Bonnie Raitt

On this date in 1949, blues singer Bonnie Lynn Raitt was born in Burbank, Calif., the daughter of Broadway musical star John Raitt (Curly in “Oklahoma”) and pianist Marjorie Haydock (whose father was a Methodist minister and missionary). Raitt, who got her first guitar for Christmas at age 8, was raised as a Quaker and graduated from Oakwood Friends School before enrolling at Radcliffe College. She became friends with blues promoter Dick Waterman and moved to Philadelphia to start a music career, releasing her eponymous debut album in 1971.

As of this writing in 2019, Raitt has recorded 20 albums (the latest, Dig in Deep” in 2016) and has received 10 Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone has named her one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” and one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Her 2019 touring schedule included opening for James Taylor & His All-Star Band.

Her commitment to social, charitable and political activism includes co-headlining with Jackson Browne and Keb Mo’ the 2004 “Vote For Change” tour, the Musicians United for Safe Energy campaigns against nuclear power and for disaster relief after the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan, and the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Project with Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The project funds music programs in more than 200 clubs serving underprivileged youth.

She co-founded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which works to improve royalties, financial conditions and recognition for R&B pioneers. Raitt also holds seats on advisory and honorary boards of Little Kids Rock, Rainforest Action Network, Music Maker Relief Foundation and the Arhoolie Foundation, which preserves vernacular culture. She married actor Michael O’Keefe in 1991. They announced their divorce in 1999.

Masahiro Sumori photo; CC 3.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation