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Walela
"Walela"

© Worldly Triloka/Mercury

April 17 - 23, 2022

Year of Release: 1997
Rating:
  • Is Everybody Here
  • Cherokee River
  • Wash Your Spirit Clean
  • The Warrior
  • Muddy Road
  • Cherokee
  • Cherokee Morning Song
  • Wounded Knee
  • The Whipporwill
  • Circle Of Light
  • Earth Children
  • Amazing Grace
  • I'll Turn My Radio On

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    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
    If you've ever purchased a music album (whether it be either vinyl or CD), you may get an extra album or CD from the provider. This is most likely a "thank you" for purchasing that newest music addition to your collection. This was the case for this week's review. I don't remember exactly which CD it was that was purchased, but in looking at the "thank you" CD received, it featured singer Rita Coolidge. She, along with her sister Priscilla Coolidge, and Laura Satterfield (who was Priscilla's daughter), formed Walela. The self-titled CD would be their debut album, released in 1997. They released two studio albums, a live concert album, and a Best Of. The name Walela is the Cherokee word for hummingbird. Sadly, Priscilla Coolidge was involved in a murder-suicide in 2014, as she and her husband, Michael Seibert were in an argument, as Seibert shot Priscilla in the head, and would shoot himself afterwards. No exact birthdate was given for Priscilla, she was either 72 or 73, born in 1941. Read the article here.
    Laura Satterfield's info can be read here. She has only recorded one album, Dirty Velvet Lie, released in 2000.

    In the 1970s, Rita Coolidge was popular with hits like "(Your Love Is Lifting Me) Higher And Higher" (the Jackie Wilson remake), "We're All Alone" (written and performed by Boz Scaggs), "Superstar" (the song from Jesus Christ Superstar, which she performed with Joe Cocker on his Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour). I had her (great) album Anytime...Anywhere [1977] on vinyl, and as the word "great" in parenthesis shown, it had both the Jackie Wilson remake, and the Boz Scaggs song. The rest of the album is superior, and should be in your collection. (It was released on CD as a two-fer, with the follow-up album, Love Me Again. [1978].) In 1992, she sang with Roger Waters on the title track of his album, Amused To Deat.

    She has recorded many studio albums throughout her career, which has spanned over 40 years. In her early years, she had worked with many rockers, as a background singer. She was discovered by Delaney and Bonnie. She sang with others, such as Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Harry Chapin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills. Her romance liasons with Graham Nash and Stephen Stills, where she would leave Stills for Nash contributed into the breakup of Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1970. (She was named "the sweet little Indian Girl" named "Raven" in David Crosby's song, "Cowboy Movie" From his debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name [1970].) she was also named "Delta Lady", written by Leon Russell, and made popular by Joe cocker.

    She was married to Kris Kristofferson, and together they recorded albums together. (Their Full Moon release reached #1 [Country].) They had one child, Casey (who is also a musician; Visit her website here). Their marriage fell apart after Rita's miscarriage for a second child, and Kris' infidelity and alcoholism. Kris and Rita were married for seven years. They divorced in 1980. Rita remarried for a second time, to Tatsuya Suda, a world leader in computer architecture research, in 2004, But in 2014, allegations of professional misconduct would surface. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of receiving illegal payments. Rita divorced him in 2012. In 2017, she rekindled a romantic relationship with Joe Hutto, a former college boyfriend. They were married in 2018.

    As Walela, they were part of Robbie Robertson (from The Band) and the Red Road Ensemble's album Music for The Native Americans. In 1997, they released their first (self-titled) album. Coolidge considered Walela important, as not only in honoring her Cherokee ancestors, but also in bringing their culture to others. As Walela, they were known for their distinctive vocal blend brings. Their 1997 debut release 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".

    It is true of their "distinctive vocal blend." The album opens with a 30-second accapella, "Is Everybody Here." Beautiful vocals, as it keeps continuing, with "Cherokee River" and "Wash Your Spirit Clean." You can easily hear the indian culture.

    "The Warrior" proves to be a standout - It is just a beautifully crafted song, and soulful, fitting the Pop (and possibly R&B) genre(s) at the time. After learning this song took home the Nanny award for Song of the Year, it's amazing how this song didn't get as popular, here in the U.S. The next track, "Muddy Road" also has the feel of "The Warrior" -- soulful, and very impressive. Likewise, the indian culture sound is heard throughout.

    The vocals on "Cherokee" are just simply beautiful, just pure, and soulful. The indian culture sound returns -- "Cherokee Morning Song" and (most definitely) on "Wounded Knee" (a common Indian name), and "The Whipporwill." More beautiful vocals are heard on "Circle Of Light," and "Earth Children" (accapella). The classic "Amazing Grace" brings Walela to their own style - both with beautiful vocals, and their indian culture sound. "I'll Turn My Radio On" starts out as a "true Indian vocals"; a little off-key, but then the beautiful vocals of Walela takes over, in accapella form.

    Definitely a breath of fresh air - Walela's self-titled debut brings great musical sounds, with their culture, beautifully blended vocals, and soulfulness. This album is just beautiful. For some, this cultured music could (or would) be called "World Music."

    It's just sad to learn of Priscilla Coolidge's passing. Rita Coolidge has always been a great vocalist, with 40+ years of music by herself, and with Kris Kristofferson. Priscilla's daughter Laura has only one album. I'm curious to hear more of Walela, more of Rita's music, and Laura Satterfield's only one album. The self-titled Walela is worth checking out, for great beautiful cultured music.




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