6 Things To Know About Bonnie Raitt: Her Famous Fans, Legendary Friends & Lack Of Retirement Plan

on March 6, 2023 No comments
by Marah Eakin

A Special Benefit for the GRAMMY Museum’s Music Education Programs

To celebrate her incredible wins at this year’s GRAMMY Awards, including Song Of The Year, Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Performance, the GRAMMY Museum is thrilled to welcome 13-time GRAMMY-winner and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Bonnie Raitt for a special benefit program at the GRAMMY Museum. The program will be moderated by GRAMMY telecast writer and producer David Wild, an Emmy Award and Peabody Award winning writer who worked with Bonnie Raitt going back to his days at Rolling Stone magazine. Proceeds from this event will benefit the music education initiatives of the GRAMMY Museum. 

Bonnie Raitt is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist whose unique style blends blues, R&B, rock, and pop. After 20 years as a cult favorite, she broke through to the top in the early 90s with her GRAMMY-award-winning albums, Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw, which featured hits, “Something To Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” among others. The thirteen-time GRAMMY winner was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and Rolling Stone named the slide guitar ace one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”

2022 was an incredible year for Raitt with a 75-date headlining U.S. tour; the release of her critically acclaimed 21st album ‘Just Like That…,’ on her independent label, Redwing Records; receiving the Icon Award at this 2022’s Billboard Women In Music Awards and seeing her breakthrough album, ‘Nick of Time’ added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. ‘Just Like That…’ was #1 on six Billboard charts the week of release and was perched at #1 on the Americana Radio Album Chart for ten consecutive weeks. The album’s first single, “Made Up Mind” remained in the top three spots on the Americana Radio Singles Chart for 17 weeks. Raitt will be on tour for most of 2023 with stops in the U.S., Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Canada. View all concert dates here

As known for her lifelong commitment to social activism as she is for her music, Raitt has long been involved with the environmental movement, performing concerts around oil, nuclear power, mining, water, and forest protection since the mid-‘70s. She was a founding member of MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), which produced the historic concerts, album, and movie NO NUKES, and continues to work on safe energy issues in addition to environmental protection, social justice, and human rights, as well as creator’s rights and music education.

During “A Conversation With Bonnie Raitt” at the GRAMMY Museum, 13-time GRAMMY winner detailed her career trajectory, history of big-name collaborations, and how her win for Song Of The Year at this year’s GRAMMY Awards was “a total surprise.”

For the uninitiated, Bonnie Raitt is just an “unknown blues singer” — albeit one who managed to nab the Song Of The Year award at the 2023 GRAMMYs, plus two other trophies. But to the millions in the know, and the choice few in attendance for a chat with Raitt at the Grammy Museum on March 5, she is a living legend.

Over the course of her decades-long career, Raitt has earned 30 GRAMMY nominations, taking home 13 golden gramophones for tracks like “Nick Of Time,” “Something To Talk About,” and “SRV Shuffle,” as well as albums such as Luck Of The Draw and Longing In The Hearts. Last year, Raitt was awarded the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, and at this year’s ceremony, she snagged GRAMMYs for Best American Roots Song, Best Americana Performance and the coveted Song Of The Year.

Before she heads out on a tour of the western United States and Australia, Raitt sat down to chat with moderator David Wild for about two hours, musing not only about her “total surprise” about snagging the Song trophy, but also about her experience at the ceremony. It was an illuminating and downright charming experience — as well as an educational one. Here are six things we learned at “A Conversation With Bonnie Raitt.” 

Bonnie Raitt at the GRAMMY Museum – March 5, 2023 © Rebecca Sapp

Taylor Swift Is A Fan —  And A Humble One At That

Raitt recounted being chatted up by Taylor Swift during the GRAMMYs, with Swift telling Raitt backstage that she felt okay losing Song Of The Year to her. Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” was in competition, alongside works by Lizzo, Adele and Harry Styles.

