There is an Aretha Franklin song to get you through it every season of life. If you’re deep in love, “ I Say A Little Prayer” might give you all the feels. If you’re feeling underappreciated, “Respect” may give you the courage to demand better treatment and visibility. Whichever song you listen to will instantaneously bring a sense of nostalgia and warmth, something that is arguably missing from today’s music. Nevertheless, there is not an artist alive who has not benefited from the creative and ingenious sound manufactured by Aretha herself.
National Geographic has taken on the great responsibility of telling the story behind sound. Aretha Franklin’s phenomenal legacy will be articulated from the lens of Pulitzer Prize-winning Executive Producer Suzan-Lori Parks. Airing as a 4-night special starting on Sunday, March 21st at 9/8c, the limited-series is the third installment of the network’s critically acclaimed anthology series “Genius” which has inspected the lives of historical figures Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso in previous seasons.
An activist and inspiration to all who fell under the sound of her voice, Franklin, dubbed the Queen of Soul, sung messages of resilience, spirituality, hope, love, and ultimately the human experience. With a profound and captivating power that was felt whether watching her live or via a record, she began her career on the gospel circuit, and the rest is history. Although Franklin has long been celebrated for her success, the series provides a deeper look into some of her challenges, quiet moments, and the persistence that allowed her to blossom from a singer into music royalty.
Boasting an exceptional cast, including Courtney B. Vance, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Malcolm Barrett, Pauletta Washington, Patrice Covington and Award winning actress, Cynthia Erivo, “Genius: Aretha” delivers a unique look at the Queen of Soul’s journey.
EBONY had the opportunity to chat candidly with some of the cast about the series and the importance of executing this film in the most authentic light. Check out this clip of Cynthia Erivo, who plays the legend herself, speaking about Franklin’s genius mentality and the ways in which Aretha’s legacy manifested excellence and exemplified strength throughout her career.
Genius: Aretha premieres on National Geographic on Sunday, March 21 at 9/8c, with two episodes each night for four consecutive nights. The premiere episodes will be available the next day on Hulu. All 8 episodes will be available to stream on Hulu by Thursday, March 25, Aretha Franklin’s birthday.
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Savannah M. Taylor is a native of Springfield, MA, and a graduate of Syracuse University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies with a minor in Communication & Rhetorical Studies. Some of her many passions include storytelling through various mediums and bringing awareness to Black history and culture through the advocacy of the Black diasporic community. These passions led her to start her own initiative called The Silhouette Brand, a platform to provide access to resources, opportunity, and exposure for people across the African diaspora.