- Bonnie Raitt
Infobox musical artist
Name = Bonnie Raitt
Img_capt = Bonnie Raitt performing live in 2007
Landscape = Yes
Background = solo_singer
Born = birth date and age|1949|11|8
Instrument = Vocals,
guitar, slide guitar
Blues, blues-rock, country
Singer-songwriter, musician, political activist, philanthropist
Years_active = 1971–present
Label = Warner, Capitol
URL = [http://www.bonnieraitt.com/ bonnieraitt.com]
Bonnie Lynn Raitt (born
November 8, 1949) is an American blues singer-songwriterwho was born in Burbank, California. Raitt is best known for her songs "Nick of Time," " Something to Talk About," and the ballad " I Can't Make You Love Me." Raitt is also an avid political activist and has been received nine Grammy Awardsin her career.
Raitt, the daughter of Broadway musical star
John Raitt, began playing guitar at an early age, something not a lot of her high school girlfriends did. Later she would become famous for her bottleneck-style guitar playing. "I had played a little at school and at camp," she later recalled in a July 2002 interview. :My parents would drag me out to perform for my family, like all parents do, but it was a hobby—nothing more... I think people must wonder how a white girl like me became a blues guitarist. The truth is, I never intended to do this for a living. I grew up... in a Quakerfamily, and for me being Quaker was a political calling rather than a religious one.Early in her career, while living in one of the West Hollywood apartment complexes directly behind Cherokee Studios, Bonnie used to pick up back up singing recording gigs with music producers Bruce Robb (producer)and Steve Cropper. As Cherokee's owner Bruce Robb recalls, "Bonnie became somewhat of a fixture around Cherokee, hanging out on the back steps when she was in need of work. Cropper and I would pull her in to sing on stuff and give her a couple hundred bucks. She already had the awe of us on the 'music' side of the industry. It was the suits who took a little longer to figure out that she was a star."
In 1967, Raitt entered
Harvard's Radcliffe Collegeas a freshman, majoring in African Studies. "My plan was to travel to Tanzania, where President Julius Nyererewas creating a government based on democracyand socialism," Raitt recalled. "I wanted to help undo the damage that Western colonialism had done to native cultures around the world. Cambridge was a hotbed of this kind of thinking, and I was thrilled."
One day, Raitt was notified by a friend that blues promoter
Dick Watermanwas giving an interview at WHRB, Harvard's college radio station. An important figure in the blues revival of the 1960s, Waterman was also a resident of Cambridge. Raitt went to see Waterman, and the two soon became friends, "much to the chagrin of my parents, who didn't expect their freshman daughter to be running around with 65-year-old bluesmen," recalled Raitt. "I was amazed by his passion for the music and the integrity with which he managed the musicians."
During Raitt's sophomore year, Waterman relocated to
Philadelphia, and a number of local musicians he counted among his friends went with him. Raitt had become a strong part of that community, recalling that "these people had become my friends, my mentors, and though I had every intention of graduating, I decided to take the semester off and move to Philadelphia...It was an opportunity that young white girls just don't get, and as it turns out, an opportunity that changed everything."
By now, Raitt was also playing folk and
rhythm and bluesclubs in the Bostonarea, performing alongside established blues legends like Howlin' Wolf, Sippie Wallace, and Mississippi Fred McDowell, all of whom she met through Waterman.
igning with Warner Bros.
In the fall of 1970, while opening for
Fred McDowellat the Gaslight Cafein New York, she was seen by a reporter from " Newsweek" Magazine, who began to spread word of her performance. Scouts from major record companies were soon attending her shows to watch her play. She eventually accepted an offer with Warner Bros.who soon released her eponymous debut album, "Bonnie Raitt", in 1971. The album was warmly received by the music press, many of whom praised her skills as an interpreter and as a bottleneck guitarist; at the time, very few women in popular music had strong reputations as guitarists.
While admired by those who saw her perform, and respected by her peers, Raitt gained little public acclaim for her work. Her critical stature continued to grow but record sales remained modest. Her second album, "Give It Up", was released in 1972 to universal acclaim, and though many critics still regard it as her best work, it did not change her commercial fortunes. 1973's "
Takin' My Time" was also met with critical acclaim, but these notices were not matched by the sales.
