Patrice Louise Rushen is a jazz pianist and R&B singer. Allen and Ruth Rushen gave birth to her on September 30, 1954 in Los Angeles, California. Rushen is a musical prodigy who began playing the piano when he was three years old. At the age of four, her parents enrolled her in music classes at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music (USC). By the age of six, she was performing classical recitals and studying voice. Rushed graduated from Alain Leroy Locke High School in 1972, the same year she won the Monterey Jazz Festival’s solo musical competition.
Rushen signed with Prestige Records in 1973 and released three albums with the label: Prelusion (1974), Before The Dawn (1975), and Shout It Out (1977), all while earning her BA in Music Education and Piano Performance from USC in 1976. Eleckta Records released her next three albums, Patrice (1978), Pizzazz (1979), and Posh (1980). Prince wrote his hit song “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (1979) in honor of his crush on Rushen, who turned down all of his romantic advances.
Straight from the Heart (1982), which featured her top chart single “Forget Me Nots,” became her best-selling album. Rushen released her eighth studio album, Watch Out, in 1987, and then signed with Arista Records in 1993, where she released her ninth studio album, Anything but Ordinary, in 1994. Signature, her tenth album, and The Essentials: Patrice Rushen, her eleventh album, 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 Emmy Awards Music Director (1991, 1992). She was also the Peoples’ Choice Awards’ (1993) Musical Director, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s (2000-2001) Composer In Residence, the Annual Walk of Fame’s (2002, 2003, and 2004) Musical Director, and the first woman to serve as the Grammy Awards’ Music Director (2004, 2005 and 2006).
She was the Musical Director of the NAACP Image Awards for twelve years. Rushen received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2005 and has served as the college’s Ambassador For Artistry In Education since 2007. Since 2013, she has also served as the Department Chair of the Popular Music Program at her alma mater, the USC Thornton School of Music.
Rushen has shared the stage with artists such as 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 has two children: Cameron, a son, and Jadyn, a daughter.