National Geographic Channel has found its Queen of Soul.
Tony-winner Cynthia Erivo has been cast as Aretha Franklin in the channel’s next installment of its Emmy-winning “Genius” anthology series.
“Genius: Aretha” will feature many of Franklin’s biggest recordings, 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.”
Erivo said in a statement “Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl.”
“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,” Erivo said. “To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honor. 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.”
Franklin died of a rare form of cancer in August 2018.
Erivo won a Tony for her lead role in Broadway’s “The Color Purple” musical and plays Harriet Tubman in the upcoming “Harriet” movie.
The TV project and Erivo received the endorsement of Franklin’s estate.
“For Genius to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice,” Franklin’s niece Sabrina Owens said.
“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.”
“Genius: Aretha” is set to air in spring 2020.