Rita Coolidge Biography

1 May 1944, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, from mixed white and Cherokee Indian parentage. Coolidge’s father was a Baptist minister and she first sang radio jingles in Memphis with her sister Priscilla. Coolidge recorded briefly for local label Pepper before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-60s. There she became a highly regarded session singer, working with Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills and many others. She had a relationship with Stills and he wrote a number of songs about her including ‘Cherokee’, ‘The Raven’ and ‘Sugar Babe’. In 1969-70, Coolidge toured with the Delaney And Bonnie and Leon Russell (Mad Dogs & Englishmen) troupes. Russell’s ‘Delta Lady’ was supposedly inspired by Coolidge. Returning to Los Angeles, she was signed to a solo recording contract by A&M Records. Her debut album included the cream of LA session musicians (among them Booker T. Jones, by now her brother-in-law) and it was followed by almost annual releases during the 70s. Coolidge also made several albums with Kris Kristofferson, to whom she was married between 1973 and 1980. The quality of her work was uneven since the purity of her natural voice was not always matched by subtlety of interpretation. Her first hit singles were a revival of the Jackie Wilson hit ‘(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher’ and Boz Scaggs’ ‘We’re All Alone’, produced by Booker T. in 1977. The following year a version of the Temptations’ ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’ reached the Top 20. Coolidge was less active in the 80s, although in 1983 she recorded a James Bond movie theme, ‘All Time High’, from Octopussy. Her recent work, including 1997’s Walela project with Priscilla Coolidge and Laura Satterfield, has explored her Cherokee roots, while And So Is Lov e moved her into smooth jazz territory.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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