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March 22, 2023

Questlove gets into the book publishing business with new company and forthcoming Sly Stone memoir

The Roots frontman's latest venture is called AUWA Books, a name that he says was inspired by Prince

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is already a drummer, author, producer and Oscar-winning filmmaker, but he's about to add another title to his resume: book publisher.

The longtime frontman of The Roots announced Wednesday he's starting his own publishing company AUWA Books, an imprint of MCD, which is in turn an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Titles have already been announced for later this year, including the first memoir from the legendary funk musician Sly Stone.

"I've very excited about AUWA Books, from the books we have lined up to the books we haven't discovered yet," Questlove said in a press release. "Let's take it to the page."

AUWA will publish nonfiction and fiction across many topics, though music is naturally an early focus. In addition to Stone's memoir "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," slated for an Oct. 17 release, the company will publish a music history book by Questlove, "Hip-Hop Is History," next year. Ben Greenman, an executive editor with AUWA, co-wrote both books.

Other planned releases include the first book from TikTok star Drew Afualo and "Handbook for the Revolution: The Essential Guide for Workplace Organizing" by Derrick Palmer, the vice president and co-founder of the Amazon Labor Union.

The name AUWA is a phonetic nod to the "bird-call noise" popularized by Prince on songs like "Baby I'm a Star," and was chosen to honor Questlove's "deep kinship" with the late musician. Questlove penned an essay to his idol for Rolling Stone after Prince's 2016 death, describing the four different copies of "1999" he snuck into his born-again Christian parents' home.

Questlove is already the author of nine books, including his forthcoming children's book due out next month. With AUWA, he aims to introduce readers to new stories and "lost voices" including Stone, who largely retreated from the public after his career peak with Sly and the Family Stone in the 1960s and 1970s.

"For as long as I can remember folks have been asking me to tell my story," Stone said in the release. "I wasn't ready. I had to be in a new frame of mind to become Sylvester Stewart again to tell the true story of Sly Stone. It's been a wild ride and hopefully my fans enjoy it, too."

Stone is also the subject of Questlove's next documentary, the follow-up to his Oscar-winning film "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)," which also prominently featured Sly & The Family Stone's performance during the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. The currently untitled film will be released on Hulu.

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