One of the most sought after Jazz and R & B Drummers of his generation, John “Lil’ John” Roberts has maintained his status in the industry as the ultimate heartbeat. A native of Philadelphia, John quickly became noted as a child prodigy, playing along side Christian McBride and Joey Defranceso at the age of 16. Collectively, the trio was also a part of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, a project created and directed by Wynton Marsalis, composed of 22 of the countries best young jazz musicians.
John’s formal studies began in 1991 when he was awarded a full scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. John studied at Berklee for two years where he then left to further pursue his touring career starting with R & B and Hip Hop artist Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith). Afterwards he went on to tour with Dionne Farris, Xscape, Monica, The Goodie Mob, and Joi and soon after that was called to fill the shoes of drummer Jonathan Moffet touring with Janet Jackson at the very early age of 23. John completed three successful tours with Janet Jackson that opened the doors to a whole new world of opportunities.
Having worked and recorded numerous records with George Howard who turned him onto the Contemporary Jazz Circuit. John found himself working nonstop with Jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Najee, George Benson, Rachelle Ferrelle, Jonathan Butler, Everette Harp, Boney James, Jeff Lorber, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, Bob Baldwin, Eric Essix, Rick Braun, Gabriela Anders and Gerald Albright, to name a few.
His list of credits also include many of the industries greatest such as: Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Prince, Sheila E, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Al Green, BB King, Paula Abdul, Yolanda Adams, Ne-Yo, Bruce Parham, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Patti Labelle, Juanita Bynum, India.Arie, Queen Latifah, Joss Stone, Raphael Saadiq, Lucy Pearl, Musiq Soulchild (Musical Director), Jill Scott, Kindred, Bilal, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dog, The Time, Frank McComb, Mos Def, Common, Earth, Wind and Fire, again, and a host of others.
John’s television credits include: Houseband drummer for the Monique Show, The Queen Latifah Show, The Ray Charles Tribute Live at the Staples Center, Tribute to Quincy Jones, American Idol, The American Music Awards, MTV Awards, Billboard Awards, Image Awards, The Trumpet Awards, VH1 Fashion Awards, BET Soultrain Awards, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Chris Rock Show, Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Good Morning America, Good Day Atlanta, Jimmy Kimmel, Arsenio Hall, The View, Saturday Night Live, the Pre Grammy Show and most recently 2 Seasons of BET’s Sunday Best. Apollo Live, BET’s Comicview, 2013 TLC Performances and Stevie Wonder’s A House Full of Toys holiday concert.
After writing producing with various Jazz and Funk Artists such as Walter Beasley, Rachelle Ferrelle, as well as his band “The Chronicle” and completing records with Anita Baker and Kirk Whalum, John has concentrated his efforts on his debut album, Heartbeat set to be released May 2014. Heartbeat will feature friends of Lil’ John such as Stokley of Mint Condition, Eric Roberson, Robert Glasper, Anthony David and a number of up & coming artists.