Swift also introduced herself to Raitt, whom she’d never met, saying,”Hi, I’m Taylor.” Raitt said she responded, “Ya think?” — which made the audience in the Clive Davis Theater crack up.

She’s A Master Collaborator, With More On The Way

“No one commands more respect” amongst their musical peers than Bonnie Raitt, said Wild, who’s worked on the GRAMMY Awards as a writer since 2001. Whenever the show’s team has struggled to think of who could best pay tribute to someone like John Prine, Ray Charles, or Christine McVie, “the answer is always Bonnie Raitt.”

That’s probably why, as Raitt noted, she’s recorded duets with more than 100 different musical acts — from Bryan Adams to B.B. King. Raitt added that she’d still love to work with Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and H.E.R., and that fans can anticipate new collaborative work coming from work she’s done with Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow

Raitt added that she’s gotten really into Unknown Mortal Orchestra lately, who she heard about through Bruce Hornsby.

She’s Learned From And Befriended Musical Masters

Raitt was effusive about her love for King, among others, saying that one of the great joys of her career has been sitting at the feet of blues greats like Sippie Wallace and Son House. The singer/songwriter expressed her gratitude for being able to help get so many of these once-forgotten masters both the attention and the pay they deserved. She cited her work with the Rhythm And Blues Foundation as being of great importance to her personally, saying that it’s vital that the roots of blues and jazz are taught in schools today.

Wild also got Raitt to open up about her friendship with legendary gospel-soul singer Mavis Staples, who toured with Raitt just last year. Calling Staples, “all the preacher I’ll ever need,” Raitt said she thinks she and Staples bonded over being the daughters of famous fathers. “It’s a great honor of my life being friends with her,” Raitt said of her “mutual sister.”

Later, Raitt also waxed rhapsodic about another famous daughter, Natalie Cole, who she said she’d been thinking about all day.

Raitt’s Got An Independent Spirit And An Independent Label

A good portion of Wild and Raitt’s chat was devoted to the star’s career trajectory. The two detailed how, as a 21-year-old college student, Raitt signed to Warner Bros. only after they promised her complete creative control and nowadays has her own indie label, Redwing.

Raitt said it was only with the help of a”team of mighty women” that she was able to go independent. She cited lessons from friends like Prine, Staples, and Jackson Browne, from whom she learned going it alone could be done successfully. 

Bonnie Raitt Almost Missed Out On “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

Raitt also talked a bit about her previous GRAMMY triumphs, including her run of nominations and wins around 1989’s Nick Of Time. Her popular single, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” was originally written for Ricky Skaggs, who intended to make it a lively bluegrass record. 

Raitt added that she thinks the song “Nick Of Time” struck a chord because she opened up about what it means to be getting older.

She’s Not Planning On Retiring (Or Dying) Any Time Soon

After joking that COVID lockdown felt like “house arrest” and “hibernation,” Raitt said that her recent tours have been a blessing. “It feels like I was under the earth without any sunshine,” Raitt says, reassuring attendees that she’s “never retiring.” She said that while she’s lost eight friends in the past three or four weeks, including the great David Lindley, the 73-year-old is optimistic that she can “be here and celebrate for another couple of decades.”

Raitt capped off the event doing what she loves best, teaming with long-time bassist Hutch Hutchinson for an intimate four-song set that included “Angel From Montgomery,” “Shadow Of Doubt,” “Nick Of Time,” and the GRAMMY-winning “Just Like That.” Raitt ended the evening by thanking the Recording Academy for inviting her out, joking, “I can’t believe I get to do this for a living.”

Source: © Copyright The Grammy Awards

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Raitt Uses Grammy Win to Raise Social Awareness
Bonnie Raitt has used her surprise win at the Grammy Awqrds to draw attention to the issue of organ transplants

on February 12, 2023 No comments
by Paul Cutler

Bonnie Raitt accentuated the positive, while ignoring the negative, in her latest response on social media following the controversy which surrounded her surprise win at the 65th Grammy Awards.

