″…one of the most versatile singers of the rock generation…″
Rita’s credentials are the stuff of legend. After earning a degree in art at Florida State University, the Tennessee native decided to give music a shot before settling into a career as an art teacher. She moved to Memphis and was soon singing jingles, demos and background vocals for a number of area bands. Among them was a husband and wife duo, Delaney & Bonnie. When the pair signed their record deal, Rita suddenly found herself on big-time pop music’s leading edge. Her reputation as an A-list backup singer spread quickly. Joe Cocker enlisted her in that role and as a featured soloist on his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. (Rita performed a song she’d co-written, ″Superstar,″ which would later be a huge hit for The Carpenters.) Work with other rock royalty followed, including tours and recordings with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell and Stephen Stills. In 1971, A&M Records moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss signed her to the label, and one of the most enduring solo careers in all of music was underway.
Rita released more than a dozen albums in the years to follow, including 1978’s multi-platinum Anytime… Anywhere. Several of her singles would become classics; ″We’re All Alone,″ ″Higher And Higher″ and ″The Way You Do The Things You Do″ all qualify as ″career″ songs. She’s performed with high-profile pals like George Harrison, Roger Waters, Robbie Robertson and Jimmy Buffett. In 1973, Rita married singer, songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson. During their eight-year union the pair teamed up for a number of hits and was twice named Country Duo of the Year. Her ″Love Came For Me″ appeared on the soundtrack of the movie Splash, ″All Time High″ was the theme for the James Bond thriller Octopussy and ″Heart Don’t Fail Me Now″ (with Lee Greenwood) was used as a recurring theme for the CBS daytime drama As The World Turns. When the cable music channel VH1 debuted, she was also one of its original ″veejays.″
In the 90s, her place in popular music secured, Rita began devoting more time, energy and talent to other concerns. Her own Cherokee heritage inspired increasing involvement in projects that would benefit or call attention to Native American music, culture and issues. She joined the group Walela (Cherokee for ″Hummingbird″) a few years ago with her sister, Priscilla Coolidge and niece, Laura Satterfield. Critics and listeners alike have embraced the trio, whose performances have included the internationally televised Opening Ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics along with Robbie Robertson, someone she cites as being sensitive to the musical void that exists for Native Americans. The connection between this style and her more ″mainstream″ music, she feels, is a natural one. Rita was honored with a ″Lifetime of Musical Achievement″ award at the 2002 First Americans in the Arts Awards, as well as being the recipient of a ″Native American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.″
″Like most people of my generation, when I hear the term ‘soul’ or ‘R & B’, I’m thinking of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding…But any time the spirit is speaking through the music, that’s soul in a very pure sense of the word. I don’t know what to call the music most people know me for, really. I guess that’s one of the things I like most about it—it’s really impossible to categorize.
I want to hear music breathe. It has to have some open space; otherwise it’s just a compacted bunch of sound. I’m not a vocal gymnast, and I wouldn’t sing that way if I were. No matter how many notes you can make fit into a phrase, there’ll be a couple that really count. Those are the ones I want to sing. ″
Rita Coolidge’s impact is undiminished—her voice as pure, sweet and powerful as ever and her ability to get inside a song honed by experience and overview.
″ I guess the fact that I’m still here means I must be doing something right,” she laughs. “It’s good to know that people who’ve liked what I do for all these years still like what I do, and at the same time it sounds good to people who weren’t even born when I started out. And it’s especially satisfying because I’ve made a record that’s really true to the style of music I love. How can you ask for more than that?″
Inside The Fire
A&M Records 1984
Tracks: Hit Me On The Loveside, Do You Believe In Love, I Can’t Afford That Feeling Anymore, Games, Wishing Star, I’m Coming Home, Something Said Love, Love From Tokyo, Survivor & Love Is Muddy Water.
Musicians on the Inside The Fire album: Rita Coolidge, Steve Farris, Josh Leo, Rick Vito, Snuffy Walden, George Perry, Kurtis Teel, Vince Melamed, Bill Payne, Mike Utley, Chet McCracken, Thom Mooney, Paulinho Da Costa, Mitchell Froom, Albhy Galuten, Jimmy Zavala, Bonnie Bramlett, Judy Brown, CeCe Bullard, Carmen Grillo, Bernie Harris, Jo Ann Harris, David Lasley, Sherlie Matthews & Arnold McCuller.
Never Let You Go
A&M Records 1983
Tracks: I’ll Never Let You Go, Tempted, Stop Wasting Your Time, Shadow In The Night, Only You, You Do It, Fools In Love, Do You Really Wants To Hurt Me, You Ought To Be With Me & We’ve Got Tonite.
Musicians on the Never Let You Go album: Rita Coolidge, Rick Vito, Eric Williams, Kerry Hatch, Kurtis Teel, Michael Lewis, Mike Utley, Bernie Worrell, Tom Mooney, Victor Feldman, Marc Singer, Steve Allen, Harry Kim, Jermaine Jackson, Bonnie Bramlett, Judi Brown, Tamara Champlin, Carmen Grillo, Jo Ann Harris, David Lasley & Arnold McCuller.
