James Mtume is a Grammy-Award Winning Artist, and he has died at 76

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James Mtume, the legendary jazz and R&B musician, Grammy-winning songwriter and activist, has died. He was 75.

Mtume was best known for his band’s 1983 R&B hit “Juicy Fruit.” Less than 10 years later it would become the breakout single for one of music’s most prolific artists– The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,”Published in 1994.

James Forman was born James Forman in 1946. He grew up in Philadelphia, where he was heavily influenced by jazz music from his parents. Jimmy Heath, a saxophonist, was his father. He was raised by his stepfather, James “Hen Gates”Forman, who was a jazz pianist. Mtume took up piano and percussion.

He attended Pasadena City College in 1966 on a swimming scholarship. In 1966, he was also a member of the Black empowerment group US Organization. That year, he received his Swahili name Mtume (which means “Heaven”). “messenger.”

His life was about to take him down a path that was not his. 

Mtume quit the organization in 1969. He also recorded his first records that year. “Kawaida” “Alekebulan: Land of the Blacks.”Mtume would later go back to the east coast, this one to New York City. There he would be reunited with McCoy Tyner (with whom he would later become a member of), and Miles Davis.

In 1981, Mtume added Grammy winner to his resume for his work alongside band member Reggie Lucas for penning Stephanie Mills’ hit, “Never Knew Love Like This Before.”

Mtume was also well-known for his collaboration with other artists, including Donny Hathaway and Phyllis Hyman. Mary J. Blige was also a fan.

He would later join Bob Slade and Bob Pickett as co-hosts of Radio One. “Open Line,” a news and community affairs program that aired on New York City’s 98.7 KISS FM.

It was met with shock and confusion when Mtume’s news spread via social media.

Lalah Hathaway was a singer who tweeted “#Mtume Giant. #RIP.”

Questlove wrote part. “Thank you James Mtume for all the wisdom & love & respect you’ve shown me & my brothers over the years. #JamesMtume”

Twitter also saw the Reverend Al Sharpton weigh in, “A talented and gifted artist, activist and thinker. I was so blessed to have him in my journey, the world is a better place because of Mtume. May he Rest in Peace and Power. I miss you already.”

Mtume’s cause of death has not yet been released. Mtume’s two children Fa Mtume (and Damu Mtume) are his survivors.