“The Roots” Photographer & Friend Dies
By Renee D. Turner, BET.com Staff Writer & Wire Reports
Mpozi Mshale Tolbert (The Indianapolis Star)
Posted July 5, 2006 – Mpozi Mshale Tolbert, the award-winning photographer who, among other works, shot the cover photo for the acclaimed Philly hip-hop group The Roots, died Monday in Indianapolis.
The 34-year-old 6 feet 6 inches newspaper photographer, who began his career in Philly, collapsed at his desk at The Indianapolis Star and later died, the newspaper reported.
No cause of death was reported.
Tolbert, described by family and friends as an artist with “heart and soul,” won numerous awards, including two prestigious Keystone Awards from the Pennsylvania Press Association: one for a photo essay on the AIDS quilt and a second for a photo illustrating housing discrimination against gays and lesbians. He shot the cover art for, and also did background vocals on, The Roots’ premier album "Do You Want More?!!!??!"
"Everything he shot had heart. It really had a soul to it. He didn't compromise when he took pictures," said Star photographer Bob Scheer said. "He never shot to please someone else. He did it his way," adding that Tolbert's photographs always were imprinted with a certain trademark, The Star reported.
His mother, Maisha Jackson, said, "He liked looking at things, and he was able to see things in a unique way," Jackson said. "He was able to see beauty and political value in very common things around him."