Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945, in Lafayette, Tennessee) is a Grammy Award winning American singer. She is of Scottish and Cherokee Native American ancestry.
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.
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.
She had several solo hit singles during the late 1970s with cover versions. Her first hit, "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher," a cover of the Jackie Wilson song, was also her best seller, reaching number two on the U.S. charts in 1977. She followed that with Boz Scaggs's "We're All Alone" which reached number seven later that year. In 1991 she covered 2 Japanese pop songs, "Ame" (Rain) by Chisato Moritaka and "Rainy Blue" by Hideaki Tokunaga.
Other hits were "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 2004, Coolidge released an anthology of her complete career, entitled Delta Lady — The Rita Coolidge Anthology.
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.