For nearly twenty years, Bonnie Raitt was one of popular music's best-kept secrets. Brought up in Hollywood, in a show-business family, Raitt developed not just an affinity to the blues, but a passion for it unmatched by most of the male singers who had risen through the folk-music movement of the '50s and '60s, let alone her fellow Radcliffe students. Raitt had been releasing albums since 1971, building a small but strong fan base. Her tenth album, 1989's Nick of Time, changed all that: with Raitt evidently comfortably ensconced in a singer-songwriter bag (though she continued to find fine, unfamiliar material by other writers), the album hit No. 1 on Billboard's sales chart, and won the singer Grammys for Album of the Year; Best Rock Performance, Female; and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, Showing that she wasn't deserting the blues, Raitt won a fourth Grammy that year, Best Traditional Blues Recording, for her duet of I'm in the Mood with John Lee Hooker on the veteran blues man's The Healer album.
Raitt was born in Los Angeles; her father is the Broadway and film star John Raitt. Perhaps as a bit of teenage rebellion; perhaps because folk music was in the air, Bonnie took up guitar, and was soon drawn to the blues. Dropping out of Radcliffe, she began to make a name for herself on the Boston/Cambridge club and coffee-house circuit, and signed with Dick Waterman, who already managed several blues acts. Through Waterman's connections (and, of course, her own talent), Raitt was soon opening for such older blues performers as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sippie Wallace, and Hooker. She became fluent on the bottleneck-slide guitar. Signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1971, she released nine albums for the label. With blues as a base, she also recorded singer-songwriter material, and even the rock and roll standards The Girl Can't Help It and Runaway - the latter her first hit single. Moving to Capitol - and teaming for the first time with producer Don Was - she released her life-changing Nick of Time. Its follow-up, Luck of the Draw, won three more Grammys, and outsold its predecessor. In 2000, Raitt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The honor wasn't just for her records, one can assume, but for her tireless efforts in championing the blues, whether bringing favorite artists like Charles Brown on her tours, or lending her high profile to various projects - records, television shows, books and more - promoting her elders and inspirations. She's also become involved in many charitable and social causes, including Musicians United for Safe Energy, which she co-founded. She also helped initiate the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, a cultural, charitable and legal organization dedicated to assisting rhythm and blues artists; and The Bonnie Raitt Guitar Project, in association with The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.