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Bonnie Raitt          

Grammy-winning Country and Blues singer known for hits like "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Bonnie Raitt headed to the East Coast for college at Radcliffe, eager to leap into the social turmoil of the 1960s. She once said, "I couldn't wait to get back to where there were folkies and the antiwar and Civil Rights movements. There were so many great music and political scenes going on in the late '60s in Cambridge."

Alongside her interest in social issues of the day, Raitt kept up with her music and often played at local coffeehouses between classes, fine-tuning her signature style -- a gritty, passionate voice coupled with skillful interpretations on the bottleneck guitar. Soon a staple of the Boston folk-and-blues circuit, she met blues promoter Dick Waterman, who would in turn introduce her to the likes of Sippie Wallace, Son House and Muddy Waters. It wasn't long before her reputation and insights into the blues guitar attracted the attention of record executives at Warner Bros.

By 1971, Raitt had released her self-titled debut album, which consisted mostly of carefully chosen covers. Her contemporary interpretations of songs like Del Shannon's "Runaway" and others by Randy Newman, John Prine and Eric Kaz impressed critics who hailed her as a prodigy. Despite her newfound status as a critical darling, Raitt struggled to find commercial success. It wasn't until 1977's "Sweet Forgiveness" that the singer had a hit. Soon thereafter, Warner Bros. and Columbia Records were locked in a bidding war to sign the rising star.

In the early 1980s, Raitt played a number of benefits that appealed to her long-held Quaker ideals. From nuclear war to apartheid, the guitarist would play for hundreds of causes throughout the years. She would go on to share bills with the likes of the Doobie Brothers, James Taylor and Jackson Browne.

Still lacking the commercial success to match her critical acclaim, Raitt continued to experiment musically. It wasn't until 1989 that she would really make her commercial breakthrough. Working with a new label (Capitol Records), Raitt hit her stride, smoothing out the kinks in her style to strike a successful balance between commercial and critical success.

"Nick of Time" earned the songstress three Grammy Awards in 1990, and she won another award for a duet with John Lee Hooker. The album rose all the way to the top of the charts, selling 4 million copies. Three years later, Raitt and producer Don Was struck platinum again with "Luck of the Draw," winning more Grammy Awards and critical accolades. The hit singles "Something to Talk About" and "I Can't Make You Love Me" sold more than 8 million copies in the United States.

Raitt continued to release strong albums throughout the early 1990s. In 1991, she married Michael O'Keefe and, after decades of nonstop work, decided to take a break from studio recording. Traveling for fun instead of work rejuvenated Raitt, but she still took the time to collaborate with friends like Keb' Mo and Pete Seeger on musical projects, even earning a Grammy in 1996 for her work on a tribute album to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Continuing to work for favored causes such as reproductive freedom, environmental defense and health care, Raitt lent her name to a series of Fender guitars with proceeds going to inner city music programs for young girls.

In 2000, Raitt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; three years later, she released a greatest hits album, "The Best of Bonnie Raitt" on Capitol 1989-2003. A follow-up project was a CD/DVD collaboration called Bonnie Raitt and Friends, featuring performances alongside the likes of Norah Jones, Alison Krauss, Keb' Mo and Ben Harper.

In 2009, Raitt and Taj Mahal set off on a 30-date tour across the United States, featuring duets as well as individual performances. Adding philanthropy to the mix, they also raised money for various charities by matching any donations made by ticket holders. "It's a great opportunity for all of us to raise the ante and the attention for something that needs focus. It's the cosmic food chain -- that we get so much and we give something back -- it's what we're supposed to do."

In April 2012, Raitt released her 16th studio album, "Slipstream," which went on to win various awards, including the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Americana Album.

News


Bonnie Raitt Digs In Deep For New Album

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt talks with Here & Now’s Robin Young about her new album “Dig in Deep.” The album features five songs written by Raitt, who says that she chose the title to reflect not only the grooves she and her band dig into, but also the depth of the topics she chose to write about.

Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt to headline Harvey benefit concert - CBS ...

Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt are the latest celebrities to ... Harvey Relief (administered by the Greater Houston Community Fund).

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