The main score running through the entire Roots remake is called “Binta’s Theme,” composed by the miniseries executive music producer and The Roots drummer/co-frontman, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. It is a song Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in Africa would sing in the fields and passed through the generations in America.
Questlove described the theme to Ebony:
Basically, they’re having this recurring motif that will somehow travel through all eras of this movie. So it starts with Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in Africa singing this to herself in the fields. And somehow this haunting melody will find its way into the psyche of whatever character.
The Roots four-night, eight-hour event series premiered on Memorial Day across A+E Networks and garnered 5.3 million viewers, the highest ratings for a cable miniseries opening in three years.
Learn more about the Roots music production team below.
Questlove Thought The ‘Roots’ Story Was ‘Too Important Not to Be a Part of It’
Executive producer Will Packer brought on Questlove as the executive music producer for Roots last summer. His job was to create the authentic African sound and themes for the characters and produce the overall sound as the music progressed through each of the four nights, according to Variety.
The Roots drummer also wrote the main score for the event series called “Binta’s Theme.” He described to Ebony how it would “travel through all eras” of Kunta Kinte’s family even to the present day.
So I mean, it could be Kunta on the plantation in a church and he hears something like, ‘oh damn, that reminds me of that song my grandmom used to sing,’ ” he continues. “And then Chicken George and Kizzy will hear that: ‘oh man, this is what Kunta used to sing in the church.’ And there’ll be a juke joint. And then Alex Haley will hear it: ‘sounds just like the song my aunt Kizzy used to…’ And then Alex Haley’s grandchildren will be at the EDM club [laughter].
Questlove told the History channel that the telling of the Roots story was “too important to not be a part of it.” He also hoped the series would spur a conversation about a story that’s not black or white, but a human story.
‘Roots’ Features Music from Justin Bieber Collaborator ‘Poo Bear’
Another common theme running through the Roots remake is the song “Born This Way” by Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd and Jared Gustadt, the co-founder/president of the music licensing company Jingle Punks. Poo Bear recently collaborated with Justin Bieber on the Purpose tracks “Where Are You Now,” “What Do You Mean?” “Company” and more.
“Born This Way” played over the credits of “Night One.”
The duo planned to do one song for the miniseries, but recorded another track, “New Beginnings,” as well. It also led Poo Bear and Gustadt to form a new band named Bear and a Banjo. Gustadt told Billboard about making “Born This Way”:
I knew we needed the perfect song and I needed the perfect partner to do this. His lyrics, matched with my production and guitar playing ended up creating the perfect sound for this period.