Bonnie Raitt, (born November 8, 1949) is an American blues/R&B singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was born in Burbank, California, the daughter of Broadway musical star John Raitt.
Raitt began playing guitar at an early age, something not a lot of her high school girlfriends did. Later she would become famous for her bottleneck-style guitar playing. “I had played a little at school and at camp,” she later recalled in a July 2002 interview. “My parents would drag me out to perform for my family, like all parents do, but it was a hobby—nothing more. …I think people must wonder how a white girl like me became a blues guitarist. The truth is, I never intended to do this for a living. I grew up…in a Quaker family, and for me being Quaker was a political calling rather than a religious one.”
In 1967 Raitt continued her pursuit in that path when she entered Harvard’s Radcliffe College as a freshman, majoring in African Studies. “My plan was to travel to Tanzania, where President Julius Nyerere was creating a government based on democracy and socialism,” Raitt recalled. “I wanted to help undo the damage that Western colonialism had done to native cultures around the world. Cambridge was a hotbed of this kind of thinking, and I was thrilled.”
One day, Raitt was notified by a friend that blues promoter Dick Waterman was giving an interview at WHRB, Harvard’s college radio station. An important figure in the blues revival of the 1960s, Waterman was also a resident of Cambridge. Raitt went to see Waterman, and the two soon became friends, “much to the chagrin of my parents, who didn’t expect their freshman daughter to be running around with 65-year-old bluesmen,” recalled Raitt.