Legendary music composer, producer, song writer and performer JAMES MTUME created his own sound branded “sophisti-funk”.
MTUME attributes his success to his courageous spirit. “I was never afraid to be different and push forward. I always moved on to a new sound instead of going back to what I’d already done. As an artist it’s about finding your own unique voice.”
Throughout his extensive career, MTUME has been a part of creating so many amazing and timeless hits. He wrote and produced the classic, “The Closer I Get To You”, by Donnie Hathaway and Roberta Flack and his own band’s mega hit, “Juicy Fruit”, which is still being sampled 35 years later! “Man, I’ve worked with the ‘best of the best’ as far as artists go. Teddy Pendergrass, Gerald LeVert, Roberta Flack and the list goes on.”
MTUME was born in South Philly and relocated to California in his young adult years and was instantly fascinated by its rich music scene. He immersed himself and it wasn’t long before his wondrous talents were noticed…the late, great Miles Davis invited him to play in his band and became his mentor. “Miles gave me so many precious jewels regarding music. He was a brilliant, brilliant artist and a dear friend.”
His musical influences also include Curtis Mayfield, Gamble and Huff, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. “I draw lessons from those who I admire. My music comes through me not from me.” MTUME’s special gift for music allows him to write and produce music personally designed for each artist he works with.
Many may not know that MTUME scored the entire soundtrack for “New York UnderCover”, the 1990’s ground-breaking television series most notable for its musical sequences absent of any dialogue or sound effects, instead accompanied by music. Although he writes, composes and produces music, he says scoring is the most rewarding to him. “Scoring allowed me to press the boundaries and explore new ideas.”
MTUME is currently working on a new project with his former band member TOWATHA AGEE. I’m so excited to be back in the studio with TOWATHA! She has one of the most infectious, soulful and gorgeous voices in R&B!” The project is slated to drop in spring of 2018 and is guaranteed to be fantastic.
He tells us he stays hip listening to the newer artists. “Our music is timeless and I want to keep it alive. I get energy from the younger generation. I would love to work with Kendrick Lamar. He is an extraordinary talent and I truly enjoy his music. I also enjoy listening to SZA and J.Cole. I admire their originality. There’s not enough of that in todays music. I haven’t seen a real original talent since Miles Davis. Copying someone else’s style may get you in the door but it won’t keep you there. The key is to find your own sound and build on it. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. This is a great time to be in the music business. Young people have a big advantage, they have direct access to the internet to promote their music. We had to rely on record companies.”
Tune in to TV ONE to learn more about JAMES MTUME’s life and phenomenal career on the new episode of UNSUNG.
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