@ the Indigo 02
29 July 2011
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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 honour 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 honoured
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
ASCAP honoured 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”.
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 honoured 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 honoured 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