Coolidge was born on May 1, 1945 in Lafayette, Tennessee, the daughter of Raymond and Charlotte Coolidge, a minister and schoolteacher. She attended Nashville's Maplewood High School. She graduated from Andrew Jackson Senior High in Jacksonville,FL. She is a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She is of Scottish and Cherokee ancestry.

Coolidge was married to Kris Kristofferson from 1973 to 1980. They have one daughter, Casey. Coolidge previously had romantic liaisons with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash; her leaving Stills for Nash has been cited as a contributing factor behind the initial 1970 breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Rita Coolidge's Family Tree