REAL CONVERSATIONS COMPANION: JAMES MTUME
OCTOBER ’14: REAL CONVERSATIONS with MELODY FOX
On Domestic Violence and Its Effect In Our Communities
James Mtume is a legendary percussionist, producer, songwriter, and activist. His activist works includes serving as an original member of the US organization in the 1960s and engaging in community organizing and activist education. The biological son of jazz saxophonist, Jimmy Heath and the son of pianist “Hengates” that raised him, Mtume’s musical roots run deep. A South Philadelphia native, Mtume’s journey in the music business gained momentum in the early 70s when he migrated to New York. Among many other notable performance experiences in jazz and other genres, he was the lead percussionist for the Miles Davis sextet from 1971-1975. Mtume has recorded on over 70 jazz albums. Further, as a two-time Grammy-award winner, his acclaim in music is characterized by working closely with diverse artists, such as Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Stephanie Mills, Phyllis Hyman, Teddy Pendergrass, Mary J. Blige, and D’Angelo.
In 1983, his band, Mtume, released the album “Juicy Fruit,” and the title song stayed at the top of the Billboard charts for 8 weeks; “Juicy Fruit” went on to be sampled by future generations of Hip-Hop and R&B artists, most notably “Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G., revered as a Hip-Hop classic. Whether through experimental music production, songwriting, or composition for many genres, including film (Native Son, 1986) and television scoring (New York Undercover), Mtume is recognized globally as a musical pioneer. Moreover, throughout his career, he has been vocal and candid in his examination of music, activism, relationships, and media. For 20 years, he hosted Open Line with Bob Slade and Bob Pickett on 98.7 Kiss FM, which became WBLS 107.5 FM. Mtume also served a guest co-host on COBA Radio’s Real Talk, Real Time, a community affairs show on Radio 103.9 FM from 7am-8am every Sunday in late 2014.
A father, grandfather, husband, honorary Ghanaian chief, prison outreach partner with the Street Doctor of Newark, anti-gun violence supporter, and dear friend to notables like Kenny Gamble, Professor Cornel West, and Minister Louis Farrakhan, love for the people is a part of James Mtume’s composition. He grew up witnessing domestic violence and is a huge proponent of men lending their voice to helping end this societal ill.