National Geographic to Premiere New Show Based on Aretha Franklin's Life, Faith, Gospel Roots

John Paluska | Contributor | Thursday, February 11, 2021
Aretha Franklin, Nat Geo to premiere new show about Franklin's life

National Geographic to Premiere New Show Based on Aretha Franklin's Life, Faith, Gospel Roots

National Geographic is going to premiere a new TV Anthology season based on R&B and Soul pop star Aretha Franklin, titled Genius: Aretha.

The series will begin on March 21 and will premiere back-to-back for four straight nights. According to a summary of the show obtained by The Christian Post, the show will cover Franklin's musical career, including her early start at the age of 12, where she couldn't even read music but nonetheless taught herself how to play the piano.

The summary states: "Without knowing how to read music, Franklin taught herself to play the piano; at the young age of 12, she began to record songs and sing on gospel tours with her father. She signed her first record deal at age 18 with Columbia Records. In 1966, she moved to Atlantic Records, where she recorded many of her most iconic songs. In 1979, she began a 40-year friendship and partnership with Clive Davis, which produced a number of hit songs."

Franklin will be played by Cynthia Erivo, who has been known for her acting and singing skills. Erivo is an award-winning actress. In 2017 she won a Tony Award and a Grammy for her work in The Color Purple. Most recently, Erivo starred as Harriet Tubman in the film Harriet. She was nominated for a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Academy Award among others for her performance in the film.

Courtney B. Vance (“Joyful Noise”) will also be in the film as Franklin's father.

According to The Christian Post, the rest of the cast includes: "Malcolm Barrett (“Preacher”) as Ted White, Franklin’s first husband and business manager; David Cross (“Arrested Development”) as legendary music producer Jerry Wexler, Patrice Covington (“The Color Purple”) and Rebecca Naomi Jones (“Oklahoma!”).”

Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Clarence LaVaughn "C. L." Franklin, Pastor of Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church. And she used to sing in her church at the age of 10 and was considered a child prodigy. She recorded her first album at 14 years old. It was a gospel album titled Songs of Faith. At the time she was managed by her father and was signed to J.V.B. Records. Erivo will be performing many of Aretha's songs in the series.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Michael Ochs/Archive/Stringer

John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.