Published on March 2, 2013 by Casey
Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945) is a multiple Grammy Award-winning American vocalist. During the 1970s and 1980s, she charted hits on Billboard’s pop, country, adult contemporary and jazz charts.
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Coolidge was born in Lafayette, Tennessee. She is of Scottish and Cherokee ancestry.
Coolidge is a graduate of Florida State University. She became known as “The Delta Lady” and inspired Leon Russell to write a song of the same name for her.
In November 1970, she met Kris Kristofferson at the Los Angeles airport when they were both catching the same flight to Tennessee and he got off in Memphis with her rather than go on to his originally intended stop in Nashville; the two married in 1973. With him, she recorded several duet albums which sold well, and earned the duo 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”.
Coolidge’s greatest success on the pop charts came during 1977-1978 with four consecutive top 25 hits. The list consisted of covers of Jackie Wilson’s “(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”, followed by “You”.
Willie Nelson references her in Devil in a Sleepin’ Bag on Shotgun Willie thus:
Just got back from New York City
Kris (Kristofferson) and Rita (Coolidge) done it all
Bought perfection there for all the world to see
Lord, I heard an angel singing in that Philharmonic Hall
Rita Coolidge, Rita Coolidge, cleft for me
Coolidge married Tatsuya Suda (mistakenly referred to as “Sudaon” by the Chicago Tribune) on June 19, 2012 in the Cook Islands. Coolidge was married to Kris Kristofferson from 1973–1980. 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 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. She was also involved with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker during their days on tour with Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Coolidge now lives in Fallbrook, California. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.