Doug Cox says he’s finding it increasingly difficult to find a female headliner for Vancouver Island MusicFest.
But the executive producer of the annual gathering in Courtenay has managed to rustle up one of the best in the business — none other than singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt, a slide guitarist extraordinaire whose illustrious career has garnered numerous 10 Grammy Awards and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
“She’s as good as it gets,” says Cox, himself a slide guitarist. “She’s one of the real trailblazers on the slide guitar, and one of the biggest inspirations for anybody who’s a slide player.”
Raitt, 64, is among the few women who studied with some of the great blues players. As a young woman, Cox notes, she was a disciple of Mississippi Fred McDowell, a purveyor of original Delta blues.
“She comes from the tradition of a serious blues student, and she’s become so much more than that in her career,” Cox said. “Most musicians that go in that direction, they basically stay in that direction. But she’s also become a huge pop star over the years.
“She also has one of the most recognizable voices on the planet,” he added.
Raitt comes by her talents honestly.
Her father, John Raitt, was a celebrated Broadway singer and her mother, Marge Goddard, was an accomplished pianist and singer. She released a self-titled debut album in 1971.
Her 19th recording, Slipstream, earned her 10th Grammy for Best Americana Album in 2012.
Rolling Stone named Raitt one of the 100 greatest singers of all time. She was inducted into the Hall in 2000, and received a lifetime achievement award from the Americana Music Association in 2012.
“She’s had an extraordinary career,” Cox said. “Her music comes from a place of truth and of deep, deep roots. There’s not many modern pop stars that can claim that.
“That’s one of the things I admire about her so much. The depth of her music goes way beyond most modern pop stars.”
Raitt will perform Saturday, July 12 at the 20th anniversary of MusicFest, which is already half sold out.
“We’re anticipating an early sellout this year,” Cox said.
The festival runs from July 11 to 13 at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.
For an updated list of performers and for tickets, visit www.islandmusicfest.com.