Rita Coolidge

The Cutting Room, New York City, June 23, 2016

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Photos by Ebet Roberts

Backed by four excellent musicians, Rita Coolidge showed up in a long sexy dress and treated The Cutting Room patrons with a cabaret-style evening of love songs, with styles ranging from Karen Carpenter to Allen Toussaint to Peggy Lee, plus one popular 18th-century tune sung in Cherokee (“Amazing Grace”).

Coolidge won two Grammys with former husband Kris Kristofferson (1974’s “From the Bottle to the Bottom,” and 1976’s “Lover Please”), but she’s had a number of hits on her own, and a long and illustrious career. Associated with Crosby Stills and Nash (especially Stills and Nash), Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Jim Gordon, etc., etc., Coolidge undoubtedly picked up influences from a wide spectrum of music in her 45-plus years in the business, and she’s put them all to good use since.

Highlights of the evening included a duet with drummer Lynn Coulter that Coolidge originally recorded with Kristofferson, “Loving Arms.” Coolidge and Coulter’s heartfelt and rich vocal delivery also benefited from one of several brief but excellent guitar solos which punctuated the evening.

She sang her entire new album, With Love, Rita Coolidge, with the same backup as on the CD: Coulter (drums), JT Thomas (keys), Randy Landas (bass) and John McDuffie (guitar), all of whom assisted on vocals, but if you just hear the album, you won’t get the stories behind the music that she shared, and that was half the fun.

—Suzanne Cadgène



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