16″ x 20″ Signed Sept. 16, 1997 at Borders, World Trade Center, New York, NY
Born in Nashville Tennessee, Rita Coolidge was the daughter of a minister of a small church outside of Lafayette. The church choir would be Rita’s basic training for singing and performing.
Her first “group” was called ‘the Coolidge Sisters, with siblings Pricilla and Linda. They won local and state fair talent contests before going their separate ways. Rita went to Florida State University to persue a degree in art.
While still in school, Rita used her musical talent to pay her way, singing comercial jingles for a Memphis production company. From that, she recorded her first single, called “Turn Around and Love You” for Pepper Records.
When Southern rockers, Leon Russell and Delaney and Bonnie heard Rita, they persuaded her to come to Los Angeles to sing back-up on their up-coming album. Surprisingly, Rita was well known in L.A. music circles, as “Turn Around and Love You” had been a regional hit there.
In 1969, Rita joined Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour. “It was a circus”, she would recall, “it was an incredible time. We were always moving, always traveling. There was no time for anything”. Rita though, was strong enough to handle the road and in a tribute, Leon Russell wrote a song about her called “Delta Lady”.
On November 9 1970, on the runway of Los Angeles Airport, while waiting to board a flight to Memphis, Rita met singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson. He was supposed to go to Nashville for a magazine interview, instead, he got off with Rita in Memphis and the two were married a short time later.
Now Rita had even more resources on her side, and in 1971, signed with A&M Records and began cutting a series of moderatly selling albums. On them, she did everthing from gospel to pop to R&B, and found her true strength was in balads.
In May of 1977, Rita was five months pregnant. “I was really taking care of myself, watching my diet, sleeping right and was in excellent health. My baby was alive and kicking. I heard the heartbeat and then, for some reason, no one knows why, it just stopped”.
Needing something to take her mind off of the grief, she threw herself into her next album. “Anytime…Anywhere”. “It became a very important project for me”, she later said. “I gave it all my energy, and wanted to make an ‘up’ album.”
Rita added some spice to the LP by adding some of her favourite oldies from the sixties. Among them was Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” which Rita slowed down to an almost sleepy style. The arrangement worked, and Rita wound up having one of the biggest hits of the year. It was her first platinum single and a hit in nearly every city in the world. Oddly, though, the song was banned in Singapore, where it was deemed “a drug song”.
Rita followed with a string of top 40 hits, starting with Boz Scaggs’, “We’re All Alone” and continuing with “The Way You Do The Things You Do”.
Sadly, her marriage to the man who’s love had lifted her higher and higher, did not last, but by that time, Rita was a star in her own right, and was not just Mrs. Kris Kristofferson.
Successful singles continued, including “I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love”, “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”, “Fool That I Am” and “All Time High,” from the James Bond movie Octopussy in 1983.
Today, Rita is still touring and although she hasn’t had a hit single for many years, has continued to record albums, including 1999’s “Thinkin’ About You”.