The famous adage is that music marks time. That’s why native Philadelphian, Roots drummer and music aficionado Questlove is marking former First Lady Michelle Obama’s timeline through song. He recently curated a three-part playlist to coincide with Obama’s book tour. Obama’s autobiography is entitled Becoming, and Questlove’s curatorial skills showcase the soundtrack of how she became the woman she is today. The playlist is segmented into three eras: 1964-1979, 1980-1987, and 1988-2018.
The first two entries feature standard fare from music legends like Prince, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and more. The playlist from the last 20 years features contemporary R&B stars like Beyonce, Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae as well as hip-hop acts like Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, and Nas. The wide-ranging playlist, which plays during her book tour stops, runs the span of moods and vibes, paralleling the winding journey Obama took through her life.
She gave Billboard a statement that thanked Questlove and explained the playlist:
Like a lot of people, I connect many of my memories with the songs and melodies I was listening to at the time. From the jazz and Stevie Wonder of my childhood, to Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire as I came into my own as an adult, to Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe, and so many others who provided the stirring backbeats of my time in the White House — music has always been a defining part of who I’ve become. That’s why I’m so thankful to Questlove for curating these playlists and infusing them with his signature style. Life’s a little better when we live it to Questlove’s beat.
You can check out the playlists below: