Happy Birthday, Questlove: A Journey In Music With The Living Music Legend

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Questlove 'MasterClass' photos

Source: MasterClass / Courtesy of MasterClass

Happy Birthday, Questlove! Ahmir Khalib Thompson, known professionally as Questlove, is a reputable musician, songwriter, disc jockey, author, music journalist, and film director. He has been involved in some of the most notable projects in music and he is a well sought after DJ. Let’s take a journey in music with the living legend as we celebrate Questlove’s 51st birthday today (Jan. 20).

Music’s In His DNA

Questlove can attribute his perfect pitch to his gifted parents. His father, Lee Andrews, was a singer. Questlove called Andrews his greatest teacher. His mom was also an entertainer. Jackeline Thompson was a model and dancer, and she was also part of his father’s band. They were a family act.

The Roots

He is a co-founder and drummer in iconic hip hop band, The Roots. He shares a story of how the band was a fortunate coincidence. Questlove shares with NPR how he initially said him and band member Tariq were in a group to impress a girl and the rest is history.

Music In TV

Questlove started his journey with music on television in 2004 when he played for Chappelle’s Show. In 2009, he picked up a more permanent gig, playing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009 to 2011. Later, he worked with Fallon again when he joined The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2014. He continued to play on the show to this day, and now serves as Music Director.

Grammys On Grammys

He is a five time Grammy winner. These include the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for Hang in There (2010), Best R&B Album for Wake Up! (2010), and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for You Got Me (1999). He has also won another Grammy, not with the Roots for Best Musical Theater Album (Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)). He won the Guldbagge Award for Best Music (The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975).

Highly Sought-After DJ

Former President Barack Obama requested him to dj his final White House party in January 2017. He also spent years curating a playlist, Musiaqualogy, for former First Lady Michelle Obama’s book tour.

A Skilled Producer

Questlove has produced music and featured on albums for D’Angelo, Amy Winehouse, John Mayer, Al Green, Jay Z, Jill Scott and  Erykah Badu among many other music luminaries.

More on the Big Screen

He has worked on several films and tv series in the music department, as a composer, actor and with creating the soundtracks. Some of his most notable projects include Soul, Atlanta, Detroit, and Summer of Soul, which was the hit documentary he directed himself.

Quest Love the Kids

He helps children collect records. This tidbit was revealed in a 2015 Questlove profile on Instagram titled “Pure Imagination: The World According to Questlove.” “Questlove’s new form of giving back is by taking his friends’ kids record shopping,” reads the piece. “He’ll spend $1,000 to $3,000 a trip, picking up full catalogs — the Beatles and Led Zeppelin — snagging the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.”

Questlove has a record collection totaling ~70K discs. He teaches music at NYU and the critic Robert Christgau described him as such: “His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless.”

Sharing the Knowledge

Questlove has since written his own memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. He also released another book last year entitled, Music Is History, where he pairs his wealth of musical knowledge with examination of America over the past fifty years.

Thank you Questlove for your many contributions. Happy Birthday!