The talented musician has had an impressive career that spans five decades, but it quickly took over social media following the win. The words “Who is Bonnie Raitt?” Were even uttered.
Bonnie has released a whopping 18 albums since she first entered the scene in 1970. Throughout the years, she has continuously topped the charts, sold out numerous world tours, and even won 12 Grammys before the event night’s Sunday, including the 2022 Achievement Lifetime Award.
She was born to famous parents, who were well-known actors and successful pianists. At the age of eight, she taught herself how to play the guitar and became a renowned stage performer. It was clear from a young age that she was destined to be a star, and now at 73 years old, she has achieved great success.
She left college during her second year to pursue her love of music, quickly attracting potential record labels’ attention.
However, despite her evident talent and enthusiasm for performing, Bonnie was not interested in achieving commercial success.
In the early ’70s, Warner Brothers signed the vocalist, establishing a sequence of demanding ‘requirements,’ which encompassed never receiving instructions on ‘what or when to record’ or being compelled to collaborate with an unwanted individual. In fact, she despised the concept of being a ‘mainstream artist.’
After her label dropped her, Bonnie struggled to find fame for many years in the music industry, despite expecting her career to quickly flourish, as she released eight unsuccessful albums in a row.
Prince, the legendary figure in the music industry, played a crucial role in supporting her journey to sobriety and rekindled her passion for music. However, despite his influence, she eventually succumbed to the allure of the party lifestyle, leading her down a path of substance abuse.
In 1989, when she released her most successful album ever, Bonnie truly excelled – propelling herself into immense fame.
After Bonnie’s triumph as the recipient of the Song of the Year accolade at the 2023 Grammys, FEMAIL is outlining her extraordinary voyage from start to finish.
The singer who has won awards, here is all the information you require regarding her triumph over substance abuse, her conflicting feelings towards fame, and her unwavering resolve to maintain her integrity.
Bonnie’s talent was evident from a young age, although she was hesitant to label herself as successful and uninterested in commercial success.
Bonnie was born on November 8, 1949, in Burbank, California, and since she was young, she had a strong interest in performing.
Although she seemed destined to be a star from a young age, thanks to her famous parents, John Raitt, a well-known stage actor, and Marge Goddard, a singer, her mother, and a successful pianist.
It was an obvious decision for Bonnie’s parents to gift her a brand-new guitar at the age of eight, as it was a perfect match made in heaven for her love of music.
Firmly established was her aspiration to become a renowned musician – and the young girl, who was only eight at the time, swiftly acquired the skills to play the musical instrument, without any formal instruction necessary.
After graduating from high school, she headed off to the east coast to attend Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she became the lead singer of an on-campus music group known as Collective Music Revolutionary.
During her second year of school, she was encouraged by Dick Waterman, a famous music promoter and friend, to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and focus her career full-time on music.
Numerous individuals within the music sector swiftly captured the interest of the show owing to her indisputable aptitude and commanding presence on stage, and in 1970, she received an invitation to partake in the Philadelphia Folk Festival – and she promptly commenced performing at a sequence of taverns and establishments in the vicinity of Philly.
She was asked to open up for the musical legend John Hammond during one of his shows at Café Gaslight in New York City, where she was a writer for Newsweek.
Suddenly, a multitude of record labels came knocking at her door, attempting to sign her, and he penned a glowing critique about Bonnie.
However, according to the celebrity, she never aspired for monetary success and was hesitant to accept a contract with a music company.
Bonnie’s strong-mindedness was evident from the beginning, as she made it clear that she was going to make her own decisions – a fact that was highlighted when she released her debut album, Bonnie Raitt, in 1971 and ultimately signed with Warner Brothers.
She told Variety in 2022 that she didn’t want to sign with any record label that had the condition of me telling anyone when or what to record or work with someone that I didn’t pick or look to be told how.
“I said, ‘I am a kind of FM-stone artist, but I have no plans to be a commercial singles artist with Warner Bros.'”
Unfortunately, Bonnie’s lack of success with the unhappy Warner Brothers leaving early resulted in none of her albums being sold well. However, in 1973, she released an album titled “My Takin'” which was followed by her second LP called “Give It Up” in 1972.
In the 1980s, Bonnie was released by her record company and resorted to substance abuse and alcohol, but she attributes renowned vocalist Prince with assisting her in achieving sobriety and rekindling her passion for music.
Despite being unexpectedly abandoned by her record label, Bonnie persevered and released additional music throughout the late 1970s, even after completing her ninth studio album in 1983.
She later informed Variety about her disagreement with Warner Brothers, stating, ‘I was punished for not following the path they believed I should take.’
At approximately the same time, Bonnie also started encountering difficulties with substance abuse and alcohol.
I thought I had to live a lifestyle of partying in order to be authentic, but later Magazine Parade told me that being dead or sloppy is going to keep you up all night if you’re in fact going to be that way.
