Aretha Franklin is the latest musical icon to get the silver screen treatment. On Wednesday, National Geographic announced an upcoming limited series Genius: Aretha. Raphael Saadiq will executive produce the show, while Terence Blanchard will provide the score. Cynthia Erivo will reportedly star as the late singer.
“It’s an honor to share Aretha’s genius with the world alongside the incredibly talented Cynthia Erivo and Terence Blanchard,” Saadiq told Billboard. “We’ll hit the keys, play the parts and sing the lyrics that helped pave the way for musicians like myself to trust our artistry and challenge ourselves to be bold.”
Blanchard is the Grammy Award-winning trumpeter who provided the score for dozens of Black film classics. Of note, Blanchard composed the music behind Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Bamboozled, and Love and Basketball. In addition to film soundtracks, Blanchard has earned five Grammy awards for his jazz discography. Erivo recently played Harriet Tubman in Harriet and Holly Gibney in HBO’s The Outsider.
“I’m so humbled to be part of a project that honors someone I’ve idolized and had the great privilege of working with,” Blanchard said. “Aretha was that one-of-a-kind talent that transcended all musical genres. She is the gold standard.”
Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, David Cross, and Pauletta Washington will also star in the miniseries. Previous seasons of the series spotlighted the lives of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso.
Genius: Aretha premieres May 25 at 9 p.m. EST on National Geographic.
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