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The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect is headed for the big screen with Jennifer Hudson playing the adult Queen of Soul.

However, anyone who knows Aretha Franklin knows that the the songstress started singing for the heavens at a very early age. Now, the producers for Respect are searching for someone who can fill her young church shoes back when she was belting gospel under her father’s church.

The casting description reads:

“African American girl to play ages 10-14. Charismatic child prodigy. At times painfully shy, at other times joyful, especially when playing the piano and singing. MUST SING WELL, IDEALLY WITH A SOARING GOSPEL SOPRANO. PLAYING PIANO IS A PLUS. LEAD.” 

Just for a little context, below is a clip of Aretha singing “Precious Lord” from her first live album Songs of Faith in 1956, according to She was only 14 years old at the time of the recording.


So yea…the movie has some big church shoes to fill.

The power and tone of Aretha’s voice is so distinct, it begs the question can they find a child of God worthy enough to take on Aretha. Granted, there have been some potentials in the past.

Let’s not forget Jazmine Sullivan giving us iconic vocals at age 11 when she blew the house down as Dorthy in The Wiz. 


More recent singers like Destiny Chukunyere have also proven that they have the chops for big songs. Chukunyere even paid tribute to Aretha when she was 14 on Britain’s Got Talent singing “Think.”


The world is ripe with potential.

Folks who are thinking about auditioning for Respect better get a move-on, however. Rehearsals are set for September for a shoot that starts in October. If you think you or your cousins have the chops to take on prodigy Aretha, you can submit for the role here.

Prodigy Alert: Aretha Franklin Biopic Is Taking Online Auditions To Play Young Aretha, Does The World Possess Such Talent?  was originally published on