Cynthia Erivo’s Aretha Franklin Will Blow You Away in First Trailer for ‘Genius: Aretha’


After successful seasons about Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, National Geographic’s Genius series is returning with a season about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Broadway star and Academy Award nominee Cynthia Erivo plays the legendary singer whose music and politics inspired a generation.

National Geographic/Richard DuCree

`The rest of the cast includes David Cross as music journalist and producer Jerry Wexler; Courtney B. Vance as Aretha’s father, the minister C.L. Franklin; and T.I. as Aretha’s husband, Ken Cunningham.

Acclaimed playwright Suzan Lori-Parks served as showrunner for the series. A notice from when the series was announced says that the project “will feature many of the Queen of Soul’s biggest hits from the Warner Music catalog, with the rights of 80% of her music currently cleared.” Fingers crossed that “Respect” and “Think” and “A Natural Woman” make it in because we’d love to hear Erivo’s take on those classics!

National Geographic/Richard DuCree

The story will be presented in four parts, starting on Sunday, March 21. The trailer seems to focus mostly on Franklin’s relationship with her father as she rises through the ranks of the music industry and evolves into an icon using her spotlight for change.

National Geographic/Richard DuCree

“I’m writing a new song. It’s gonna hit you hard. It’ll get under your skin. Right down to the bone,” says Erivo as Franklin, possibly referring to her ode to toxic relationships, “Chain of Fools.”

“It’s gonna be a whole new vibe that brings people together,” she predicts. And as we know, it did. (See some of Aretha Franklin’s best real-life quotes here.)

But with great power comes…men feeling threatened. “It’s easier for a woman to be the helpmate of a king than it is for a man to be the helpmate of a queen,” she is warned. Unfair but probably true.

Watch the trailer here, and try not to freak out over Erivo’s flawless vocals:


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