Folk Alliance Announces Rita Coolidge as Keynote Speaker

Rita Coolidge Kansas City, MO ~ Two-time Grammy Award winner, author, visual artist and Native American activist Rita Coolidge will be a keynote speaker at the 27th annual Folk Alliance International Conference and Music Camp, February 18-22, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. Coolidge is joining a list of speakers that also includes Astronaut (and folk singer) Commander Chris Hadfield.

“We’re really honored that Rita will be joining us at Folk Alliance this year,” says Aengus Finnan, FAI Executive Director. “Her story, music, and passion to connect audiences with First Nation’s heritage is truly inspiring.”

Rita Coolidge earned a degree in Visual Arts from Florida State University and was on her way to becoming an art teacher when she decided to move to Memphis, Tennessee and give jingle singing a try. After taking that city by storm, she moved to Los Angeles where she became known as “The Delta Lady,” providing backup vocals for rock royalty including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills.

(Band Photo)In 1971, Rita was signed to A&M records and she went on to record more than a dozen solo albums, including the multi-platinum Anytime…Anywhere, which was home to an incredible four top 25 hits: “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”, “We’re All Alone”, “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, and “You.” She recorded three albums with former husband Kris Kristofferson and the pair won two Grammy Awards for their work together.

In the 1980s, Coolidge was one of the original “VJs” when the VH1 music channel was launched, making her not just a recognizable voice, but also a familiar face to millions of music fans around the US.

In the ’90s, as her place in popular music secured, Rita began devoting more time, energy and talent to other concerns. Inspired by her own heritage, she increased her involvement in projects that would benefit and call attention to Native American music, culture and issues. She joined the group Walela (Cherokee for “Hummingbird”) and in 2002, along with Robbie Robertson, performed as part of the internationally televised Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics.

Rita Coolidge has been honored with the “Lifetime of Musical Achievement” honor at the First Americans in the Arts Awards and is also the recipient of a “Native American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.” She currently lives in California and has begun exhibiting as a visual artist. Her autobiography is slated for release in the spring of 2015.

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