National Geographic announced the premiere date for the multiple Emmy award-winning anthology series “Genius: Aretha,” and released a new trailer for the installment. The new season will premiere in the U.S. with double-stacked episodes across four consecutive nights, starting on March 21st 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 March 25th.

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The cast includes Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin; Emmy-winning Courtney B. Vance as Aretha’s father; Malcolm Barrett as Franklin’s first husband and business manager; David Cross as legendary music producer Jerry Wexler; Patrice Covington and Rebecca Naomi Jones as Aretha’s sisters and frequent background singers; Steven Norfleet as older brother Cecil Franklin; Pauletta Washington as Aretha’s grandmother; Omar J. Dorsey as James Cleveland; Marque Richardson as King Curtis; Kimberly Hébert Gregory as Ruth Bowen; and introducing Shaian Jordan as young Aretha Franklin.

If you’re new to the “GENIUS” brand, the anthology series dramatizes the stories of the world’s innovators and their extraordinary achievements.

The season’s description reads, “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.”

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.

In the announcement, the network added, “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, including the highest charting and bestselling song of her career, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet with George Michael. The legendary singer is one of the world’s bestselling musical artists of all time, with more than 75 million records sold globally during her career. Her voice was identified as a “natural resource” by her home state of Michigan.”

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Fans of the singer should also keep the movie “RESPECT” on their radar, starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, and Audra McDonald. The film’s release was delayed because of the ongoing health crisis, but could hit theaters in the summer. 

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