Bonnie Raitt is a famous American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She is known for encompassing various musical genres such as blues, folk, rhythm, blues, pop, as well as country rock in her works. Though most of her early albums didn’t perform well commercially, she eventually reached the peak of her career after the release of her album ‘Nick of Time’. The album was a huge success, peaking at the first position on the US Billboard 200, and also winning three Grammy Awards. It has been included in the book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’. Her next album ‘Luck of the Draw’ was also a huge success; it stood at the second position on the Billboard 200 and won three Grammy Awards. Raitt has received a total of ten Grammy Awards in her career so far. She has also been listed in Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘100 Greatest Singers of All Time’ at the 50th position as well as on the list of the ‘100 Greatest Guitarists’ at the 89th position. Other than music, Raitt is also known for her activism. She urges her fans to learn more about environment preservation and was also a founding member of the organization ‘Musicians United for Safe Energy’.
Childhood & Early Life
Bonnie Lynn Raitt was born on 8th November 1949 in Burbank, California. Her parents were John Raitt, a singer, and Marge Goddard, a pianist.
She developed an interest in music as well as activism at an early age. She started playing the guitar at the age of eight after she received one as a Christmas present.
She completed her high school education from Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1967. She then studied social relations and African studies at Radcliffe College, after which she planned to go to Tanzania.
During her college days, she often used to play music at local coffeehouses. Over the next few years, Raitt’s reputation increased and she also earned the attention of record executives from Warner Bros.
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After being signed by Warner Bros, Bonnie Raitt released her self-titled debut album in 1971. It included tracks, such as ‘Bluebird’, ‘Big Road’ and ‘Walking Blues’. The album was appreciated by critics. Over the next few years, she released several other albums like ‘Streetlights’ (1974), ‘Sweet Forgiveness’ (1977), ‘Green Light’ (1982) and ‘Nine Lives’ (1986).
In 1989, she signed with Capitol Records and released her next album ‘Nick of Time’, which became her first commercial hit. The album peaked at the first position on the US Billboard 200, and also won three Grammy Awards including one in the category of ‘Album of the Year.’ It sold around five million copies.
Her next album ‘Luck of the Draw’, released after two years, was also a huge success, selling seven million copies in the US alone. Like her previous album, it also won three Grammy Awards.
Her album ‘Longing in their Hearts’ (1994) was also a huge success, peaking at the first position on the US Billboard 200. The song ‘Love Sneaking Up on You’ became very popular, peaking at the 19th position on the Billboard singles chart. The album also won two Grammy Awards. The other albums Raitt released over the next few years include ‘Fundamental’ (1998), ‘Silver Lining’ (2002), and ‘Souls Alike’ (2005).
In 2012, she released the album ‘Slipstream.’ It earned critical acclaim and was also a huge commercial success. It won a Grammy Award in the category of ‘Best Americana Album’. Her most recent album ‘Dig in Deep’ was released in 2016. It was a commercial success and stood at the 11th position on the US Billboard 200. It was also met with positive reviews.
‘Nick of Time’ was the first commercially successful album in Bonnie Raitt’s career. With singles such as ‘Nick of Time’, ‘Cry on My Shoulder’ and ‘Real Man’, it sold around five million copies. The album peaked at the first position on the US Billboard 200, and also won three Grammy Awards in the categories of ‘Album of the Year’, ‘Best Female Rock Performance’ and ‘Best Female Pop Performance’. It has also been included in the Book ‘10001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’.
‘Luck of the Draw’ is one of Raitt’s most successful albums. The album was a huge commercial success, selling over seven million copies in the US alone. It peaked at the second position on the US Billboard 200 and also entered the charts in countries such as Norway and New Zealand. It won three Grammy Awards in the categories ‘Best Rock Performance by a Duo or group with Vocal’, ‘Best Rock Vocal Performance’ and ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’. It included singles such as ‘Something to Talk About’ and ‘No Business’.
More recently, she released her album ‘Slipstream’ which has been praised as her best album in years by the American Songwriter Magazine. It stood at the sixth position on the US Billboard 200, and also entered the charts in various countries, such as Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. It contained singles like ‘Right Down the Line’ and ‘Splitting Up’. It also won the Grammy Award in the category of ‘Best Americana Album’.
Awards & Achievements
Bonnie Raitt has been nominated for the Grammy Awards numerous times. She has won the Grammy ten times: three for her album ‘Nick of Time’, three for her album ‘Luck of the Draw’, two for her album ‘Longing in their Hearts’, one for ‘SRV Shuffle’ and one for her album ‘Slipstream’.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the year 2000.
Bonnie Raitt married actor Michael O’Keefe in 1991. They divorced after some years as their individual careers caused them to stay apart for long periods of time, eventually creating a rift between them.
She is known for her activism related to environmental causes. She was a founding member of Musicians United for Safe Energy, which was founded in 1979, and has also worked with Reverb, a non-profit environmental organization.
She is a part of the No Nukes Group, which opposes expansion of nuclear power. She has made monetary contributions towards various charitable causes as well.