Patrice Rushen

The biggest thrill for me is the process. So as long as I’m able to be viable and active and doing what I love, which is the process of making music and the playing, then I’ll feel okay.”


Patrice Rushen started out as a musical child prodigy and blossomed into a notable artist. She is a highly regarded  jazz pianist and R&B artist. This post will describe the life and impact that Patrice Rushen made to the music industry. 

Artist History

Patrice Rushen was born on September 30, 1954 to Mother Ruth Rushen and Father Allen Rushen in Los Angelos California. She is the eldest of two daughters. When she was in preschool, her teacher had noticed how intune Patrice was when the class would do musical activities. Her teacher recommended that she be enrolled at USC, a program for child prodigies. At the age of three, Patrice Rushen began playing the piano  and by age six she began giving classical recitals. Throughout Patrice Rushen’s life she has had plenty of access to develop her career before it skyrocketed.  At 17 she performed with her band at a jazz festival. Patrice Rushen wasn’t necessarily influenced by any artist but was influenced by the teachers around her. Patrice continued her music education all the way through to earn a music degree and before you know it she was signed to the ‘Prestige’ label, ultimately recording three albums with them. She would later go on to record with Elektra. As she got older, Patrice Rushen met her husband, music manager and producer, Marc St. Louis in 1986. They both have a son named Cameron St.Louis and a daughter named Jadyn.  

Professional Career

As mentioned before ,Patrice Rushen in the early part of her career, recorded with prestige records.  Her very first album was ‘prelusion’ at the age of 20 in 1974.  This album was almost entirely self composed by her. Soon after that would be the albums ‘Before the Dawn’ and ‘Shout it out.’ The middle of her singing career is when Patrice Rushen really started to grow her audience and gain a fanbase. Patrice started to fuse jazz, soul, and funk in her music. From there, she had grown from a jazz pianist to a regarded R&B artist. The albums ‘Patrice’, ‘Pizzazz’ , ‘Posh’ , ‘Straight from the heart’ , and ‘Now’ were all commercial hits that really boosted her career. Towards the later part of her career, Patrice Rushens music started to become household music.  Not only did she make strides in the music industry but in the film industry as well. Her song ‘The latter’ was a sampled song in George Micheals ‘fastlove’ and in the ‘Men in Black’ movie starring Will Smith. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin even used this song in the crossover song ‘Looking for you.’ Patrice Rushen didnt just stop there, she continued to make songs in the 2010’s era as well.   


Patrice’s contemporaries include many other R&B artists like Regina Belle, Diana Ross, and Donna Summer.

Regina Belle

Diana Ross

Donna Summer


There were no known specific artists that influenced Patrice Rushen but she mentions that Education played a vital role in her career. She mentions that Los Angelos high school that she attended was ahead of its time. They were playing high orchestra and jazz repertoire. This has widened her perspective on contemporary music which is most likely why she dabbled in other forms of music. Patrice Rushen also mentions that her school instilled in their students preparedness, as in being prepared for opportunity. She believes that her high school gave her fundamentals to succeed. Not only that Patrice brings up that her high school music teacher, Reggie Andrews, influenced her.  Patrice has always known that she wanted to become a musician but didn’t know the path to getting there. She mentions that her high school showed her that her dreams are possible.  She got her first gig through the high school and believes that her high school gave her the fundamentals to succeed. 


  • Grammy Nomination for Best R&B Instrumental Performance (1983)
  • Grammy Nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1983)
  • Best contemporary Jazz Performance (1998)
  • ASCAP Songwriter’s Award (1988)
  • USC Black Student Assembly, Legacy of Excellence Award, (1992)
  • Crystal Award, American Women in Film (1994)
  • ASCAP Award, Most Performed Song in Motion Pictures for 1997 for ‘Men in Black,'(1998)
  • [NAACP Image Award]] Nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Recording for “Signature” (1998)
  • Honorary Doctrate Berklee College of Music, (2005)
  • The Ramo Music Faculty Award, (2020)

Social involvement

There are no known social involvements but recently Patrice Rushen was involved in the “Justice comes alive” virtual music festival. Its a donation based event and during this festival Rushen participated in a conversation about how to eliminate racial inequality. The proceeds of the donations benefitted the participating artists of the festival and the black lives fund. She is also the chair of USC Thornton Popular Music program.   


Patrice Rushen has paved many roads in the music industry. She got her start as a jazz pianist but later branched out into the R&B genre.  Besides Patrice Rushens performing and writing career, she is a multitalented African American artist. Her music has become recognizable and many know her songs word for word, lyric for lyric. She has become a household name and her music will be known for generations to come. Patrice Rushen continues to make strides today as a music educator at Berklee. Her talent continues to be unmatched. 



GLEN, JOHN M., et al. “African American History.” Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 100, no. 4, 2004, pp. 321–345. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Sept. 2020.


McCarter, Frances. “Jazz Lady.” Umoja Sasa, vol. 6, no. 2, 1979, pp. 14–14. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Sept. 2020.


Porter, Lewis. “‘You Can’t Get up There Timidly’: Jazzwomen: Part II.” Music Educators Journal, vol. 71, no. 2, 1984, pp. 42–51. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Sept. 2020.


Price, Emmett G. “Melba Liston: ‘Renaissance Woman.’” Black Music Research Journal, vol. 34, no. 1, 2014, pp. 159–168. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Sept. 2020.


Smith, David L. “RECORDINGS.” The Virginia Quarterly Review, vol. 56, no. 1, 1980, pp. 31–37. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Sept. 2020.


Mitchell, G. (2019, August 14). Patrice Rushen Revisits Career Through New Vinyl/CD Retrospective. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

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