Rushen is the elder of two daughters born to Allen and Ruth Rushen. In her teens, she attended south LA's Locke High and went on to earn a degree in music from the University of Southern California. Rushen married Marc St. Louis, a concert tour manager and live show production specialist, in 1986. They have one son Cameron. Her nickname is "Babyfingers," a reference to her small hands. In 2005, Rushen received an Honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Berklee College of Music.
AwardsASCAP Songwriter's Award, 1988USC Black Student Assembly, Legacy of Excellence Award, 1992Crystal Award, American Women in Film, 1994ASCAP Award, Most Performed Song in Motion Pictures for 1997 for "Men in Black," 1998