Raitt sent shockwaves through popular music when her “real-life” roots song “Just Like That” shut out popular artists like Harry Styles, Beyonce and Taylor Swift to win the sought-after Song of the Year Grammy.

There was a largely negative response in the mainstream media, with Rolling Stone labeling it as a WTF moment and declaring it “a typical Grammy blunder.” The magazine added: We thought the Grammys had moved beyond such bizarrely out-of-touch choices, but apparently not.”

And the U.K. Daily Mail declared: “So who is Bonnie Raitt?”

Showing the same dignity she displayed in her Grammy acceptance speech, Raitt posted on Facebook: “I’ve been so deeply moved, often to tears, reading the personal stories of hundreds of you, some of whom have had no familiarity with me or my music before I won that Grammy, and were curious why this song had won.”

Raitt was inspired to write her winning song after watching a news story about a mother who met the recipient of her dead son’s transplanted heart. Her endearing lyrics relate – in the first-person narrative – how the mother gets to hear her boy’s heart beating again:
I lay my head upon his chest
And I was with my boy again

And it was the issue of organ donation which dominated her Facebook response: “After listening, many of you wrote that you were moved to tears, even inspired to share your own heart-wrenching stories of either having your loved one’s life saved by an organ donation, or having decided at the height of the terrible shock and loss of losing a beloved, that you would donate their organs so that others could live. “

Raitt added: “So many messages from nurses and doctors in the field involved with transplants as well as people who were tragically not able to get an organ in time to save their loved one’s life. There are messages from the family members of people who wanted their organs to be donated, but are now living with the guilt when that wish, for whatever reason, was not able to be fulfilled. These stories run the gamut and I’m just blown open by the vulnerability and power of each of them.”

Raitt is no stranger to popular causes and her social activism dates back to her early recording days in the 1970’s. She has wasted little time in in converting the success of Just Like That” into raising awareness of organ donation: “May the song bring about even more awareness and motivation for more of us to support organ donation registration and infrastructure — removing obstacles that have hindered helping thousands connecting to facilitate this miraculous gift of life and help bring comfort to those suffering such tragic loss.”

And in her Facebook posting, she referenced her followers to an Op-Ed in USA Today by Dr Maureen McBride, the interim CEO of United Network for Organ Sharing.

As might be expected, Dr McBride used Raitt’s success to further the cause of organ donations. “He song was inspired, she said, by love and the grace and generosity of someone (who) donates their beloved’s organs tohelp another person live.”

She concluded: “Bonnie Raitt sang so beautifully about a life saved by an organ donor. Thousands of Americans are alive today because of transplants. Thousands join them every year. Nonetheless, we must take decisive action to best serve the thousands more who are still waiting.”


Another feature of Raitt’s Grammy speech which got much feedback, especially in the Americana music community, was how much she had been inspired to write following the death in 2020 of her old friend and collaborator John Prine.

In her latest posting she again referred to how seeing the news story on the transplanted heart had triggered memories of Prine: “I knew after it stayed with me for weeks, that I wanted to write my own story, inspired so much by John Prine’s music and his beautiful ‘Angel from Montgomery,’ which I’ve sung every show since hearing it in the early 70’s.”

Like many departed music legends, Prine’s fan base has not diminished since his loss and Raitt’s special tribute triggered a lively response across various social media fan sites. Prine’s widow Fiona Whelan Prine and Oh Boy Records, the independent record label Prine co-foundered, have also maintained a high profile in the past two years. And his official site gratefully acknowledged Raitt’s kind words without lifting the spotlight off her achievement.

Source: © Copyright Americana Music Appreciation

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Bonnie Raitt Essentials: 11 Songs That Showcase The Breadth And Depth Of The 2023 GRAMMYs Song Of The Year Winner

on February 9, 2023 No comments
by David McPherson

Following Bonnie Raitt’s big night at the 2023 GRAMMYs — where she won three golden gramophones, including the coveted Song Of The Year — looks at 11 tracks that showcase the blues icon’s talent.