Raitt was beginning to receive greater press coverage, including a 1975 cover story for "
Rolling Stone Magazine", but with 1974's "Streetlights", reviews for her work were becoming increasingly mixed. By now, Raitt was already experimenting with different producers and different styles, and she began to adopt a more mainstream sound that continued through 1975's " Home Plate".
In 1976, Raitt made an appearance on
Warren Zevon's self-titled album with Warren Zevon's friend Jackson Browneand Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckinghamand Stevie Nicks.
Achieving commercial success
Sweet Forgiveness" gave Raitt her first commercial breakthrough when it yielded a hit single in her cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway." Recast as a heavy R&B recording based on a rhythmic groove inspired by Al Green, Raitt's version of "Runaway" was disparaged by many critics, but its commercial success prompted a bidding war between Warner Bros.and Columbia Records. "There was this big Columbia – Warner war going on at the time," recalled Raitt in a 1990 interview. " James Taylorhad just left Warner Bros. and made a big album for Columbia...And then, Warner signed Paul Simonaway from Columbia, and they didn't want me to have a hit record for Columbia — no matter what! So, I renegotiated my contract, and they basically matched Columbia's offer. Frankly the deal was a really big deal."
Warner Bros. held higher expectations for Raitt's next album, 1979's "
The Glow", but it was released to poor reviews as well as modest sales. Raitt would have one commercial success in 1979 when she helped organize the five MUSE ( Musicians United for Safe Energy) concerts at Madison Square Garden. The shows spawned a three-record gold album as well as a Warner Bros. feature film, "No Nukes". The shows featured co-founders Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, John Hall, and Raitt as well as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, and numerous others.
For her next record, 1982's "Green Light", Raitt made a conscious attempt to revisit the sound of her earlier records, but to her surprise, many of her peers and members of the press would compare her new sound to the burgeoning New Wave movement. The album received her strongest reviews in years, but her sales did not improve and this would have a severe impact on her relationship with Warner Bros.
Drop from Warner Bros.
In 1983, as Raitt was finishing work on her follow-up album, titled "Tongue & Groove", Warner Bros. cleaned house, dropping a number of major artists from their roster.
Van Morrisonand Arlo Guthriewere two of the most high-profile cases, and the day after mastering was completed on "Tongue & Groove", Raitt was notified that she was to be dropped too. The album was shelved indefinitely, and Raitt was left without a label. By now, Raitt was also struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.
Despite her personal and professional problems, Raitt continued to tour and participate in political activism. In 1985, she sang and appeared in the video of "Sun City", the anti-
apartheidrecord written and produced by Steven Van Zandt. Along with her participation in Farm Aidand Amnesty Internationalconcerts, Raitt would later travel to Moscowin 1987 as part of the first joint Soviet/American Peace Concert later shown on Showtime television. Also in 1987, Raitt would organize a benefit in Los Angeles, for Countdown '87 to Stop ContraAid, featuring herself, Don Henley, Herbie Hancock, Holly Nearand others.
"Tongue and Groove's" name change and release
Two years after dropping her from their label, Warner Bros. notified Raitt of their plans to release "Tongue & Groove". "I said it wasn't really fair," recalled Raitt. "I think at this point they felt kind of bad. I mean, I was out there touring on my savings to keep my name up, and my ability to draw was less and less. So they agreed to let me go in and recut half of it, and that's when it came out as "Nine Lives"." A critical and commercial disappointment, 1986's "Nine Lives" would be Raitt's last new recording for Warner Bros.
In late 1987, she joined
k.d. langand Jennifer Warnesas female background vocals for Roy Orbison's television special, " Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night". Following this highly acclaimed broadcast, she began working on new material. By now, Raitt was clean and sober, having broken her substance abuse — for which she would credit Stevie Ray Vaughanin a Minnesota State Fair concert [http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:f3dDbLQXxDgJ:www.startribune.com/457/v-print/story/38243.html+site:.startribune.com+minnesota+%22state+fair%22+1990+%22bonnie+raitt%22&hl=en&strip=1 ref] , [http://www.startribune.com/457/v-print/story/38243.html ref] the night after Vaughan's 1990 death. During this time, Raitt considered signing with Prince's own label, Paisley Park, but negotiations would ultimately fall through. Instead she began recording a bluesy mix of pop and rock under the production guidance of Don Wasat Capitol Records.
