Questlove Will Receive An Honorary Degree From The University of the Arts
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the multi-hyphenate creative and longtime drummer for the hip-hop group The Roots is set to receive an honorary degree from the University of the Arts during the Class of 2022 commencement on May 19.
According to the university’s press release, the graduation will kick off the school’s first in-person commencement ceremony since 2019, and it will take place at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music.
The prestigious honor comes after Questlove’s partnership with the Balvenie Distillery to launch a pioneering scholarship program with the University of the Arts, BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported. The Balvenie Fellowship is a Ph.D. creativity program that aims to support creative pursuits in various fields, including arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.
“Being creative is a mix of unfocusing your eyes in the right way, while still remaining focused on the picture.”
Raised in West Philadelphia, Questlove graduated from Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 1989. After graduating, he took classes in jazz and composition at the Settlement Music School. According to Black Past, he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University.
To date, Questlove is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, drummer, DJ, producer, director, culinary entrepreneur, and New York Times best-selling author. He serves as the musical director of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where his Roots band has served as the house band since 2014.
In 2021, Questlove made his directorial debut in the Academy Award-winning feature documentary Summer of Soul, which broke the record for Sundance’s highest-selling documentary. He has also written multiple books, including the New York Times’ bestsellers Mo’ Meta Blues and Creative Quest; the Grammy-nominated audiobook Creative Quest; Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation; the James Beard-nominated somethingtofoodabout; Mixtape Potluck; and the newly released Music Is History.
Throughout his musical career, the six-time Grammy Award-winning musician has landed directing and producing roles such as executive producer for D’Angelo’s album, Voodoo, Slum Village’s album Fantasia, Vol. 2, and Common’s album Like Water for Chocolate. In the early 2000s, he served as the musical director for Chappelle’s Show and executive music producer for projects like the 2014 Chris Rock film Top Five.