Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945, in Lafayette, Tennessee) is a mulitiple Grammy Award winning American vocalist. Scoring hits in the Pop, Country, Adult Contemporary and Jazz charts. She is of Scottish and Cherokee Native American ancestry.
She graduated from Andrew Jackson Senior High in Jacksonville, Florida in 1963. After high school, she attended Florida State University, where she earned a B.A.
Coolidge married Kris Kristofferson in 1973; they divorced in 1980. They have one daughter, Casey. Coolidge previously had romantic liaisons with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash; her leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. David Crosby memorialized this situation in his song "Cowboy Movie" (from the album If I Could Only Remember My Name, 1971); Coolidge is the "sweet little Indian girl" of the song. Stills has referenced his relationship with Coolidge in his work as well; he refers to her by the nickname "the Raven" in his song "Sit Yourself Down" (Stephen Stills, 1970) and similarly named one side of his first album with Manassas (Manassas, 1972) in her honor.
She now lives in Fallbrook, a small town in southern California.
She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
Coolidge began her career as a backing vocalist for artists such as Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, and Leon Russell.
Her first single was recorded in 1968, after she was discovered by former Elvis Presley Chief Personal Aide and close friend, Marty Lacker, who started a record company, Pepper Records, for a major Memphis bartering company. Lacker produced a few records for Coolidge; one, "Turn Around And Love You", became a regional hit in Los Angeles and the West Coast. She then worked with Leon Russell and both became members of Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Her performance of "Superstar" on the Cocker/Russell Mad Dogs and Englishmen album helped her gain attention.
The Delta Lady
She became known as "The Delta Lady" and inspired Leon Russell to write a song of the same name for her. It was during this time that she met Kris Kristofferson, and the two married in 1973. With him, she recorded several duet albums which sold well, and earned them a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1974 for From the Bottle to the Bottom, and in 1976 for Lover Please.
Rita Coolidge began her solo career as a highly in demand session vocalist, and proceeded to transition her career into the solo field. In 1977, Coolidge scored what would be her most successful album of her career, the platinum certifed Anytime...Anywhere. The album spawned many hit singles. Her first hit was "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher," a cover of the Jackie Wilson song. Wilson's version only reached No. 6 on the Billboard charts. The Coolidge single became one of her best sellers, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1977 and also a world wide hit. She followed that success with another gold certified single "We're All Alone" which reached No. 7 later that year on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and No. 1 on the Cashbox chart.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's she scored other hits with "One Fine Day" (written by Carole King and a hit for the 1960s girl group the Chiffons, "Words" (The Bee Gees), "I Don't Want to Talk About It" (written by Danny Whitten), "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (The Temptations), "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" (Carole Bayer Sager), and "You." In 1980 Coolidge also was the voice of Melissa Raccoon in the Christmas Raccoons, and reprised this role for a subsequent special The Raccoons on Ice in 1981. Both of these specials served as a predecessor to the critically-acclaimed Canadian animated series, The Raccoons.
In the mid 1980's, Coolidge found success vocalizing on a couple of movie soundtracks. In 1983, she recorded the song "All Time High" for the James Bond film Octopussy. The single was a smash and one of two No. 1 hits and on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts. Another movie song, although not a hit, was the love theme from the movie Splash, entitled "Love Came For Me."
In 1991 she recorded 2 Japanese pop songs, "Ame" (Rain) by Chisato Moritaka and "Rainy Blue" by Hideaki Tokunaga.
In 2004, Coolidge released an anthology of her complete career, entitled Delta Lady ? The Rita Coolidge Anthology.
In 2006, Coolidge released a jazz CD, And So Is Love. That same year, she toured the United Kingdom on the "Once in a Lifetime Country Tour" with Don Williams and Kenny Rogers.
In 1997, Coolidge was one of the founding members of Walela, a Native American music trio, that also includes Coolidge's sister Priscilla and Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield. The trio released studio albums in 1997 (Walela) and 2000 (Unbearable Love), a live album and DVD (Live in Concert) in 2004 and a compilation album (The Best of Walela) in 2007. Walela means hummingbird in Cherokee.