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Berklee Professor Lil' John Roberts Insight on WTS Drums

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

*Lil John Roberts is a TAMA drums artist and does not endorse Welch Tuning Systems, Inc.


One of the most iconic drummers of his generation, John “Lil’ John” Roberts has thrived in the music industry as a Berklee professor, producer, and drummer for Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, George Duke, and many more.

Recently John shared his experience playing WTS drums. Read more here:

Drummer Lil John Roberts reviews WTS drums

Lil' John Roberts on WTS Drums

For the past year, Lil' John Roberts has been playing a WTS Artistry Series™ 3-piece drum kit and snare, which feature the innovative WTS single-point tuning system.

John had this to say about his experience playing the WTS drums:

WTS Drums aren't like any drumset I've ever played before! The craftsmanship is A1, and the technology behind the tuning system is mind blowing! Imagine a drum that has a tuning key like an upright bass! You can go from high to low in seconds! Wow! Every drummer should have a kit.

When WTS artist Andrew Marsh first gifted Lil' John a WTS Artistry Series Snare in May 2021, John posted this great video and preliminary review:

# Repost John Roberts ・・・This wired tension drum design is ridiculous! And @wtsdrums has a full set like this snare drum that you can tune the same way! You can go from a high pitch to low within seconds during a show or in the studio! Thanks to WTS DRUMS and my buddy @drumsrdrew for sending me this piece of art to check out. I'm totally blown away by it's capabilities! Great job guys! Go and order you one of these! Or even a whole kit!

Lil' John has since gone on to use the WTS demo kit and snare in live shows, recordings, drum lessons, and more.

Lil John Roberts soundchecking on his WTS kit at the Rialto Theater in Atlanta (7/6/21)
Lil John Roberts soundchecking on his WTS kit at the Rialto Theater in Atlanta, Georgia (7/6/21)

(Read more great reviews of WTS drums here!)

Who is Lil' John Roberts?

Lil' John Roberts' impressive career began at a young age in Philadelphia, where he quickly became noted as a child prodigy, playing alongside Christian McBride and Joey DeFranceso at age 16. The trio was part of Wynton Marsalis' project, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which was comprised of the country’s 22 best young jazz musicians.

Following a full scholarship and 2 years of study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, John began his touring career with Hip Hop Artists DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith). After moving to Atlanta, he went on to record and tour with Dionne Farris, Xscape, Monica, The Goodie MOB, and Joi. At the request to fill in for Jonathan Moffett, Lil' John Roberts began touring with Janet Jackson at the age of 23 and continued to tour with her for two decades.

Having toured and recorded numerous records with George Howard, Lil' John was sought after in the Contemporary Jazz circuits and began working with the great George Duke, Rachelle Ferrell, and others including George Benson, Patti Austin, James Ingram, Bob Baldwin, Boney James, Erik Essix, Everette Harp, Gabriela Anders, Gerald Albright, Herbie Hancock, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Jonathan Butler, Najee, Peter White, Rachelle Ferrelle, and Rick Braun. John also recorded and co-produced Walter Beasley’s album “Going Home”.

Watch this fun recording with ELEW and Lil' John Roberts on his WTS snare (5/20/21):

Lil' John Roberts' extensive list of credits include work with: Al Green, Anita Baker, Anthony Hamilton, B.B. King, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Bilal, Bruce Parham, Common, Dave Chappelle (Juke Joint Tour), Dionne Farris, Earth, Wind & Fire, Elton John, Erykah Badu, Frank McComb, India.Arie, Joss Stone, Jamie Foxx, Jill Scott, Juanita Bynum, Kindred, Lucy Pearl, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson (Janet Tour, Velvet Rope Tour, Rock Witchu Tour, Unbreakable World Tour, and State of the World Tour), Michael Jackson, Mos Def, Musiq Soulchild (Jus Lisen Tour 2001 Music Director), Ne-Yo (Live in Concert, Red Tour 2012-2014), Paula Abdul, Patti Labelle, Prince, Queen Latifah, Quincy Jones, Raphael Saadiq, Russell Gunn, Sheila E., Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder (Songs in the Key of Life tour), The Time, TLC, Yolanda Adams, Capital Jazz Festival George Duke Tribute featuring Stanley Clarke, NDugu Chancellor, Jose Davis, Al Jarreau, Marcus Miller, Byron Miller, Jeffrey Osborne, Dianne Reeves, Fred Yonnet, Dave Chappelle, Seal, Keyon Harrold, and more who continue to seek out Lil John for a variety of performances.

Lil' John's television credits include: houseband drummer for the Monique Show, Queen Latifah Show, Ray Charles Tribute (Live at the Staples Center), Tribute to Quincy Jones, American Idol, American Music Awards, Black Music Honors Show, MTV Music Awards, Billboard Awards, Image Awards, 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, Pre Grammy Show, several seasons of BET’s Sundays Best, Apollo Live, BET Comicview, Stevie Wonder’s “A House Full of Toys” Tribute and more.

Drummer Lil John Roberts reviews WTS drums

After writing and producing with various artists and his own band, “The Chronicle”, John concentrated on his personal debut project entitled “The Heartbeat”, released in 2014. The album features Stokley of Mint Condition, Eric Roberson, Robert Glasper, Anthony David, and many other artists.

In 2019, Lil' John Roberts recorded a project with former Berklee bandmate, bassist Richie Goods, with an album dedicated to the great Mulgrew Miller called “My Left Hand Man”, which was supported by a tour nationally and overseas.

Today, John continues to gig and is a professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Watch Lil' John's student practicing on John's WTS drum kit (7/5/2021):


Want to learn more about Lil' John Roberts? Give him a follow:

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