When first lady Dr. Jill Biden announced the GRAMMY winner for Song of the Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs, attendees exchanged surprised looks throughout the arena — even winner Bonnie Raitt included. 

“I’m so surprised, I don’t know what to say,” Raitt said as she took the podium, her hand over her face. After all, her song “Just Like That” beat compositions written by such modern pop stars as Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Harry Styles, Adele, and Beyoncé

A day later, with three more GRAMMYS in her collection (Raitt also won golden gramophones for Best Americana Roots Song and Best Americana Performance that night) that now totals a lucky 13, the singer was still reeling. The reality? This win was no fluke. It affirmed what longtime fans, critics and many behind-the-scenes already knew; Raitt is the real deal. The significance of this win — and what made it truly special — is it was the artists’ first GRAMMY in the Song Of The Year category.    

For more than 50 years, Raitt, 73, has been making records and following her passion. The blues maven is a modern trailblazer — and bandleader — in a genre men traditionally dominate. A 10-time GRAMMY winner and 30-time nominee before this year’s awards, Raitt’s career was already legendary. Not a bad legacy for someone who did not want stardom and did it her way.


Raitt grew up in Los Angeles to parents who both worked in the arts; her dad was a Broadway star and her mom a pianist. Later, she headed east to attend Harvard where she majored in Social Relations and African Studies. Here she met promoter Dick Waterman, who introduced her to the famed Delta Blues singer Son House. During her college days, a worn vinyl copy of Blues at Newport served as her education outside the classroom; Raitt honed her sound playing the coffee houses and folk clubs in the New England area. At 21 years old, she signed a record deal with Warner Bros., and in 1971 released her self-titled debut to critical acclaim. Eight albums followed in the 1970s alone.

Mainstream success — and her first GRAMMYs — came in 1989 with Nick of Time. The record, which just last year the Library of Congress added to its National Recording Registry, won three golden gramophones: Album Of The Year, Best Rock Vocal Performance, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Three decades later, her latest GRAMMY victories solidify her place as a timeless music legend. 

In honor of Raitt’s big night at the 65th GRAMMY Awards, here are 11 Essential songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — a mix of originals, covers, deep cuts and duets.

“Thank You,” Bonnie Raitt (1971)


One of two originals Raitt penned on her self-titled debut. (The other was “Finest Lovin’ Man.”) The rest of the record was mostly covers: folk, rock and blues artists Raitt admired. This piano ballad is an early indication of Raitt’s talent to pen a song that lingers long.

“Nothing Seems to Matter,” Give it Up (1972)


Recorded at Bearsville Studio in New York, Raitt’s second album showcased more original songs (three of the 10 are self-penned) from the maturing artist whose confidence was growing. “Nothing Seems to Matter” is one of the best. With the singer’s soothing vocals, finger-picking and backed by rich orchestration, Raitt tugs at your heartstrings with this universal love song.

“Angel From Montgomery,” Streetlights (1974)


Written by her good friend John Prine — who she toured with regularly early in her career, which forged a lifelong friendship — this signature song about longing to escape an unsatisfactory life almost became more famous for Raitt than Prine’s original that appeared on his 1971 self-titled debut. The tune is a fan favorite and one Raitt has stated is one of the most important songs she has ever recorded. Her version adds a gospel feel to Prine’s storied song.

“That Song About the Midway,” Streetlights (1974)


Another stunning reimagination, this gorgeous Joni Mitchell song — from the nine-time GRAMMY-winner’s Clouds — was the opening track on Raitt’s 1974 album Streetlights. The blues singer’s version drips with soul. She takes this storied song (inspired by Mitchell meeting Leonard Cohen at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival) and gives this folk masterpiece a new spirit — injecting it with a full band sound that makes Raitt’s version almost outshine the original.

