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GENIUS: ARETHA Premiere Events Will Feature a Special Performance by Cynthia Erivo

Other appearances will include Marquis Hillon, Antonique Smith, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Brian Grazer and Courtney B. Vance.

Nat Geo's GENIUS: ARETHA doesn't arrive until, March 21, but the network is planning to tease the show in a major way, according to Deadline. The new series, led by Tony winner Cynthia Erivo, will host premiere multi-city drive-in screening events on March 11, featuring a special performance by Erivo herself.

Additionally, playwright and creator of the show Suzan-Lori Parks will perform spoken word. Another appearances will include trumpeter Marquis Hillon, the Detroit Youth All-Star Choir, Antonique Smith, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Brian Grazer and Courtney B. Vance.

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 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 will be 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 ("The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story") as Aretha's father, C.L. Franklin; Malcolm Barrett ("Timeless," "Preacher") as Ted White, Franklin's first husband and business manager; David Cross ("Mr. Show," "Arrested Development") as legendary music producer Jerry Wexler, who guided Franklin as she developed into a confident singer and commercial success; Patrice Covington ("The Color Purple", "Ain't Misbehavin'") and Rebecca Naomi Jones ("Oklahoma!," "The Big Sick") portray Erma and Carolyn Franklin, respectively, as Aretha's sisters and frequent background singers, who supported and collaborated with their famous sibling; Steven Norfleet ("Watchmen," "Dynasty") as older brother Cecil Franklin, who stepped in as Aretha's manager following her divorce from Ted White; veteran actress Pauletta Washington ("Beloved," "She's Gotta Have It") as Aretha's nurturing and loving paternal grandmother, Rachel; Omar J. Dorsey ("Queen Sugar") as James Cleveland; Marque Richardson ("Dear White People") as King Curtis, Kimberly Hébert Gregory ("Vice Principals") as Ruth Bowen; and introducing Shaian Jordan as young Aretha Franklin, aka Little Re.


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