Questlove hollas back to his Philly 'roots'

Ahmir Khalib Thompson, a/k/a Questlove, is a Philly guy who's coming up big for his alma mater.
Ahmir Khalib Thompson, a/k/a Questlove, is a Philly guy who's coming up big for his alma mater.
Posted: May 06, 2013

AHMIR KHALIB Thompson remembers his roots - in every sense of the word.

Thompson, better known in Philly and throughout the world as Questlove, is the frontman for The Roots, the alternative hip-hop band that can be seen weeknights on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."

Questlove formed the group in the 1980s with classmate Tariq Trotter, now known as Black Thought, when the two were students at the High School of Creative and Performing Arts in South Philadelphia.

So when news broke last week that CAPA had no money to produce its annual musical due to budget cuts, Questlove stepped up. The Roots' drummer called CAPA principal Johnny Whaley Jr. about 2 p.m. yesterday.

"He read the article in the newspaper," Whaley said. The conversation was brief - about two to three minutes - but it was clear that Questlove "wanted to help his alma mater." He "wanted to make a sizable donation to the school," Whaley said.

Questlove did not define "sizable" for Whaley, but did say his manager would work out the details with Whaley via email.

But no amount of Questlove's money can save this year's musical now: The deadline for producing a show passed about a month ago, Whaley said. The school is now looking forward to ensuring that next year's musical is funded and ready to be produced with the help of its Home and School Association.

The musicals generally cost about $65,000 to produce, Whaley said. "There's a certain standard of excellence we have. We don't compromise when it comes to production," he said.

The news prompted others to call Whaley as well, including local lawyer A. Charles Peruto and Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, a marketing and public- relations firm in Montclair, N.J.

Kasbo, 43, said when he read the story about CAPA's financial issues, "It sort of hit a chord with me. It resonated with me."

Kasbo called Whaley and the two planned to meet May 13. Kasbo will bring along Verasoni's digital division chief, Sasha Idriss, for a tour of the school and to discuss some ideas with Whaley.

"I do have a campaign in mind," said Kasbo, who declined to give details. "That show will go on next year."


On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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