Mtume Honored with Ceremonial Street Renaming

James Forman, known professionally as James Mtume or Mtume, was born and raised in South Philly. His biological father was legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath of the Heath Brothers. Mtume was a jazz and R&B musician, songwriter, producer, activist and radio personality. He came to prominence as a jazz musician working with Miles Davis between 1971 and 1975.

In the 1980s, Mtume formed his own band, which combined jazz, funk and R&B. The group’s biggest hit was the 1983 single “Juicy Fruit” which reached No. 1 on the R&B charts and became a crossover hit on the pop charts.

“Juicy Fruit” is one of the most sampled songs, including by the Notorious B.I.G.

Mtume also had a top-five R&B hit with the single “You, Me, and He”. He created hits for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway (“The Closer I Get To You” and “Back Together Again”), and co-wrote and co-produced Stephanie Mills’ Grammy-winning “Never Knew Love Like This Before.”

Mtume joined the ancestors on January 9, 2022. He is gone but not forgotten. On May 12, 2023, the 1500 block of Wharton Street will be ceremoniously renamed James Mtume Way. Special guests include singer and actress Melba Moore and survivors of the Heath Brothers band. Faulu Mtume said:

It’s beyond words just how great this is, the City of Brotherly Love honoring my father, a Philly native. Wharton Street is where his journey into music, social activism and politics began. The roots for all three are there.