Mtume (pronounced Em-Too-May) comprised (at various times):
James Mtume (vocals, keyboards, conga's and percussion) b. James Forman, 3rd January 1946, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. d. 9th January 2022, South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Reginald Grant Lucas (lead and rhythm guitar and background vocals) b. Reginald Grant Lucas, 25th February 1953, Queens, New York, U.S.A. d. 19th May 2018, New York City, U.S.A.)
Tawatha Agee (lead and background vocals) b. 1954, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Basil Fearington (bass)
Raymond Earl Jackson (bass) b. 11th September 1941, U.S.A. d. 10th November 1972, U.S.A.
Philip Hunter Field (keyboards)
Ed 'Tree' Dennis Moore (guitar)
Leslie Ming (drums)
Hubert Barclay Eaves III (keyboards and synthesisers) b. St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Howard Terrance King (drums and background vocals)
James Mtume is a former jazz percussionist.
James collaborated with Miles Davis on his album ‘On the Corner’.
He was raised by his stepfather & his mother, James Forman, a jazz pianist who had played with Charlie Parker, and his mother, Bertha Forman.
He was a champion swimmer in high school and attended Pasadena City College on an athletic scholarship.
James joined Miles Davis’s band in 1971 and stayed until 1975.
When Miles stopped performing, James and the guitarist Reggie Lucas, another member of the Miles Davis group, joined Roberta Flack’s band.
James Mtume moved into Urban Contemporary and funk in the late '70's, and became one of the more successful producers and performers in both styles during the '80's.
The son of the great jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, Mtume was a conga player and percussionist who recorded and toured with Miles Davis and was featured on albums by the Heath Brothers, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and Freddie Hubbard.
He even recorded as a bandleader for Strata-East before turning to funk in the late '70's.
Their first album, of this period, was released in 1977 and was entitled 'Rebirth Cycle', although there were two earlier albums for the Third Street label.
rebirth cycle - 1977 / kiss this world goodbye - 1978
The following year came 'Kiss This World Goodbye' which contained the original version of 'The Closer I Get To You', later a hit for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, along with the popular instrumental 'Love Lock' (popular on the U.K. rare groove scene).
Mtume were signed to Epic in 1980 while James was still writing and producing with Reggie Lucas.
Mtume / Lucas wrote and produced the 1980 Mtume album 'In Search Of Rainbow Seekers'.
in search of the rainbow seekers - 1980 / juicy fruit - 1983
They had a number one R & B hit with 'Juicy Fruit' for Epic in 1983 and a number two single in 1984 with 'You, Me and He.'
you. me & he - 1984 / thater of the mind - 1986
They recorded for Epic until the late '80's before, Tawatha Agee went solo in 1987.
Their final top ten hit was 'Breathless' in 1986.
Mtume also teamed with another ex-jazz musician, Reggie Lucas, who had also been in Miles Davis' '70's band.
They produced and / or wrote for such artists as Stephanie Mills, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, the late Phyllis Hyman, Gary Bartz, Sadane, Lou Rawls, Rena Scott, and Eddie Henderson in the late '70's.
Group member Howard King worked as a producer for Smokey Robinson.
In 1988, James denounced hip-hop’s reliance on sampling, calling it ‘Memorex music’ and complained that the originators were ignored.
By the 1990s, James had grown dissatisfied with the music business and moved into talk radio.
Reggie Lucas died of heart disease in New York City, at the age of 65, in 2018.
James Mtume died on the 9th of January 2022.
He is survived by his wife, Kamili Mtume; his brother, Jeffrey Forman; two sons, Faulu Mtume and Richard Johnson; four daughters, Benin Mtume, Eshe King, Ife Mtume and Sanda Lee; and six grandchildren.
Kawaida (Third Street Records 1973)
Alkebu-Lan (Third Street Records 1975)
Rebirth Cycle (Third Street Records 1977)
Kiss This World Goodbye (Epic Records 1978)
In Search of the Rainbow Seekers (Epic Records 1980)
Juicy Fruit (Epic Records 1983)
You, Me & He (Epic Records 1984)
Theater of the Mind (Epic Records 1986)