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Coolidge joins Cherokee choirs on new CD

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Two-time Grammy Award winner Rita Coolidge joined with the voices of three generations of Cherokees for a soon to be released CD, a compilation of Cherokee gospel songs.

Coolidge attended the Cherokee Nation's history course while in Tahlequah, something which has pleased Chief Chad Smith.

"Ever since I saw her in a concert when I was in college, I've always been a huge Rita Coolidge fan," Smith said. "We're very grateful that she could spend a week with us and sing with the choir."

Coolidge had praise for Smith and the Cherokee Nation as well. "I don't think there are words that can speak from my heart what I've experienced this week. When I spoke to Chad and he invited me to come to the history lesson and to sing with the choir he said, 'I feel like it will change your life,' and it has."

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Coolidge was able to shed being a celebrity for a while as she spent time in the Cherokee capital. "It's not about being a celebrity, or being somebody, it's about what is in my heart and what I feel. It's about singing music with my people. It's the best thing that could happen."

This is high praise from the woman who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Native American Music Awards last fall. Coming home to sing with the Cherokee National Choir is a project Smith and Coolidge have been talking about, since before the choir was formed.

"We talked about a children's choir and about starting one and developing it," Coolidge said. "Chad asked me if I might want to sing with the group and now it's come to fruition. The blessing is mine."

Coolidge will sing four songs on the CD. "Some of the songs are with the adult choir. Some with the children's choir, some with both," she said. "The end result is that it's great."