She was able to get back stronger than ever, thanks to the intense determination as well as the help of Prince, a fellow artist. However, Bonnie’s career could have definitely come to an end due to her substance abuse problems and lack of a record label.
‘Let’s engage in some activities collectively. I’ll introduce you to Paisley Park,’ Prince phoned and expressed, as she reminisced, ‘I was going through a difficult period…’.
“I said, if we make a video together, you know what, I loved it just by quitting drinking and losing weight. So, I decided to quit drinking and lose some weight to feel better.”
‘I recently began spending time with a group of musicians who had embraced sobriety… They appeared healthier, felt healthier, performed better.’
She informed Variety that achieving sobriety was ‘life-altering’ for her, ‘spiritually, physically, and creatively.’.
But during the 2022 interview, she admitted that it’s something she still struggles with it today, even after 35 years of sobriety.
‘As anyone in rehabilitation understands, you’re never fully healed. And in reality, many individuals relapse,’ the artist clarified.
‘Evaluating your behavior and recognizing any potential imperfections in your personality traits is a customary practice.’
Especially amidst the pandemic, it felt like you could simply remain in bed and report yourself as unwell.
‘In place of having dinner, you have the option to indulge in an additional three slices of pie. On the following day, you have the opportunity to stay up all night watching movies and getting some rest.’
‘You understand, we’re all human, we’re all managing an unparalleled magnitude of tension and apprehension, so it’s a continual observation.
I am here on Earth to fulfill my mission by being genuine, compassionate, and mindful. I understand the importance of staying grounded and not straying too far from a path that is considerate, healthy, and well-balanced. I am aware that I am not flawless, but I embrace my humanity and have learned the significance of self-care and prioritizing your health and goals. It is crucial for you to pay attention to yourself and take care of your well-being.
“When I make mistakes, I grant myself forgiveness and all that, indulging in occasional breaks and giving myself some leniency enables me to attempt and pursue loftier objectives. Setting my goals and aligning my values have truly been crucial, I believe.”
‘It is important to have a perspective that appreciates and values life, nature, and fun, while also allowing enough time for yourself to have a career or goal-oriented mindset.’
After leaving the party scene, Bonnie returned to creating music and was contracted by Capitol Records.
She subsequently launched her tenth album, Nick of Time, in 1989, which achieved tremendous success.
Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time still ranks it at number 230, and it has also earned four Grammy awards. However, the LP did not reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
After nearly two decades of making music, Bonnie finally earned the success she had previously said she didn’t want – becoming one of the most well-known blues guitarists and singers in the world.
Her subsequent album, Luck of the Draw, earned three additional Grammys and sold an impressive seven million copies throughout the United States.
Following that was Longing in Their Hearts, which won two Grammys and became her second album to reach number one.
The singer admitted to struggling with the pressures that came from being in the spotlight while speaking to Variety, adding that she was thankful for the success that came when she was older.
She expressed her gratitude, stating that she received it during a time when she was capable of managing it, and that she was truly thankful for the career advancement opportunity.
‘Because I don’t believe I could have managed it. I didn’t actively pursue it and I wouldn’t have desired a successful record.
‘I deliberately rejected songs that could have propelled me to stardom, and declined offers to be managed.
I didn’t want the pressure that I was supposed to feel. I was planning to do this in my own way, influenced by the folk and jazz musicians of my generation, and I wanted it to last for a long time.
Bonnie has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon – she hopes to keep making music, going on tours, and has fully embraced the process of aging.
Bonnie’s career continued to flourish during the early 2000s, as she released two more albums in 2002, both of which contained big singles that I don’t want to change anything and I won’t be broken, just like Souls and gold certified Lining Silver.
In the year 2000, she was honored with a membership to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2002, she was bestowed with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, in 2006, she unveiled a live performance DVD.
Bonnie seemed to slow down a bit after she came back with a vengeance when she performed a breathtaking rendition of “Sunday Kind of Love” during the Grammys in 2012, honoring Etta James with Alicia Keys.
Later on, she revealed her debut studio album following a period of seven years, named Slipstream, which achieved the sixth spot on the chart.
The record shared the identical title as the acclaimed Song of the Year, encompassing the recent Grammy. Just Like That… Referred to the latter and released two more albums in 2022.
She hopes to continue making music and touring for as long as she can, as she told Variety. The star has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
As time passed, artists who appeared to become more skilled as the years went by, because particularly as they got ‘older,’ she has been ‘welcomed’ by NPR, as she mentioned back in April.
My role models were people who explained that as they aged, they were just getting more experienced in their musical abilities and their tones were becoming richer.
“Being respected, you know, their emeritus status and advanced age, they appear to welcome those who persistently push boundaries and explore new opportunities, which has always been a source of inspiration.”
As they grew older, they cherished it more and never really pondered about it, except when people frequently ask me, “What is the experience of aging like in this industry?”