Rita's credentials are the stuff of legend. After earning a degree in art at Florida State University, the Tennessee native decided to give music a shot before settling into a career as an art teacher. She moved to Memphis and was soon singing jingles, demos and background vocals for a number of area bands. Among them was a husband and wife duo, Delaney & Bonnie. When the pair signed their record deal, Rita suddenly found herself on big-time pop music's leading edge. Her reputation as an A-list backup singer spread quickly. Joe Cocker enlisted her in that role and as a featured soloist on his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. (Rita performed a song she'd co-written, ?Superstar,? which would later be a huge hit for The Carpenters.) Work with other rock royalty followed, including tours and recordings with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell and Stephen Stills. In 1971, A&M Records moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss signed her to the label, and one of the most enduring solo careers in all of music was underway. Rita Coolidge's impact is undiminished--her voice as pure, sweet and powerful as ever and her ability to get inside a song honed by experience and overview. "I guess the fact that I'm still here means I must be doing something right," she laughs. "It's good to know that people who've liked what I do for all these years still like what I do, and at the same time it sounds good to people who weren't even born when I started out."