PBS today announced that the third episode of NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER, a series from the pubcaster’s first multi-year collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, will feature the Grammy Award-winning hip hop group The Roots. Anchored by an unforgettable concert in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, the special explores how The Roots continue to push the boundaries of their art form while using their platform as the inaugural artist-in-residence of the Center’s Hip Hop Culture Program to foster the next generation of cultural leaders. NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER “The Roots Residency” premieres Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.organd the PBS Video app. 

“For more than 50 years, PBS and the Kennedy Center have shared a joint mission to bring the best of the performing arts to the American public,” said Sylvia Bugg, chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming at PBS. “NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER showcases the richness of the nation’s stage, helping to contextualize the cultural impact of contemporary artists like The Roots who are not only extraordinary musicians but passionate community leaders. As the series continues, we look forward to sharing a diversity of genres and stories.”

Known for electrifying live performances that blend hip hop, jazz, rap, soul and funk, The Roots regularly sell out concert venues when they’re not serving as the house band for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” “The Roots Residency” takes music fans beyond the stage, coupling live concert footage with a look at the band’s curatorial endeavors, masterclasses and humanitarian activities from their residency at the Kennedy Center. Respected cultural trailblazers, frontmen Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter are committed to inspiring and educating rising artists.

Viewers will meet EZY Truth, a Washington, D.C.-based hip hop artist and member of Black Thought’s “School of Thought,” a mentoring program for aspiring emcees. They’ll hear from Durrand Bernarr, an emerging R&B artist who participated in “The Road to the Roots Picnic,” a series of curated live performances that launched virtually during the pandemic. The episode also includes moments from “Music is History,” Questlove’s discussion with Reverend Al Sharpton about the drummer’s latest book, as well as Black Thought’s “Streams of Thought” conversation with photographer David Allen. 


“The Roots have existed at the forefront of culture for over three decades. They are deeply committed to ensuring that generations of artists and communities see themselves powerfully reflected through their work and at venerable institutions like the Kennedy Center,” said Simone Eccleston, the Center’s director of hip hop culture and contemporary music. “‘The Roots Residency’ is a testament to their capacity to not only change the lives of individuals but also to transform institutions. The impact of our partnership is that we are forever changed as an organization. Through their residency, The Roots have created powerful platforms for the celebration of multihyphenates, cultural leaders and emerging artists. We hope that viewers experience their genius as performers, curators and cultural catalysts.”

NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER, a new series of primetime performance specials, shines a spotlight on the Center’s contemporary culture program, bringing the best of the nation’s stage to viewers across the country. Captured to match the unique style of the artists, each episode of NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER weaves together performances filmed live at the Kennedy Center with intimate off-stage moments and first-person commentary. The series premiere, “Let My Children Hear Mingus,” can be streamed on PBS.org and the PBS Video app. The second episode, “A Joni Mitchell Songbook,” premieres Friday, Nov. 18, at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings) and will be available to stream the same day.   

NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER is a production of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Matthew Winer is the showrunner and executive producer for the Kennedy Center. Kristin Fosdick directs the series with her team in the Kennedy Center’s multimedia department. Elizabeth O’Neil is the associate director of content and strategy for PBS.  

NEXT AT THE KENNEDY CENTER was made possible, in part, by The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation and by contributions from public television viewers.