Washington, D.C. (February 10, 2021)
GENIUS: ARETHA — 8 Episode Series on the Life of the Queen of Soul & Gospel Music, Aretha Franklin
National Geographic and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, The Color Purple) have announced the highly anticipated premiere date and official series trailer for the multiple Emmy award-winning anthology series GENIUS: ARETHA. From 20th Television and Imagine Television, this new season will premiere in the U.S. on the channel with double-stacked episodes across four consecutive nights, beginning on Sunday, March 21, at 9/8c. The premiere episodes will be available the next day on Hulu, culminating in a celebration of Aretha Franklin’s birthday, with all eight episodes available to stream by Thursday, March 25.
Additionally, National Geographic’s ongoing podcast series The Making Of released the first of three GENIUS: ARETHA themed episodes, which features in-depth interviews with individuals who are both in front of the camera and also those behind the scenes. The latest episode features GENIUS: ARETHA’s cinematographer Kevin McKnight, costume designer Jennifer Bryan and choreographer Dondraico Johnson. They discuss the process of recreating and honoring key and iconic moments in Aretha Franklin’s life.
GENIUS is National Geographic’s critically acclaimed anthology series that dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators and their extraordinary achievements with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. This third season will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Franklin was a Gospel music prodigy, an outspoken civil rights champion and widely considered the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career. GENIUS: ARETHA is the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul.
The previously announced cast includes triple threat Tony-, Emmy- and GRAMMY Award-winning Erivo as Aretha Franklin who will be performing many songs from Franklin’s rich catalogue; the Emmy-winning Courtney B. Vance as Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin; Malcolm Barrett as Ted White, Franklin’s first husband and business manager; David Cross as legendary music producer Jerry Wexler, who guided Franklin as she developed into a confident singer and commercial success.
Watch the Trailer:
Sunday, March 21, at 9/8c
Desperate for a hit, Aretha travels to Muscle Shoals in 1967 to record her first album with Atlantic Records. After suffering the loss of her surrogate mother, Little Re braves her first solo in 1953, in her father’s, C.L. Franklin, church.
UNTIL THE REAL THING COMES ALONG
Sunday, March 21, at 10/9c
Struggling to find her sound, Aretha catches the attention of Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records in 1966. Meanwhile, Little Re has her first touring experience on the Gospel Circuit in 1954 with C.L. Franklin and meets her idol, Clara Ward.
DO RIGHT WOMAN
Monday, March 22, at 9/8c
Aretha juggles her music career and her commitment to the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr., in 1967 and 1968. Meanwhile, Little Re leaves behind her newborn child to return to the Gospel Circuit in 1955, meeting with music legends James Cleveland and Little Sammie Bryant.
Monday, March 22, at 10/9c
Aretha is featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1968, but she’s devastated when the article focuses on the scandalous details of her personal life. Barbara Franklin and Young C.L. Franklin struggle to establish themselves in Memphis in 1941, before Little Re is born.
YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK
Tuesday, March 23, at 9/8c
Aretha, inspired by Angela Davis and the Soledad Brothers, records her protest album “Young, Gifted and Black” in 1970. Despite Jerry Wexler’s uncertainty, the album is a success. Barbara Franklin makes a decision that has a devastating effect on Little Re in 1951.
Tuesday, March 23, at 10/9c
Aretha records her best-selling live Gospel album “Amazing Grace” in 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, ignoring her sibling’s pleas to record instead at New Bethel with their father, C.L. Franklin. Little Re discovers that she’s pregnant with her second child, forcing her to leave school. While pregnant, she records her first album at New Bethel in 1956.
CHAIN OF FOOLS
Wednesday, March 24, at 9/8c
As the Queen of Soul enters the age of disco, Aretha will do anything to remain relevant—including stealing an opportunity from her sister Carolyn. She receives a GRAMMY nomination but is ultimately snubbed from winning the award. While at the ceremony, she meets with Arista founder Clive Davis. Meanwhile, Jerry Wexler leaves Atlantic Records, and he and Aretha part ways.
NO ONE SLEEPS
Wednesday, March 24, at 10/9c
Despite significant emotional losses, including a second divorce and the death of her father in 1984, Aretha pushes herself artistically and triumphs. She begins a successful career at Arista, with the help of Clive Davis, and in an unforgettable GRAMMY performance in 1998, she solidifies her eternal reign as the Queen of Soul.