Raitt had met Was through
Hal Wilner, who was putting together "Stay Awake", a tribute album to Disney music for A&M. Was and Wilner both wanted Raitt to sing lead on an adult-contemporary arrangement created by Was for "Baby Mine," the lullaby from " Dumbo". Raitt was very pleased with the sessions, and she asked Don to produce her next album.
Peak commercial success
After more than twenty off and on years, recording popular music, Bonnie Raitt achieved belated commercial success with her 10th album, "Nick of Time". Released in 1989, "Nick of Time" went to the top of the U.S. charts, her first of two No 1 albums, and won three
Grammy Awards. At the same time, she walked away with a fourth Grammy Award for her duet "In the Mood" with John Lee Hookeron his album "The Healer".
She followed up this success with three more Grammy Awards for her 1991 album, "Luck of the Draw". Three years later, in 1994, she added two more Grammys with her album "
Longing in Their Hearts", her second no. 1 album. Both of these albums were multi-platinum successes. Raitt's collaboration with Was would amicably come to an end with 1995's live release, " Road Tested". Released to solid reviews, it sold well enough to be certified gold.
For her next studio album, Raitt hired
Mitchell Froomand Tchad Blakeas her producers. "I loved working with Don Wasbut I wanted to give myself and my fans a stretch and do something different," Raitt said. Her work with Froom and Blake was released on "Fundamental" in 1998.
In March 2000, Raitt was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Silver Lining" was released in 2002 while " Souls Alike" was released in September 2005.
Australian Country Music Artist Graeme Connors has said, "Bonnie Raitt does something with a lyric no one else can do; she bends it and twists it right into your heart." (ABC Radio NSW Australia interview with Interviewer Chris Coleman on 18 January 2007) [ [http://www.abc.net.au/nsw/stories/s2137964.htm?nsw Summer Conversations January 2008. 14 Jan 2008. ABC New South Wales. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ] ]
Raitt appeared on the June 7, 2008 broadcast of
Garrison Keillor's radio program " A Prairie Home Companion." She performed two blues songs with Kevin " Keb' Mo'" Moore: "No Getting Over You" and "There Ain't Nothin' in Ramblin'." Raitt also sang "Dimming of the Day" with Richard Thompson. The show is archived on the Prairie Home Companion web site.
Raitt's web site urges fans to learn more about preserving the environment. She was a founding member of
Musicians United for Safe Energy.
In 1994 at the urging of
Dick WatermanRaitt funded the replacement of a headstone for one of her mentors, Fred McDowellthrough the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund. Raitt would later finance memorial headstones in Mississippi for Memphis Minnie, Sam Chatmon, and Tommy Johnson through the Mt. Zion Fund.
Bonnie Raitt is a staunch political leftist. In July 2004, she drew thunderous applause at the
Stockholm Jazz Festivalfor dedicating a classic to sitting (and later re-elected) U.S. President George W. Bush. She was quoted as saying, "We're gonna sing this for George Bush because he's out of here, people!" before she launched into the opening licks of "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)," a cover that was featured on her 1979 album " The Glow". In 2002, she signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and free lessons to children in public schools throughout the U.S.A. She has visited children in the program and sits on the organization's board of directors as an honorary member.
Raitt worked with Reverb, a non-profit environmental organization, for her 2005 Fall/Winter and 2006 Spring/Summer/Fall tours. [http://www.reverbrock.org/site/]
Raitt is part of the
No Nukes groupwhich is against the expansion of nuclear power. In 2007 the group recorded a music videoof a new version of the Buffalo Springfieldsong " For What It's Worth". [ [http://www.nukefree.org/node/96 “For What It’s Worth,” No Nukes Reunite After Thirty Years] ] [ [http://www.nirs.org/home.htm Musicians Act to Stop New Atomic Reactors] ]
During the 2008 Democratic primary campaign Raitt, along with
Jackson Browne, performed at campaign appearances for candidate John Edwards.
Raitt and actor
Michael O'Keefemarried on April 27, 1991, (The Associated Press says they were married on April 28, 1991) and announced their divorce on November 9, 1999.
Bonnie Raitt discography"
* [http://www.bonnieraitt.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.soulsalike.nl/ Bonnie's Pride]
*imdb name|id=0707248|name=Bonnie Raitt
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