Walela - Biography
By J Poet
On February 9th, 2002, Walela – the trio of Rita Coolidge, Pricilla Coolidgeand Laura Satterfield – sang for their biggest audience, an estimated fourbillion people world wide, at the opening ceremonies of the Salt Lake CityWinter Olympic Games. The Olympic Committee had asked Utah’s five Nativetribes - Ute, Navajo, Paiute, Goshute and Shoshone to host a ceremony tocelebrate Native Culture for the games and Walela was there, along withhundreds of representatives of North America’s many Indian Nations.
For Walela, the Olympic performance was a magical moment, but as moving asit was, it was just another step on a long musical journey. They firstrecorded as a trio on one of Rita's albums. Robbie Robertson heard it andasked them to sing on the sessions for Music for The Native Americans (1995Capital) the soundtrack of the Turner Networks documentary The NativeAmericans. Walela’s eponymous debut, produced by Jim Wilson, in 1997 for
Triloka mixed Native, pop, and new age impulses for its uplifting message.Unbearable Love (2000 Triloka) was a Native Gospel album, a natural categorygiven the background of the Coolidge Family. The Coolidge family’s Fatherwas a preacher, and spiritual leader who saw no conflict between traditionalways and the Christianity. Unbearable Love won a Nammy for Best Recording bya Duo or a Group at the 2001 Native American Music Awards. Walela hadalready won the Best New Artist Award at the 1998 Nammys.
Rita Coolidge started singing professionally in college first appeared onrecord on with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends on Accept No Substitute 1969Elektra). In the early 70s Coolidge signed to A&M Records and became a starin her own right with a powerful sound that mixed the best parts of Gospel,pop and country music. In the mid 70s Coolidge met and married countrysongwriter Kris Kristofferson, and their careers - both as a duo andindividually - reached new heights. Coolidge amassed an armload of gold andplatinum albums and singles, as well as two Grammys for best country duetthat she shared with Kristofferson for “From the Bottle to the Bottom”in1973 and “Lover Please” in 1975.
Pricilla Coolidge was married to Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and the MGsand made several albums with him in the early 70s. Laura Satterfield is asongwriter and musician who has collaborated with many Native and mainstreamartists, most notably Robert Mirabal. Walela released Live in Concert as analbum (2004 Rich Heap Films) and DVD (2004 Rich Heap Films). In 2007 theywere at work on a new studio album.