A&M Records 1981
Tracks: Walk On In, One More Heartache, The Closer You Get, Wishin’ and Hopin’, Heartbreak Radio, Man And A Woman, I Did My Part Hold On (I Feel Our Love Is Changing), Basic Lady, Stranger To Me Now & Take It Home.
Musicians on the Heartbreak Radio album: Rita Coolidge, Andrew Gold, Dean Parks, Fred Tackett, Waddy Wachtel, Kenny Edwards, Bob Glaub, Bill Payne, Mike Utley, Michael Botts, Russ Kunkel, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Horn, Tom Saviano, Joel Peskin, Gordon Goodwin, James Gordon, Bill Green, Jerry Jumonville, Steve Madaio, Bruce Paulson, Lee Thornburg, David Campbell, Nick DeCaro, Margaret Branch, Paulette Brown, Rosemary Butler, Lenny Castro, Kenny Edwards, Venetta Fields, Cleopatra Kennedy, Nicolette Larson, Maureen McDonald, Sherlie Matthews, Petsye Powell, William “D” Smith, John David Souther & Brock Walsh.
A&M Records 1980
Tracks: Born Under A Bad Sign, We’re All Alone, Fool That I Am, Higher And Higher, Nice Feelin’, The Way You Do The Things You Do, I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love, Words, Only You Know And I Know, I Don’t Want To Talk About It, Fever & Am I Blue.
Musicians on the Greatest Hits album: Rita Coolidge, Ry Cooder, Clarence White, Marc Benno, Dean Parks, Jerry McGee, Fred Tackett, Booker T. Jones, Mike Utley, Spooner Oldham, Don Brooks, Lee Sklar, Dennis Belfield, Tommy McClure, Check Domanico, Chris Ethridge, Jim Keltner, Sammy Creason, Colin Bailey, Mike Baird, Bobbye Hall Porter, Venetta Fields, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews & Kim Carnes.
Beautiful Evening – Live In Japan
A&M Records 1980
Tracks: Higher & Higher (Your Love Has Lifted Me), Cheap Thrills, Shoo-Rah Shoo-Rah, Fool That I Am, Fever, Precious Precious, Footprints, Somethin’ Bout You Baby I Like, I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love, Don’t Cry Out Loud & One Fine Day.
Musicians on the Beautiful Evening – Live In Japan album: Rita Coolidge, Booker T. Jones, Michael Warren, Salvatore Guglielmi, Mike Utley, Richard Adelman, Phyllis Battell & Carlena Williams.
A&M Records 1979
Tracks: One Fine Day, The Fool In Me, Trust It All To Somebody, Let’s Go Dancin’, Pain Of Love, I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love, Sweet Emotion, Crime Of Passion & Can She Keep You Satisfied.
Musicians on the Satisfied album: Rita Coolidge, Stephen Bruton, Dean Parks, Fred Tackett, Dennis Belfield, Bob Glaub, Tommy McClure, Booker T. Jones, Mike Utley, Sammy Creason, Jim Keltner, Dorothy Ashby, Richie Cannata, Priscilla Coolidge-Jones, Donny Gerrard, Michael McDonald & John Seiter.
A&M Records 1978
Love Me Again
A&M Records 1978
Tracks: You 2 – Slow Dancer 3 – Sweet Inspiration 4 – Love Me Again 5 – It Just Keeps You Dancing 6 – Bye Bye Love 7 – The Jealous Kind 8 – Hello Love, Goodbye 9 – You’re So Fine 10 – Songbird.
Musicians on the Love Me Again album: Rita Coolidge, Stephen Bruton, Jay Graydon, Jerry McGee, Dennis Belfield, Booker T. Jones, Mike Utley, Michael Baird, Sammy Creason, Steve Forman, Jim Haas, Larry Lee, Julia Tillman Waters, Luther Waters, Oren Waters, Maxine Willard Waters & Cory Wells.
A&M Records 1977
Tracks: (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher 2 – The Way You Do The Things You Do 3 – We’re All Alone 4 – I Feel The Burden (Being Lifted On My Shoulders) 5 – I Don’t Want To Talk About It 6 – Words 7 – Good Times 8 – Who’s To Bless And Who’s To Blame 9 – Southern Lady 10 – The Hungry Years.
Musicians on the Anytime…Anywhere album: Rita Coolidge, Jerry McGhee, Dean Parks, Al Perkins, Lee Sklar, Booker T. Jones, Mike Utley, Michael Baird, Sammy Creason, Bobbye Hall, Gayle Levant, Nick DeCaro, Kim Carnes, Venetta Fields, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews & Daniel Timms.
It´s Only Love
A&M Records 1975
Tracks: Born To Love Me, I Wanted It All, Keep The Candle Burning, Don’t Let Love Pass You By, It’s Only Love, Star, Late Again, My Rock And Roll Man, Mean To Me & Am I Blue.
Musicians on the It´s Only Love album: Rita Coolidge, Sammy Creason, Colin Bailey, Jerry McGee, Dean Parks, Fred Tackett, Al Perkins, Lee Sklar, Chuck Domanico, Booker T. Jones, Bobby Hall, Mike Utley, Barbara Carroll, Venetta Fields, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, Brooks Hunnicutt & Jennifer Warnes.