"A Rita Coolidge Christmas" was held Saturday at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Although most of the concert featured holiday favorites and an assortment of the performer's top hits, there was a solemn part of the show which was a tribute to the 26 victims of the tragedy in Connecticut.
The finale of the show had Coolidge singing the doleful song "Amazing Grace" in her Cherokee tongue. As she sang the song, she wiped tears from her eyes. The audience sat in respected silence during the performance.
Coolidge, a two-time Grammy Award winner, spent an hour and 45 minutes on stage singing an assortment of songs - both Christmas songs and pop tunes - and telling stories about her career, her childhood, and her heritage.
Dressed in a black blues with red trim and an ankle-length black skirt, the "Delta Lady" opened the concert with her hit, "Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher."
She sang 21 songs, including "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," which was a curtain-call number.
Besides her own hits she sang songs that her ex-husband Kris Kristofferson wrote as well as music from pop star Peggy Lee.
Two of the highlights of the show involved drummer Lynn Coulter who showed phenomenal talent on percussion.
First, Coolidge sang "The Little Drummer Boy" with Coulter tapping a Native American beat in the background, giving a unique arrangement.
Then, Coulter joined Coolidge on stage and was very flirtatious as they enacted the Bing Crosby classic "Baby It's Cold Outside."
Coolidge was backed by a four-piece band, with all members nattily attired in suits with ties. She identified the band members as "my four producers."
She said she was the youngest of four children. Her family lived on a small farm in Northern Tennessee where it often snowed on Christmas.
A family tradition on Christmas eve was listening for Santa. When she would hear the "ho-ho-ho" and the jingling of bells, her mother would remind her it was time to go to sleep.
She said the first song she learned to hum, even before she could talk, was "White Christmas," and then proceeded to sing it.
Other Christmas songs in the repertoire included "Jingle Bell Rock," "Winter Wonderland," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Santa Baby," and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
Hit songs included "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and "How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved By You)."
At the conclusion, when she sang the Cherokee version of "Amazing Grace," she mentioned that the song was sung on the "Trail of Tears."
The Trail of Tears was the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation en route to their destinations. Many died, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee.
Coming next to Penn's Peak is Hollywood Nights with Special Guest Human Wheels on Friday, Dec. 28.
Hollywood Nights is the ultimate tribute to Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet band.
The upcoming concert schedule is as follows:
Ÿ 28 - Hollywood Nights with Special Guest Human Wheels, 8 p.m. Tickets $20 advance, $25 day of show.
Ÿ 12 - Dickey Betts & Great Southern with Scott Weis Band, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $27 advance, $32 day of show.
Ÿ 1 - Little River Band with Special Guest Fran Cosmo, 8 p.m. Tickets $27 reserved, $32 premium.
Ÿ 15 - The Pink Floyd Experience, 8 p.m. Tickets $30 and $35.
Ÿ 23 - Bruce in the USA, 8 p.m. Tickets $17 advance, $22 day of show.
Ÿ 9 - Queensrÿche with Bang Tango, 8 p.m. Tickets $30 advance, $35 day of show.
Ÿ 23 - Bobby Vinton, 8 p.m. Tickets $35 and $40.
Ÿ 19 - Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, 8 p.m. Tickets $22 advance, $27 day of show.
Ÿ 4 - Tanya Tucker, 8 p.m. Tickets $29 and $34.
Ÿ 27 Happy Together Tour 2013 - The Turtles with Flo & Eddie; Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night; Gary Puckett & the Union Gap; Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Gary Lewis & the Playboys, 8 p.m. Tickets $39 and $44.
Ÿ July 12 - 7 Bridges, The Ultimate Eagles Experience, 8 p.m. Tickets $17 advance, $22 day of show.
Ÿ 22 - "The Grand Tour" George Jones' Farewell Tour to his Fans, 8 p.m. Tickets $55 and $65.
Ÿ April 24 & 25 - RAGDOLL, A Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Doors open 11:30 a.m.; showtime 1 p.m.; lunch noon.
Ÿ May 1 & 2 - The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Doors open 11:30 a.m.; showtime 1 p.m.; lunch noon.
Ÿ May 7, 8, & 9 - Branson Fever - Country Roots Show, featuring Dave Rehrig of Twitty Fever, Harrold Ford of The Spirit of Johnny Cash and ClenRoy Geist as Crazy Elmer. Doors open 11:30 a.m., showtime 1 p.m., lunch noon.
Ÿ May 14, 15, & 16 - King Henry and the Showmen - One More for the Road, The Farewell Tour, doors open 11:30 a.m., showtime 1 p.m.; lunch noon.
Ÿ Sept. 17, 18 & 19 - The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. Doors open 11:30 a.m., showtime 1 p.m., lunch noon.
Ÿ Oct. 1, 2, and 3 - The Swing Dolls - A Tribute to the Andrews Sisters and the McGuire Sisters. Doors open 11:30 a.m., showtime 1 p.m., lunch noon.
Ÿ Oct. 15, 16, and 17 - King Henry and the Showmen - One More for the Road, The Farewell Tour. Doors open 11:30 a.m., showtime 1 p.m., lunch noon.
Ÿ Oct. 24 - Real Diamond. Doors open 11:30 a.m., showtime 1 p.m., lunch noon.