The Kennedy Center



?uestlove’s father was Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & The Hearts, a 50s doo-wop group. His parents did not want to leave him with babysitters, and took ?uestlove on tour with them. He grew up in backstages of doo-wop shows, and began drumming at the age of two. By the age of seven, ?uestlove began drumming on stage at shows, and by 13, had become a musical director.

As a teenager, ?uestlove’s parents enrolled him at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. By the time he graduated, he had founded a band called The Square Roots (later dropping the word “square”) with his friend Tariq Trotter (Black Thought). ?uestlove’s classmates at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts included Boyz II Men, jazz bassist Christian McBride, and jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco.

?uestlove began performing on South Street (akin to Greenwich Village and Haight Ashbury) in Philadelphia using drums, while Tariq rhymed over his beats and rhythms.

Professional music career

The Roots’ roster was soon completed, with ?uestlove on percussion, Tariq Trotter and Malik B on vocals, Josh Abrams (Rubber Band) on bass (who was replaced by Leonard Hubbard in 1994), and Scott Storch on keyboards. While the group was performing a show in Germany, they recorded an album entitled “Organix”, released by Relativity Records in 1993.

The group continued recording, releasing two critically acclaimed records in 1995 and 1996, “Do You Want More?!!!??!” and “Illadelph Halflife”, respectively. In 1999, The Roots entered mainstream pop cosciousness with “You Got Me” (featuring Erykah Badu); a song which would earn the band the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for 2000. ?uestlove shines in the final minute of this song as he unleashes a massive drum n’ bass groove over the last chorus. The song helped fuel the success of their “Things Fall Apart” album which has since been hailed as a classic, eventually selling gold. The group went the experimental route and returned in 2002 with the rock-influenced “Phrenology”, which also went gold. Two years later, The Roots released “The Tipping Point”, which contained a more mainstream sound, due to demands from Geffen records. The album did not sell very well (400,000 copies), although ?uestlove shines in the bonus track remake of George Kranz’s “Din Da Da.

Besides being the drummer for The Roots, ?uestlove has also lent his talents to other artists, projects, and productions.

He was the drummer for The Philadelphia Experiment, a collaborative album released on Rope-a-Dope Records in 2001 and the DJ of the compilation “?uestlove Presents: Babies Making Babies”, released on Urban Theory Records in 2002. He also served as executive producer for D’Angelo’s 2000 album “Voodoo”, Slum Village’s album “Fantastic, Vol. 2” and Common’s albums “Like Water for Chocolate” and “Electric Circus”. Besides the aforementioned albums, he has also contributed as a drummer or producer to Erykah Badu’s “Baduizm” and “Mama’s Gun”, Dilated Peoples “Expansion Team”, Blackalicious’ “Blazing Arrow”, Bilal’s “1st Born Second”, N.E.R.D.’s “Fly Or Die”, Joshua Redman’s “Momentum”, and Zap Mama’s “Ancestry In Progress”, among others.

Played drums on Christina Aguilera’s song “Loving Me 4 Me” for her 2002 album “Stripped”.

In 2005, ?uestlove appeared, along with such luminaries as Madonna, Iggy Pop, Bootsy Collins, and Little Richard, in a television commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone.

In 2006, ?uestlove appeared as himself in the film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and served as arranger and producer of the concert and soundtrack. With the exception of The Fugees, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, ?uestlove served as the drummer for nearly every performer at the 2004 Brooklyn street concert.

?uestlove was given an Esky for Best Scribe in Esquire magazine’s 2006 Esky Music Awards in the April issue.

This biography was taken from

Watch Past Performances


Youth Speaks, in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Millennium Stage, present an evening to celebrate the winners of the national spoken word competition designed to foster discussion among young people and adults about the challenges and opportunities students face as they strive to stay on the path to graduation. Hosted by D.C. hip-hop artist Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, the program will feature performances from each of the five winners, plus an appearance by DJ Questlove and Black Thought, NPR’s Glynn Washington, and Hill Harper.  The RAISE Up project is part of American Graduate - Let's Make It Happen! - a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Free general admission tickets will be distributed in the Hall of Nations starting at approximately 4:30 p.m., up to 2 tickets per person.