Thursday Throwback – Patrice Rushen

Ever since she was able to put her little “baby fingers” on the piano keys, Patrice Rushen has been making music–hence the name of her production company, Baby Fingers Incorporated.  The Los Angeles, California was considered a child prodigy and, after graduating from high school, went on to earn a music degree from the University of Southern California.  In 1974 she released her debut album Prelusion, the first of three jazz albums on Prestige Records, the same label that released recordings by legendary jazz artists such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.  Much to the dismay of hardcore jazz fans, Rushen moved to Elektra Records and began her journey into the world of R&B with her 1978  release Patrice, which included the tunes “Hang It Up” and “When I Found You.”  The following year, Rushen released the album Pizzazz and hit the charts with the single “Haven’t You Heard,” which made it to the top ten on the Billboard R&B chart.  It was her 1982 album Straight From The Heart that yielded Rushen her biggest hit, “Forget Me Nots,” which made it to the top five on the R&B chart.  Along with the tunes “Remind Me” and a funky instrumental entitled “Number One,” the album shot to number four on the R&B chart and fourteen on the pop chart.  In addition to her fourteen solo albums, Rushen has worked on various television and film projects.  She composed the score for Robert Townsend’s breakout film Hollywood Shuffle, and wrote music for The Steve Harvey Show and the feature film Indecent Proposal, just to name a few.  Rushen also broke ground as the first woman musical director for the Grammy, Emmy and NAACP Image Awards, and was also the musical director for Janet Jackson’s worldwide Janet tour.  On average, Rushen receives about 30 requests weekly from artists who want to sample her music.  Some of the most notable artists to hit the charts sampling Patrice Rushen tunes are Kirk Franklin, who sampled “Haven’t You Heard” for his gospel hit “Looking For You;” George Michael who used “Forget Me Nots” for his hit single “Fast Love,” and of course Will Smith who also sampled “Forget Me Nots” for his smash hit from the feature film Men In Black.  In addition to her recording career, Rushen has also served as a professor at Berklee College of Music, in Boston and works with the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department’s “Grammy In The Schools” program, to establish music education programs for inner-city youth.

–Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughter, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at, visit him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @MontroseC.

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