"Amazing Grace," the sixth installment of the eight-episode Genius: Aretha Franklin series, airs Tuesday on National Geographic

By Jen Juneau and Sarah Michaud
March 23, 2021 11:00 AM
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Cynthia Erivo's pipes are holding nothing back as she transforms into the Queen of Soul.

PEOPLE has the first look at an upcoming episode of Genius: Aretha, titled "Amazing Grace." The episode is the sixth in the anthology series, and is set to air on National Geographic Tuesday simultaneously with the fifth episode, "Young, Gifted and Black."

According to a release, the episode takes viewers through the process of Aretha Franklin (Erivo, 34) recording her best-selling Amazing Grace live gospel album in the early 1970s, at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

In the first of two clips shared exclusively with PEOPLE, Aretha's father C.L. Franklin (Courtney B. Vance) proudly and enthusiastically introduces his daughter during a religious service, saying in part, "Aretha is not only just my daughter, but Aretha is just a stone saint."

Erivo then shows off her vocal talents as she channels Franklin at the piano in a second clip, soulfully performing a song to the audible and visible delight of her fellow churchgoers.

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Hear Cynthia Erivo's Heart-Stopping Performance as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha
Courtney B. Vance in Genius: Aretha
| Credit: National Geographic
Hear Cynthia Erivo's Heart-Stopping Performance as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha
Cynthia Erivo in Genius: Aretha
| Credit: National Geographic

Back in January, Erivo opened up on Jimmy Kimmel Live! about the honor she felt in portraying the vocal legend, who died in 2018 of pancreatic cancer at age 76.

Erivo noted at the time that the eight-part miniseries would focus on "everything from how [Franklin] created her music to the life she was living while she was making all of this music and who she was."

After Jimmy Kimmel told the Grammy-, Tony- and Emmy-winning star that Franklin led an interesting life, Erivo concurred with the late-night host. "She was pretty private about a lot of it," she said. "So you're sort of having to rely on — not just her music and what she said, but interviews and pictures, 'cause that's all the pieces that you get to put together."

"She's fascinating and brilliant and went through a lot and made a lot of great music," Erivo added.

Hear Cynthia Erivo's Heart-Stopping Performance as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha
Genius: Aretha
| Credit: National Geographic

RELATED VIDEO: See Cynthia Erivo and Courtney B. Vance in Genius: Aretha

Erivo recently told Entertainment Weekly that she landed the part of Franklin by singing a portion of "Ain't No Way" at the 2019 Tony Awards, when a reporter asked on the red carpet what her guilty-pleasure song was.

"Unbeknownst to me, that interview gets sent to [executive producers] Clive Davis and Brian Grazer, [and] the rest is history," said the Harriet Academy Award nominee. "I get a call from my agent, who says National Geographic is doing the next Genius and it's about Aretha Franklin and they would like you to consider playing the role, and there's a meeting coming up if you want to take it."

"Amazing Grace," the sixth installment of the eight-episode Genius: Aretha Franklin series, airs Tuesday on National Geographic.

The series premieres with a drop of episodes 1 and 2 on Sunday, following up with episodes 3 and 4 on Monday. It will wrap Wednesday with episodes 7 and 8.