WCSU

Artist Profiles - Composer Patrice Rushen

Patrice Louise Rushen is a Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, composer and pianist.
Rushen was born in September, 1974 in Los Angeles, California. She demonstrated her musical potential at a young age and was regarded as a child prodigy. In her teens, she won the prestigious 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival. The attention garnered from this earned her a contract with Prestige Records in 1973.

After recording three albums and becoming an in-demand session player, including with artists such as Jean-Luc Ponty, Rushen signed with Elektra Records in 1978. Forging an engaging jazz/R&B/funk fusion, this fresh mixture of styles gave her great success. She earned her degree in music from the University of Southern California. As a mature woman, she became a jazz master and top musical director.

Due to her musical talents, Rushen has made many ground-breaking achievements. She became the first woman to serve as head composer/musical director for the Grammy Awards and the Emmy Awards, the first woman to serve as musical director for the NAACP Image Awards broadcast, an honor she held for twelve consecutive years. Rushen has been the only woman to be a musical director/composer for the People's Choice Awards, HBO's Comic Relief and the only woman musical director/conductor/arranger for a late-night television talk show, The Midnight Hour.

In 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 also continues to play keyboard and has played in the tour bands of Lee Ritenour and Wayne Shorter in recent years.