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Recording artist and producer Raphael Saadiq has definitively shaped the landscape of music. The Oakland native will soon bring his talents to the small screen. According to Billboard, Saadiq—whose real name is Charles Ray Wiggins—has been tapped as the executive music producer for National Geographic’s upcoming series about the late legendary songstress Aretha Franklin.

The series—dubbed Genius: Aretha—will chronicle Franklin’s upbringing, rise to fame, and how she used her artistry to bring attention to social and political issues. UK-born actress Cynthia Erivo will characterize Franklin in the eight-part series. She will star alongside Pauletta Washington, Courtney B. Vance, and Malcolm Barrett.

Wiggins is excited to oversee the music for the project. “It’s an honor to share Aretha’s genius with the world alongside the incredibly talented Cynthia Erivo and Terence Blanchard,” he said in a statement. “We’ll hit the keys, play the parts and sing the lyrics that helped pave the way for musicians like myself to trust our artistry and challenge ourselves to be bold.” Composer and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard will create music for the series. Music moguls Clive Davis and Craig Kallman will serve as executive producers. Genius: Aretha is slated to premiere on May 25.

This isn’t the only project in the works that will portray Franklin’s story. Songstress Jennifer Hudson will star in a biopic film about the Queen of Soul dubbed Respect. “I just hope I make her proud and do her justice,” Hudson told People. Forest Whitaker, Heather Headley, Mary J. Blige and Marlon Wayans are among the cast members. The film will make its debut this October 2020.


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