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Group Members: Rita Coolidge
All Music Guide:
Pop singer/songwriter Rita Coolidge began her career all the way back in the early '70s, but during the '90s, she returned to her Native American roots in the eclectic vocal trio Walela, which also featured her sister and longtime collaborator Priscilla Coolidge and Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield. Walela's music drew not only on the trio's Cherokee heritage, but also on the gospel sounds of the Deep South (the Coolidges' father was a Baptist minister), plus pop, country, folk, soul, and a touch of new age reflectiveness. Walela made its recording debut backing ex-Band frontman Robbie Robertson on his 1994 project Music for the Native Americans; the group went on to perform at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The trio issued its first album, a self-titled affair, in 1997 to good reviews. The follow-up, Unbearable Love, was released in early 2000.
Walela is a Native American trio of singers. The group was founded in 1996 by sisters Rita Coolidge and Priscilla Coolidge, with Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield as the third member.
Featured as part of Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble's album Music for The Native Americans, their distinctive vocal blend brings to life "The Cherokee Morning Song" and has allowed them to tour to an international audience. During the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Walela had the opportunity to represent their nations—both Cherokee and the United States—as they performed extensively in the Olympic Park. Their 1997 debut release on Capitol Records earned them the recognition of the Nammy Awards (Native American Music Awards) where they took home the award for Debut Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for "The Warrior".