The Unique Way Cynthia Erivo Captured the ‘Queen of Soul’ in Aretha Franklin Biopic Series

Actress Cynthia Erivo is taking on another iconic role on the heels of her Oscar-nominated performance as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.”

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Terrell Mullin/emmy magazine

Erivo is starring as the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin in the Nat Geo limited series “Genius: Aretha.”

She opened up to emmy magazine about the part, revealing the unique way she tried to capture Aretha’s honesty as a performer.

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Terrell Mullin/emmy magazine

Cynthia decided to sing live into a hot mic during the shoot, rather than pre-record the songs and lip synch. Some of the hits she performs include “I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You," "Baby, I Love You," and the gospel favorite “Amazing Grace.”

“I personally think that when a person sings, it’s like a little window into their soul, how they truly feel,” she explained. “It’s the ultimate state of vulnerability. The best singers, and not necessarily the best technically, are the most honest ones. Aretha was brilliant because she was an honest performer. So to sing a song live on set allowed me to [do more than] just sing it, but also access where it came from. To me, it’s not just a song. It’s ‘This is how I am feeling right now.’”

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Terrell Mullin/emmy magazine

How did she capture the Detroit legend’s voice? In a behind-the-scenes video from emmy mag, she shared, “I’m lucky because it feels like a lot of her songs are written in the right key for me… so I’m not having to push too hard, I’m not having to pull back that much. There are certain qualities that she has in her voice, there are certain words that she pronounces slightly differently. It is going to sound like me when you hear it but I’m going to try to pull it away from what you hear normally… try and move toward sounding like her.”

“Genius: Aretha” does not have a release date yet, but you can read more about Cynthia’s performance and how she landed the role in the new issue of emmy magazine, on newsstands October 20.

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