Patrice Rushen (1954- )

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Patrice Louise Rushen is an R&B singer and jazz pianist. She was born on September 30, 1954 in Los Angeles, California to Allen and Ruth Rushen. Rushen is a musical prodigy who began playing piano at the age of three. In 1958 her parents enrolled her in music classes at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music (USC) at the age of four. By six she was performing classical recitals, and began studying voice. Rushed graduated from Alain Leroy Locke High School in 1972, the same year she won a solo musical competition at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

In 1973, Rushen signed with Prestige Records, and released her first three albums with the label: Prelusion (1974), Before The Dawn (1975) and Shout It Out (1977), while obtaining her BA in Music Education and Piano Performance from USC in 1976. Her next three albums: Patrice (1978), Pizzazz (1979) and Posh (1980), were under the Eleckta Records label. The musician Prince wrote his hit song “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (1979), in dedication to his crush on Rushen, who declined all his romantic requests. Her seventh album, Straight from the Heart (1982), included her top chart single “Forget Me Nots,” and became her biggest selling album. Rushen released her eighth album, Watch Out in 1987, and then moved on the Arista Record label in 1993, releasing her ninth studio album, Anything but Ordinary, in 1994. Her tenth album, Signature, and eleventh album, The Essentials: Patrice Rushen were released in 1997 and 2002 respectively.

Rushen also released four compilation albums: Let There Be Funk: The Best of Patrice Rushen (1980), Anthology of Patrice Rushen (1985), Haven’t You Heard: The Best Of Patrice Rushen (1996), and Forget Me Nots and Remind Me(1996). Her iconic single “Forget Me Nots,” was later featured in the theme song for the 1997 movie Men In Black. Rushen has also produced music for numerous television and major movies including Big (1988), The Steve Harvey Show (1996), and Ruby Bridges (1998).

Rushen was the first woman in 43 years to serve as Music Director for the Emmy Awards (1991, 1992). She was also Musical Director for the Peoples’ Choice Awards (1993), Composer In Residence for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (2000-2001), Musical Director for the Annual Walk of Fame (2002, 2003, 2004), and the first woman to serve as the Music Director of the Grammy Awards (2004, 2005 and 2006). For twelve years she was Musical Director of the NAACP Image Awards. Rushen was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree in 2005 from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and has been the Ambassador For Artistry In Education at the college since 2007. She has also been the Department Chair of the Popular Music Program at her alma mater, the Thornton School of Music USC since 2013.

Rushen performed with various musicians including Carlos Santana, Nancy Wilson, Michael Jackson, and Boys II Men. Rushen has been married to musical producer Marc St. Louis since January 4, 1986 and the couple have a son, Cameron, and a daughter, Jadyn.