“Nick of Time,” Nick of Time (1989)


The title track from Raitt’s commercial comeback and debut with Capitol Records in 1989 is a rumination on aging and the brevity of time. Inspiration came from deep conversations with friends and observations of her own parents getting older (“I see my folks are getting on and I watch their bodies change.”) Raitt wrote the bulk of the song during a weeklong retreat in a cabin in Mendocino, California. The resulting mid-tempo ballad — with undertones of the blues — is one of the most endearing compositions Raitt has ever written: relatable and honest. The song was a Top 10 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts and won a GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

“Thing Called Love,” Nick of Time (1989)


Raitt took this John Hiatt-penned song — two years after he released it himself — and, like so many other originals before (and after) made it her own. What makes the blues-rocker’s version unique is the live-off-the-floor feel of a small band jamming in a club; yet, the resulting sound is much bigger. Raitt was helped by the engineering prowess of the late great Ed Cherney, who won a GRAMMY for his work on this record. Her rendition resulted in another hit from Nick of Time, landing at No. 11 on Billboard’s Rock charts. The video, starring Dennis Quaid, also helped to ingrain this song into the pop culture canon of the late 1980s.

“I’m in the Mood,” The Healer (1990)


Taken from John Lee Hooker‘s 1990 album The Healer, this duet with the blues legend won the pair a GRAMMY the following year for Best Traditional Blues Performance. Hooker was one of Raitt’s heroes; it was a full-circle moment getting the opportunity to record this classic 38 years after it was first a hit.

“Something to Talk About,” Luck of the Draw (1991)


From the seven-times platinum Luck of the Draw, this catchy hit song was written by Canadian Shirley Eikhard seven years before it eventually resonated with Raitt on a demo tape Eikhard sent the singer. The hooky track served Raitt’s soulful voice seamlessly, creating a combination that resulted in her biggest chart feat to date, landing at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also took home the GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1992, and more than three decades later it remains Raitt’s top-selling song — eclipsing more than seven million in sales in the U.S. alone.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” Luck of the Draw (1991)


Raitt followed her biggest pop hit with what would become her biggest ballad. Although Raitt didn’t write the sorrowful piano track, her pained-yet-poised delivery is as poignant as the song’s narrative of unrequited love. The song proved so moving that it has been covered by George Michael, Bon Iver, Boyz II Men and Adele, the latter of whom called it “just perfect in every single way,” and touted Raitt’s “stunning” voice. Now Raitt’s most-streamed song — and a GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductee — “I Can’t Make You Love Me” serves as a testament to Raitt’s ability to capture feeling whether or not she’s behind the pen.

“Gnawin’ On It,” Silver Lining (2002)


Raitt co-wrote this gritty, raw slide-guitar song that oozes so much soul with blues guitarist Roy Rogers, who was named after the famed singing cowboy. (Raitt learned her slide style from one of the masters: “Mississippi” Fred McDowell.) This performance from her 2002 Austin City Limits appearance showcases Raitt’s down-and-dirty vocals, the interplay between two guitar greats and features plenty of memorable riffs. More than 20 years since this performance was captured, it is still a joy to behold.

Bonnie Raitt accepts the award for song of the year for “Just Like That” at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles. © Chris Pizzello /AP Photo

“Just Like That,” Just Like That (2022)


“Just like that your life can change,” Raitt softly sings in this title cut from her 2022 album. Inspired by an emotive news story Raitt saw, the narrative tells of a woman who donated her late son’s heart, and years later met the organ’s recipient. With gentle finger-picking providing the melody, Raitt relates this heartwarming tale that echoes the mastery of her mentor and dear departed friend John Prine.

Though Raitt has generated several hits by reimagining other’s songs, “Just Like That” — which she wrote on her own — shows that her own tales are just as powerful and timeless. While her Song Of The Year win may have been shocking to some, Raitt’s recent GRAMMY win confirms the septuagenarian still has something to talk about — and the world is still listening.

Source: © Copyright The Grammy Awards

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