Even after portraying Aretha Franklin in a biopic series this year, Cynthia Erivo is still checking things off her career bucket list. Last week, the singer and Emmy-nominated actress made her Hollywood Bowl debut in the iconic Los Angeles venue during an evening of honoring "Legendary Voices."
"Last night was epic to say that it was a dream come true to perform at the @hollywoodbowl Bowl would be reducing the occasion," she wrote in an Instagram post. "None of this would have been possible without the people in this slide and many more people who I don’t have photos of here, put their hands on this project and made it possible for me to bring you a little piece of myself. This was a moment I will never forget. If you were there, thank you for lending me your energy, if you weren’t, thank you for wishing me well. ALL of my love Cynthia."
Erivo's set featured covers of hits from soul-singing legends like Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Nina Simone and Roberta Flack. She even performed a few selections like “You’re Not Here” from her upcoming debut album, “Ch.1 Vs.1.” Other highlight's from the night included Erivo singing a mashup of Faith Evans and 1983 Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," as well as renditions of songs like Flack's “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" and Franklin’s “Freeway of Love.”
Earlier this year, she dished on how she was able to land the role of Franklin in the National Geographic series. She told Entertainment Weekly that during an interview at the 2019 Tony Awards, a reporter asked her to name her guilty-pleasure song, to which she responded by singing a little bit of Franklin's song "Ain't No Way."
"Unbeknownst to me, that interview gets sent to [executive producers] Clive Davis and Brian Grazer, the rest is history," she says. "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." Prior to Franklin's passing, the young actress had a chance to meet the Queen of Soul following her performance of The Color Purple on Broadway. Fast forward a few years later, she took the audition for the series role and the rest was history.
In an exclusive interview with 21Ninety earlier this year, she also told us what it felt like to portray Franklin and what she did to prepare herself for the part.
"I don't know that you can mentally prepare for a story like that. I think you take it as it comes," she said. "I was listening to her music 24/7, and even though I listened before, now I was listening specifically for her voice, for the way she would sing these songs. And also the way she would communicate with her audience. You end up becoming friends in your head with this person to get to know them to tell the story, and I feel like that's what I did to prepare."