James Mtume

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This article is about the R&B musician. For the civil rights activist, see James Forman.
James Mtume
Birth name James Forman
Also known as Mtume
Born 1946
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres R&B, soul, post-disco, funk, quiet storm, smooth soul, hip hop, electro, jazz
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, radio personality, composer, record producer, instrumentalist, musician
Instruments Vocals, percussionist, piano, keyboards, sampler, drums, guitar, bass guitar,
Years active 1961–present
Labels Columbia (1972–76), various (1977–present)
Associated acts Reggie Lucas, Mtume, Phyllis Hyman, Stephanie Mills, Miles Davis, Jimmy Heath, Eddie Henderson, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Gato Barbieri

James Forman (born March 27, 1946), better known by his stage name James Mtume, is an American Grammy Award-winning R&B musician, songwriter and radio personality. He came to prominence working with Miles Davis between 1971 and 1975. Mtume's group, also called Mtume, is perhaps best known for the 1983 R&B hit song "Juicy Fruit", which has been much sampled. Mtume the band also had a top-five R&B hit with the single "You, Me, and He". 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.

Mtume, born and raised in South Philadelphia, is the son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, and the father of Damu Mtume and Fa Mtume, both music producers. He was raised however by his stepfather, a Philadelphia local jazz pianist James "Hen Gates" Forman. Mtume grew up in a musical environment with famous jazz musicians frequenting his parents' house. He learned to play piano and percussion; however, from his teenage years he was pursuing a sportsman career 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. After his return from the West Coast he moved to New York to pursue musician's vocation 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.[1] 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. His debut on a professional music scene was in a capacity of a composer when he contributed four out of five compositions on his uncle Albert "Tootie Kuumba" Heath's "Kawaida" jazz-album.[2] 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.

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • 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 sideman[edit]

With McCoy Tyner

With Gato Barbieri

With Miles Davis

With Art Farmer

With Jimmy Heath

With Eddie Henderson

with Harold Land

With Azar Lawrence

With The Piano Choir

With Buddy Terry

References[edit]

External links[edit]