- Marina Chavez
- Bonnie Raitt: 'I needed to feel all of those feelings and not medicate them away.'
With 10 Grammys to her name and a bevy of critically acclaimed albums under her belt, Bonnie Raitt's fame not only precedes her, it also continues unabated.
On this year's Grammy telecast, she sang and played electric guitar alongside Gary Clark Jr. and Chris Stapleton in a tribute to B.B. King. Meanwhile, her recently released album, Dig in Deep, has gotten great reviews and is being touted as one of her best efforts — no small statement for a catalog that includes her acclaimed 1971 self-titled debut, 1989's Nick of Time (her 6 million-selling commercial breakthrough) and 1991's Luck of the Draw.
Dig in Deep finds Raitt — a fine singer and accomplished guitarist whose signature hits include "Thing Called Love," "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Something to Talk About" — building upon the success of her 2012 release, Slipstream, which sold more than a quarter-million copies despite being the first release on her own label, Redwing Records. That album went on to win yet another Grammy, this time for Best Americana Album.
Raitt has always been proud of her albums, regardless of how they're received once they come out. "They mean as much to me every time I put a record out. It's the same amount of work and heart."
Recording and touring, she points out, have helped her through the pain of several losses in her personal life. Two years into her tour for 2002's Souls Alike, she lost her mother, pianist Marjorie Haydock. A year later, she lost her father John Raitt, an acclaimed Broadway star whose productions included Carousel and Oklahoma. Then in 2009, Raitt's older brother, Steven, succumbed to brain cancer.
"The touring and recording during that difficult decade was very helpful and cathartic," she says. "If it hadn't been for my fans and having that to do, I think I would have been a lot more dejected and drained than I was."
Raitt did take some time off after her brother's death, during which she benefited from a solid community of support. "I was really very lucky to know that I needed to get some grief counseling when I took that hiatus. I had stuffed away a lot of those feelings ... My natural state is to be positive and outgoing, and I knew that I needed to accept a wintertime that I was going through, and to feel all of those feelings and not medicate them away."
These days, Raitt is in a good place emotionally and excited to be touring Dig in Deep, whose highlights include the instantly classic "Gypsy in Me." There's also "What You're Doin' to Me," a rollicking shuffle that pairs Raitt's gospel-inflected piano playing with Mike Finnegan's B-3 organ work, as well as the funky "Unintended Consequence of Love," which is in the tradition of hits like "Love Letter" and "Love Sneakin' Up On You."
"We've waited a long time and we've worked hard to find these new songs," says Raitt, who'll also be playing past hits as well as some lesser-known songs from her extensive body of work. "I've gone back and dug deep into the past catalog, and I've had some real surprises," she says. "Some that even surprised me."