Who Is Rita Coolidge?
Throughout her career, Rita Coolidge has sung in various musical genres, including folk, country, R&B, pop, rock and jazz. The former backup vocalist and two-time Grammy Award winner broke through with her 1977 solo album Anytime ... Anywhere. Hits include the 1983 tune "All Time High," the theme song from the James Bond movie Octopussy.
Rita Coolidge was born on May 1, 1944, in Lafayette, Tennessee, near Nashville. Coolidge and her two sisters, Priscilla and Linda, were all gifted singers. "Since my father and mother and grandmothers all sang, music was a natural part of our lives, just like sleeping and eating," Coolidge told Indian Artist magazine.
At age 15 she and her family moved to Florida. She later attended Florida State University to study art, and while there she formed a folk group called R.C. and the Moonpies. After graduation, she moved to Memphis and sang radio-station IDs and commercial jingles at a studio, Pepper Sound. She recorded her first album, Turn Around and Love You after studio executives noticed her talent. The album's title song did well regionally but did not make a splash nationally.
Soon after her move to Memphis, Coolidge met Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett and toured with them as their backup singer. She then relocated to Los Angeles and sang backup vocals for well-known musicians such as Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Dave Mason and Duane Allman, among others.
Her impressive talent landed her a solo contract with A&M Records. Coolidge released a self-titled album in 1971 to critical acclaim but poor sales. After marrying country singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, she recorded several albums with him. Together they won a Grammy for their hit "From the Bottle to the Bottom" for Best Country Vocal by a Duo or Group in 1974 as well as one for "Lover Please" in the same category two years later.
Songs and Albums
Coolidge broke through on her own with her 1977 album Anytime...Anywhere. She sang cover songs with R&B style and produced hits singing her renditions of Jackie Wilson's 1967 classic "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone" and The Temptations' "The Way You Do the Things You Do." The album went platinum.
Subsequent albums never met the success of Anytime...Anywhere, but Coolidge did continue to chart singles through the 1980s. She recorded the hit song "All Time High" as the theme for the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy. After this last hurrah, she retreated from the public eye.
Coolidge returned to the recording studio in the 1990s to release several more albums under various labels. She delved deeper into her Native American musical heritage by teaming up with family members Pricilla Coolidge and Laura Satterfield to sing Music for Native Americans, the soundtrack for TBS' Native Americans series, in the mid-1990s. The three ladies formed the singing group Walela (the Cherokee word for hummingbird), and together they recorded albums through 2000.
After a career in folk, country, R&B, rock and pop, Coolidge created her first jazz album, And So Is Love, in 2005. Her holiday album, A Rita Coolidge Christmas, was released in October 2012.
Coolidge has embraced her mixed heritage throughout her musical career. Her father was a full-blooded Cherokee, and her mother was half Cherokee and half Scottish. Coolidge was married to country singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson from 1973 to 1980. Together they had one daughter, Casey.
In October 2014, Coolidge's sister, Priscilla, was found dead in her home with her husband Michael Seibert, in what was determined a murder-suicide. (Seibert is considered to be the perpetrator.)
Since 2012 the singer has been married to Tatsuya Suda, a retired professor of computer science at the University of California at Irvine. In April 2016, Coolidge released her autobiography, Delta Lady: A Memoir.
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