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James Forman (born March 27, 1946), better known by his stage name James Mtume, is an American Jazz and R&B musician, Grammy Award winning songwriter & Producer, activist and radio personality.

James Mtume
Birth nameJames Forman
Also known asMtume
Born (1946-01-03) January 3, 1946 (age 73)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresR&B, soul, post-disco, funk smooth soul, hip hop, electro, jazz
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, radio personality, composer, record producer, instrumentalist, musician
InstrumentsVocals, percussionist, piano, keyboards, sampler, drums, guitar, bass guitar,
Years active1961–present
LabelsColumbia (1972–76), various (1977–present)
Associated actsReggie Lucas, Mtume, Phyllis Hyman, Stephanie Mills, Miles Davis, Jimmy Heath, Eddie Henderson, Gato Barbieri

He came to prominence as a Jazz musician, working with Miles Davis between 1971 and 1975. Mtume's R&B group, also called Mtume, is best known for the 1983 R&B hit song "Juicy Fruit", which has been repeatedly sampled. Mtume the band also had a top-five R&B hit with the single "You, Me, and He".

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Early life and careerEdit

James Forman, born and raised in South Philadelphia. He is the son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath,[1] however he was raised by his stepfather, a Philadelphia local jazz pianist, James "Hen Gates" Forman.

Mtume grew up in a musical environment with jazz musicians frequenting his parents' house. He learned to play piano and percussion; however, from his teenage years he was pursuing athletics as a swimmer, having achieved the title of the first black Middle Atlantic AAU champion in the backstroke, and in 1966 he entered Pasadena City College on a swimming scholarship.[1]

In 1966 Mtume joined the US Organization, a Black empowerment group founded by Hakim Jamal and Maulana Karenga, while a student at Pasadena City College. Mtume received his name, which means "messenger" in Swahili, from Karenga who gave members of the organisation names to match their personality traits.[2] He was part of that group that celebrated the first Kwanzaa in 1966. In 1967 he co-edited The Quotable Karenga with Clyde Halisi, which has been called "the best expression of Karenga's ideas".[3] Mtume left the US Organisation in 1969.[4]

Mtume made two albums, Kawaida and Alekebulan: Land of the Blacks, intended to merge jazz and cultural identity.[5] Kawaida, which was recorded in December 1969, was Mtume's professional debut. He contributed four out of five compositions and was credited with naming the album which means "norm" in Swahili and represented the practice and philosophy of pan-African identity. Performers on the album included Don Cherry, Herbie Hancock, Biily Bonner and his uncle Albert Heath.[6]

After his return from the West Coast he moved to New York and had his first gigs as a sideman for McCoy Tyner (Asante album), Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, whose group he wound up joining and playing in for the next few years.[7]

He and Mtume band member, fellow musician Reggie Lucas both won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for writing and producing fellow R&B artist Stephanie Mills' top-ten hit "Never Knew Love Like This Before", for which she also won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

He has also worked as a session musician with Players Association, and has done on-air radio personality work at New York City's KISS 98.7 FM.[8] As a songwriter, Mtume has written hits for various artists such as Phyllis Hyman, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Stephanie Mills, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Teddy Pendergrass, Inner City, as well as being lead songwriter for his own band Mtume.

In July 2018, Mtume filed a lawsuit against Sony Music/Epic Records, hoping to reclaim the rights for two albums and his hit single "Juicy Fruit". Mtume claims to be the sole copyright of these recordings, while Sony insists that the albums were made for hire.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

He is the father of music producers Damu Mtume and Fa Mtume.[10]

DiscographyEdit

As leaderEdit

  • Alkebu-Lan: Land of The Blacks (1972, Strata-East Records) - with Mtume Umoja Ensemble (Carlos Garnett - Tenor & Flute, Leroy Jenkins - Violin, Gary Bartz- Alto and Soprano Sax, Stanley Cowell - Piano, Buster Williams - Bass, Billy Hart - Drums, and Joe Lee Wilson, Eddie Micheaux, and Andy Bey - Vocals. Yusef Iman and Weusi Kuumba - Poets.
  • Rebirth Cycle (1977 Third Street Records) - with Jean Carn, Stanley Cowell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heath, Cecil McBee, Leroy Jenkins, and Azar Lawrence.
  • Kiss This World Goodbye (1978) - with Mtume
  • In Search of the Rainbow Seekers (1980) - with Mtume
  • Juicy Fruit (1983) - with Mtume
  • You, Me and He (1984) - with Mtume
  • Theater of the Mind (1986) - with Mtume

As sidemanEdit

With Gato Barbieri

With Miles Davis

With Art Farmer

With Carlos Garnett

With Jimmy Heath

With Eddie Henderson

with Harold Land

With Azar Lawrence

With James Spaulding

With McCoy Tyner

With Buddy Terry

ComposerEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Interview: Mtume on Miles Davis, Juicy Fruit and Donny Hathaway's Last Recording Session". Red Bull Music Academy Daily. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  2. ^ Brown, Scot (2003). Fighting for US: Maulana Karenga, the US Organization, and Black Cultural Nationalism. NYU Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780814798782.
  3. ^ Joseph, Peniel E. (2013). The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era. Routledge. p. 341. ISBN 1136773479.
  4. ^ Widener, Daniel (2009). Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles. Duke University Press. p. 216. ISBN 0822392623.
  5. ^ Widener, Daniel (2009-01-01). Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822392623.
  6. ^ Widener, Daniel (2009). Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles. Duke University Press. p. 210. ISBN 0822392623.
  7. ^ Mtume (RBMA Tokyo 2014 Lecture) YouTube
    Interview: Mtume on Miles Davis, Juicy Fruit and Donny Hathaway’s Last Recording Session Red Bull Music Academy daily
  8. ^ Mtume (RBMA Tokyo 2014 Lecture) Youtube
  9. ^ https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8464283/james-mtume-sony-music-lawsuit-juicy-fruit-rights
  10. ^ Neal, Mark Anthony (2014-02-04). Songs in the Key of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation. Routledge. ISBN 9781135206802.

External linksEdit