James Mtume, a Grammy winner well-known for singles like “Juicy Fruit” and producing for artists like Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Stephanie Mills, and others, will be remembered in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a street bearing his name one year after his passing in January 2022. The event will be held on the 1500 block of Wharton Street in Philadelphia on Friday, May 12, 2023, from 11 am to 2 pm ET.
Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson represents Philadelphia’s Second District, where the street will be renamed in honor of the late James Mtume. He has been working in the city neighborhood since 2012.
“It’s beyond words just how great this is, the City of Brotherly Love showing a mighty love for my father, a Philly native,” says Faulu Mtume, the son of the music legend. “Wharton Street is where his journey into music, social activism and politics had begun. The roots for all three are there.”
James Mtume, who was born and bred in Philadelphia, began his career in jazz, working with legends like Miles Davis and his father, saxophonist Jimmy Heath, in the early 1970s. Years later, Mtume collaborated with fellow songwriter/producer Reggie Lucas to record songs for Stephanie Mills (the Grammy-winning “Never Knew Love Like This Before”), Phyllis Hyman (“You Know How To Love Me”), Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (“The Closer I Get To You,” “Back Together Again”), and Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (“The Closer I Get To You”). Mtume achieved success in the 1980s with the group that bears his name, scoring the top R&B single “Juicy Fruit” in 1983. Later, he contributed to the soundtracks for films and television shows and co-hosted the New York City-based discussion radio program Open Line.
After a battle with cancer, James Mtume passed away on January 9th, 2022. He was 75.