The legacy continues with Grammy award-winning producer, composer, percussionist, bandleader, radio talk show personality, and social activist, James Mtume. Born James Forman, before acquiring the Mtume moniker through his association with U.S. Organization, a Black nationalist group, the prolific tour-de-force, revolutionized the musical landscape of commercial and progressive jazz, funk, R&B, and soul that continues to be sampled today. From his Philadelphia, PA roots to his final transition just last year in South Orange, NJ, the biological son of saxophonist Jimmy Heath, amassed a career high that knew no boundaries. Even before his meteoric rise to musical success, Mtume achieved athletic prominence as a champion swimmer but more importantly, he amplified his voice politically and socially as a true “messenger” for ‘the people.’ Mtume was even credited with the celebration of the first Kwanzaa in 1966. But it was his passion for music that drove him to lead his own Mtume band with singer Tawatha Agee and bassist Ray Jackson, and play as a sideman for jazz greats McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Gato Barbieri, Lonnie Liston Smith, Uncle Albert Heath, and father Jimmy Heath. Moreover, Mtume’s collaboration with Reggie Lucas yielded some of the greatest hits of all time from stellar artists including Stephanie Mills with “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” Phyllis Hyman, ”You Know How To Love Me,” and Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s classic duet, “The Closer I Get To You.” But most notable in Mtume’s repertoire of chart-topping hits is “Juicy Fruit,” which was not only certified platinum but cemented his place and reputation in iconic musical history.

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