Genius: Aretha is celebrating the Queen of Soul’s birthday. Aretha Franklin would’ve been 78 years old on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and the upcoming National Geographic Channel series about her made a donation to celebrate the icon’s birthday.
“During her lifetime, Aretha Franklin supported a large number of charities and advocacy organization, including Feeding America. To mark what would have been her 78th birthday, and in recognition of the difficult times we are currently in, National Geographic Channel is making a donation to Feeding America in Aretha’s name,” the channel said in a statement.
In addition to the donation, National Geographic also released a new photo from Genius: Aretha featuring Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner Cynthia Erivo as Franklin. Erivo was recently nominate for two Oscars for playing Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet. She also received an Oscar nomination for cowriting “Stand Up,” a song for the movie.
“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” Erivo said in a statement when her casting was announced. “Her strength, passion and soul are evident in her everlasting legacy, not only as a transcendent artist, but as a humanitarian and civil rights icon. To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honor. What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power in it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”
Suzan-Lori Parks is executive producer and writer on the series that also counts Ron Howard and Brian Grazer as executive producers. The estate of Aretha Franklin is also behind the series. Genius: Aretha will feature some of the singer’s biggest songs, performed by Erivo and Franklin.
Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, said, “For Genius to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice!”
Genius: Aretha is currently set to premiere May 25 on National Geographic Channel.