Bonnie Raitt, (born November 8, 1949) is an American blues and 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. “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.