivo. “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,” Erivo said. “I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”

Cynthia Erivo Crowned the Queen of Soul in Genius: Aretha