Watching Cynthia Erivo Transform Into Aretha Franklin Will Earn Your Respect

In an exclusive sneak peek of Nat Geo’s new series Genius: Aretha, Cynthia Erivo channels the late Aretha Franklin when she was crowned the “Queen of Soul.”

By Mike Vulpo Mar 15, 2021 7:00 PMTags
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Get ready to celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin in a whole new way. 

In less than a week, Nat Geo will kick off the third installment of Genius. The new season of the anthology series puts the spotlight on the Queen of Soul's incredible career.

As excitement continues to build for the premiere, E! News has received an exclusive sneak peek that shows Cynthia Erivo's transformation into the musician who will be remembered for her countless hits including "Respect," "A Natural Woman" and "Think." 

In the preview, Cynthia is seen on stage performing for a packed venue in Chicago. "I make sure I get paid before I sing. That's respect," she told the audience. "I hope you have all enjoyed yourselves tonight."

But before she exits the stage, Cynthia is surprised to learn she is being honored for her contributions to the music industry. As the announcers share, "The people of Chicago and the people of the world crown you the Queen of Soul."

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Instead of being thrilled, however, Cynthia quickly storms off to her dressing room without talking to reporters or her team. The scene also touches upon Aretha's childhood growing up in the choir and her first marriage to Ted White (played by Malcolm Barrett). 

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks is behind the new miniseries that spans three decades in the first seven episodes.

According to the network, "this season of Genius will explore Aretha Franklin's musical genius, her incomparable career, and the immeasurable impact she has had on music and culture." Cynthia will also be joined by a talented cast, which includes Courtney B. Vance, David Cross and Rebecca Naomi Jones.

Genius: Aretha premieres Sunday, March 21 at 9 p.m. only on Nat Geo. And make sure to catch Cynthia appear on E!'s Daily Pop Tuesday, March 16.