Multi-Grammy nominated artist, Patrice Rushen, is fashioning her career after the legacy of her long-time friend and mentor, Quincy Jones. Composer…Producer…International Recording Artist…Rushen has definitely earned the respect she has been awarded by her peers in the music industry.
Admired by many for her groundbreaking achievements, Rushen has amassed an impressive list of “firsts”. She was the first woman to serve as Musical Director for the 46th, 47th & 48th Annual Grammy Awards, the first woman in 43 years to serve as Head Composer/Musical Director for television’s highest honor, the Emmy Awards and the first woman Musical Director of the NAACP Image Awards, an honor she held for 12 consecutive years. Rushen has also been the only woman Musical Director/Composer for the Peoples Choice Awards and HBO’s Comic Relief. She was the only woman Musical Director/Conductor/Arranger for a late-night television talk show. The show was The Midnight Hour, which aired on CBS.
In addition, Rushen was named the Musical Director/Composer for Newsweek’s first American Achievement Awards, broadcast from the Kennedy Center and she served as the Musical Director for Janet Jackson’s World Tour, “janet.” As the Musical Director for the award shows, she composed and performed special musical tributes to Michael Landon, Ted Turner, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, The Temptations, James Garner and Leonard Bernstein to name a few. Rushen was named Composer in Residence during the August 2004 sessions at the Henry Mancini Institute.
A classically trained pianist, Rushen has spent a lifetime honing the skills that make her one of the music industry’s most versatile and sought after artists. In 1998, she was again honored by the music industry when her adult contemporary CD, “Signature”, received a Grammy nomination. The CD also received an NAACP Image Award nomination and also landed in the top ten of the adult contemporary jazz charts. The critically lauded, chart topping style she championed in the 70’s and 80’s — a jazz/R&B/pop fusion that combines melodic accessibility with instrumental prowess. This not only became her signature style, but also has continued to be a mainstay of popular radio.
Rushen receives some 30 requests weekly to use her music for samples, especially for rap albums. A few of the artists that have requested her music include Kirk Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Zhane, George Michael, Shabba Ranks and Heavy D. Many more performers have scored their own hits using samples from Patrice’s songs. In 2007, Kirk Franklin had an award winning hit with “Looking For You,” which is a gospel version of her hit song “Haven’t You Heard.” Most notably is the smash hit “Men in Black”, which Will Smith recorded for the movie of the same name. The song was sampled from her 1982 Grammy nominated recording, “Forget Me Nots”.
ASCAP honored her publishing company for the song “Men in Black,” as the 1997 ASCAP Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture. George Michael also had a dance-hit version of “Forget Me Nots” with “Fast Love”, which also sampled that song and featured Rushen’s original vocal tracks. ASCAP presented her with the songwriter’s award for 2007 ASCAP Top Gospel Song, “Looking For You” based on the recording by Kirk Franklin.
In addition to her success as a recording artist and musical director, Rushen is also an accomplished composer providing musical scores for Emmy-nominated television movies and series among which include Showtime’s “The Killing Yard” starring Alan Alda and directed by Euzhan Palcy; “Just A Dream”, Danny Glover’s directorial debut; the Sundance Film Award winning “Our America”, directed by Ernest Dickerson; “Fire and Ice” starring Kadeem Hardison for the BET Network; HBO’s “America’s Dream”, starring Danny Glover and Wesley Snipes; the critically acclaimed Wonderful World of Disney telefilm, “Ruby Bridges”; Masterpiece Theater’s “Cora Unashamed” starring Regina Taylor and C.C.H. Pounder; “Brewster Place” starring Oprah Winfrey; the PBS documentary, “A. Phillip Randolph” and Lifetime’s “For One Night” starring Raven-Symone. Rushen also composed the theme song for the hit TV sitcom, “The Steve Harvey Show.”
Rushen’s feature film composing credits include “Men In Black,” “Waiting To Exhale,” Sandra Bernhardt’s “Without You I’m Nothing,” and Robert Townsend’s breakthrough film, “Hollywood Shuffle.” See FILMOGRAPHY AND TELEVISION CREDITS.
As a producer, Rushen helmed Sheena Easton’s “The Nearness of You” for the hit film “Indecent Proposal,” which led to an album of jazz standards, No Strings, in 1993, which Rushen also produced and MCA released.
Considered one of the world’s top jazz pianists, Rushen has performed with and produced for such esteemed artists as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Prince, Lionel Hampton, Carlos Santana, Boys II Men, George Benson, Jean Luc Ponty, Tom Jones, Nancy Wilson, Michael Jackson, Dianne Reeves, Sheena Easton, Stanley Turentine, Joshua Redman and on and on. She has played at some of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and events.
Rushen has performed with Philharmonic Orchestras and has even written an award-winning symphony. She has served as Composer in Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the 2000 & 2001 concert season. She has composed several symphonic works since 2000, each a commissioned assignment by a major orchestra and the World Premiere of each one of the symphonic works has been performed to rave reviews.
She has 14 solo albums to her credit and a greatest hits anthology released on Rhino Records in 1997. She has also recorded two albums with The Meeting, the world-renowned jazz super-group, which includes Rushen, Ndugu Chancler and Ernie Watts.
In April 2008, Rushen accepted a professorship at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, in Boston. The course is “Patrice Rushen: The Value of Music Education.” She was honored with an assignment in March 2008, as Music Director and host of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s, “LA Phil Presents: A Tribute to Ella.” The event featured 5 outstanding vocalists paying tribute to the incredible vocal talents of the great Ella Fitzgerald.
Rushen received an Honorary Doctorate of Music degree in 2005, from Berklee College of Music for her “outstanding contribution to music and culture.” In 2006, she was honored by Jazz At Lincoln Center at “The 2nd Annual Diet Coke Women In Jazz Festival” held at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York, for her contribution to music.
Currently, her career focus is composing for films, television and orchestras. She still enjoys performing and is often asked to make guest appearances at music festivals and on the recording projects of other artists. Rushen was the host of Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, “40 Years of the Monterey Jazz Festival,” which has been released on DVD. She was also featured on HGTV’s “Houses of Note” special.
Rushen spends whatever free time she has working closely with the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, NARAS “Grammy In The Schools” program and other organizations dedicated to establishing music education and mentorship programs for inner-city youth.