James Mtume Dies at 75 - His Legacy Lives on through His 2 Sons Who Share His Musical Talent

Esther NJeri
Jan 10, 2022
02:45 P.M.
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Jazz and R&B percussionist James Mtume has passed on. The star, who rose to prominence as a jazz musician working with Miles Davis between 1971 and 1975, passed on at 75. 


His son confirmed the news of his demise to Pitchfork. The cause of his death remains unknown, even as fans worldwide continue to mourn a man who revolutionized Jazz. 

Born into jazz royalty in 1946, James Forman is the son of saxophonist Jimmy Heath but was raised by his stepfather, a Philadelphia local jazz pianist, James "Hen Gates" Forman.

Left: Singer James Mtume of the R and B/Soul group Mtume performs onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon on January 27, 1985, in London, England. Photo: Getty Images. Right: Mtume with his son Fa. Photo: Instagram/James Mtume


While he learned to play the piano and percussion early, he also pursued athletics. At 20, he joined Pasadena City College on a swimming scholarship. 


He later joined the Black empowerment group, recording his first-ever solo album "Alkebu-Lan – Land of the Blacks." Soon after, he returned to the East Coast and began playing Jazz with other big names such as Freddie Hubbard and McCoy Tyner.


Around the same time, he joined and played with the Miles Davis' band, a four-year stint that saw him rise to unimaginable recognition. Some of the most memorable material he created during this time was "Pangaea" and "Dark Magus."

In 1978, Mtume (a Swahili name that translates to "messenger") joined forces with vocalist Tawatha Agee and Lucas to form "sophistifunk." The band released hit albums such as "Theatre Of The Mind" and "You, Me And He."


Other songs credited to the band include the 1983 smash "Juicy Fruit," "In Search Of The Rainbow Seekers," and "Kiss The World Goodbye."

After two years of creating hit music, the band split, and Mtume began working as a producer. His works include R. Kelly's" Freak Tonight," Jo-Jo and K-Ci's "Love Always," and Mary J. Blige's "Share My World."


Besides being known for his advocacy for young and upcoming musicians, activists and executives, Mtume also helped facilitate singer-songwriter Bilal Sayeed Oliver's deal with Interscope Records. 


The "You Are My Sunshine" singer passed on on January 9, 2022, and his demise came as a shock to fans who loved and listened to his music. The star leaves behind two sons, Fa and Damu.

While not much is out there about the two, what is for sure is their love for music. They carry their legend father's propensity to music and are renowned music producers. 

From photos on the star's Instagram, it is clear that his family was super important to him. Among some of the images posted on his account, Mtume is in the company of his sons, who look exactly like him.