Macon County Chronicle

State of TN and Macon County to Honor Lafayette-Native Rita Coolidge With “Tennessee Music Pathways” Marker

Rita Coolidge

Lafayette native, Rita Coolidge, one of the most influential female singers and songwriters of her generation will be honored by the State of Tennessee and Macon County with the installation of a “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker.

The event will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. at Macon Bank & Trust (109 Public Square) in Lafayette. 

In a career that spans five decades and dozens of recordings as a solo artist and in collaboration with some of the 20th century’s greatest musicians, Lafayette native Rita Coolidge is one of the most influential female singers and songwriters of her generation.

Born in Nashville May 1, 1945, she is the daughter of Dick Coolidge, an ordained Baptist minister of Cherokee ancestry and Charlotte Coolidge, a Cherokee Scot and schoolteacher who sang and taught music. 

Moving to Memphis in 1967, she recorded advertising jingles and her first songs, scoring a regional hit with “Turn Around and Love You,” and was a fixture on the city’s vibrant music scene. When the duo Delaney & Bonnie came to Memphis to record their first album, she was encouraged by their pianist, Leon Russell, to move with him and the band to Los Angeles. 

Relocating to the West Coast in 1968, Coolidge became an n-demand background vocalist and arranger, singing on Eric Clapton’s 1970 hit “After Midnight,” Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” and “Delta Lady,” the song Russell wrote in her honor. 

In Memphis to rehearse her first tour, she met singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson. They married in 1973, recorded three albums together and earned two Grammy Awards. In 1974, their daughter Casey was born. 

Throughout her career, Coolidge fervently championed the power and purpose of music – to inspire, to challenge and especially to comfort. 

Launched by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in 2018, Tennessee Music Pathways is an online planning guide that connects visitors to the state’s rich musical heritage at tnmusicpathways.com. From the largest cities to the smallest communities, Tennessee Music Pathways stretches across all 95 counties and features hundreds of landmarks from the seven genres of music that call Tennessee home.