Patrice Louise Rushen (born September 30, 1954) is an American jazz pianist and R&B singer. She is also a composer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and music director.
Her 1982 single “Forget Me Nots” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The instrumental “Number One” from her album Straight from the Heart earned an additional Grammy nomination for best instrumental. Her 12th album Signature also received a Grammy nomination for best instrumental in 1998.
Rushen also serves as an ambassador for artistry in education at the Berklee College of Music and the chair of the popular music program at the USC Thornton School of Music.
Rushen is the elder of two daughters born to Allen and Ruth Rushen. Patrice was three years old when she began playing the piano, and by the time she was six, she was giving classical recitals. In her teens, she attended Locke High School and later earned a degree in music from the University of Southern California.
After winning a competition at the age of 17 that enabled her to perform with her band at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Rushen signed with the Prestige label, releasing three albums with them – Prelusion (1974), Before the Dawn (1975), and Shout It Out (1977). In 1978, when she was 23, she began recording with Elektra.
Rushen married Marc St. Louis, a concert tour manager and live show production specialist, in 1986. They have one son, Cameron and one daughter named Jadyn. The name of her publishing company, Baby fingers Inc., is pulled from her nickname Babyfingers for her tiny hands. In 2005, Rushen received an honorary doctorate of Music degree from Berklee College of Music. She is the chair of popular music at USC and the ambassador of artistry in Education at the Berklee College of Music. She has served as the film composer for numerous movies television shows and documentaries. She has been a member of jazz fusion band CAB, The Meeting (GRP Records) with Ndugu Chancler, Alphonso Johnson and Ernie Watts. Rushen is also a music director, having worked on various television events as well as Janet Jackson’s world tour ‘Janet’.
Her song “Hang It Up” was featured on the 2005 video game Fahrenheit.
Rushen’s songs are sampled often in other artists music. The chorus from “Forget Me Nots” was used as the music for the 1997 song “Men in Black”. Rushen was credited as writer and composer, along with Will Smith and Terri McFadden. The same chorus can be heard in George Michael’s song “Fastlove”. “Forget Me Nots” previously found its way into the trampolining scene in the film Big. Her song “Haven’t You Heard” was sampled in Kirk Franklin’s Looking For You from the Norbit soundtrack.
Rushen was the first woman to serve as music director for the 46th, 47th, and 48th Grammy Awards. She was the only woman music director/conductor/arranger for a late-night show titled The Midnight Hour, which aired on CBS in 1990.
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