Patrice Rushen

Straight from the Heart

Strut • 2021

Wikipedia has a list of signature songs, i.e. songs that represent the work of a musician. »Stan« by Eminem is included, as is »Light My Fire« by The Doors. Patrice Rushen is not listed, but with her evergreen »Forget Me Nots« and the accompanying album »Straight from the Heart,« the R&B singer and jazz pianist anticipated several checkmarks on the to-do list for today’s pop standards in 1982. Namely, groove, boundaries and business acumen. After three jazz albums, Rushen had initially made a hard-hitting image shift to R&B on the ’78 longplayer »Patrice,« which didn’t necessarily earn her goodwill in the traditional hardline jazz metier. Five years later, »Straight Form The Heart« was ostensibly a contemporary post-disco album with R&B grooves, dance beats and synth-pop harmonies, but her label Elektra had reservations that there would be no hits. Rushen’s reaction – in times of DIY, it seems almost boring today – is uncharted territory at the time: she pays for the promo out of her own pocket and ends up being rewarded with a Top 20 ranking and two GRAMMY nominations. That makes »Straight From The Heart« a precursor to the interpreneur, that is, a hybrid being of performer, producer and entrepreneur. Apart from the fact that Anita Baker, Sade or even En Vouge were generously inspired by the musical repertoire of slap-bass funk, soul sweetness and electric piano structures. Or even that the synthesizer motifs of »Remind Me« or »Where There Is Love« predefined the DNA of the Bad Boy Records catalog, and thus somehow of nineties hip-hop and R&B. Contrary to Will Smith’s mission and the brazen sample on »Men In Black,« this remains in timeless memory.

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