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Ani DiFranco

A folkie in punk's clothing, Ani DiFranco battled successfully against the Goliath of corporate rock to emerge as one of the most influential and inspirational cult heroines of the 1990s. A resolute follower of D.I.Y. ethos, DiFranco released her records through her own indie label, Righteous Babe, slowly but steadily building a devout grassroots following on the strength of a relentless tour schedule. An ardent feminist and an open bisexual, her songs tackled issues like rape, abortion, and sexism with insight and compassion, the music's empowering attitude and anger tempered by the poignant candor of singer/songwriter confessionalism.

DiFranco was born in Buffalo, NY, on September 23, 1970. She began her career at the age of nine, when her guitar teacher helped her land her first gig -- performing a set of Beatles covers -- at an area coffeehouse. Befriended by the likes of Suzanne Vega and Michelle Shocked, she later gave up music to study ballet, but at the age of 14 returned to the guitar and began composing her first songs. A year later, alienated from her crumbling family structure, she left home, living with friends while making the rounds of the Buffalo folk club circuit.

DiFranco had written over 100 original songs by the age of 19, and after briefly studying art, she relocated to New York City to further her musical aspirations; besieged by requests from fans for tapes of her performances, she recorded a demo and pressed 500 copies of a self-titled cassette to sell at shows. The tape -- a Spartan acoustic folk collection of intensely personal essays on failed relationships and gender inequities -- quickly sold out, and in 1990 DiFranco founded Righteous Babe to better distribute her recordings, which were slowly spreading across the country on the strength of a substantial word-of-mouth following.

In 1991, after issuing the assured Not So Soft, DiFranco hit the road alone, touring the nation in her Volkswagen and playing gigs wherever she could find them. Her cult blossomed, and her distinct image -- shaved head, tattoos, and body piercings -- soon became the de rigueur look for her fans as well. As albums like 1992's Imperfectly and 1993's Puddle Dive expanded her musical ambitions as well as her following, DiFranco became the subject of considerable major-label interest, yet she steadfastly rejected all offers as Righteous Babe grew to become a highly viable business venture.

DiFranco continued playing over 200 dates a year, and soon even the mainstream media took notice of her cottage-industry music; after 1994's masterful Out of Range, she exploded with the following year's Not a Pretty Girl, which garnered notice from outlets ranging from CNN to The New York Times. A sprawling, eclectic work detailing a heated love affair with a man (much to the chagrin of her lesbian followers), 1996's Dilate even debuted in the Top 100 of the Billboard charts, a stunning achievement for an independent release. The live set Living in Clip followed in 1997.

Early in 1998, DiFranco released the studio effort Little Plastic Castle; her most musically diverse release yet, it also was her highest-charting album to date, and set the stage for the release of Up Up Up Up Up Up the following year. Another new LP, To the Teeth, appeared in 1999 as well, and in mid-2000 came the release of the odds-and-ends compilation Swing Set. Revelling: Reckoning appeared in spring 2001. In 2002, DiFranco trudged on; a road warrior at heart, she issued the double-disc So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter in September, her first live album since 1997's Living in Clip. The So Much Shouting set captured handpicked favorites by DiFranco and three previously unreleased songs.

The following year's Evolve added funk, jazz, and Latin elements to the mix, while 2004's Educated Guess was performed completely by DiFranco. Knuckle Down, co-produced by Joe Henry, arrived in 2005. The eighth disc in her Official Bootleg series, Carnegie Hall (recorded live on April 2, 2002), was released in the spring of 2006, and then -- shortly after the singer announced she was pregnant -- her studio album Reprieve arrived that same August. DiFranco gave birth to her daughter in January 2007 and released another Official Bootleg, Hamburg, Germany, in 2008. Red Letter Year appeared later in 2008, featuring songs inspired by the impending presidential race, DiFranco's baby daughter, and her partner/producer Mike Napolitano. 2012's Which Side Are You On?, the sixteenth studio album from the alternative folk legend, featured twelve new songs, including the rousing title cut, which was a re-working of a song made popular by Pete Seeger, who lent his distinctive voice and banjo to DiFranco's rendition. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Shamelessly IAM ♡'d
Love ani
F**k you and your unsinkable o's
Oh, I actually like the comments--sh e . Is . My. Absolute. Favorite artist, philanthropi s t s / h u m a n i t a r i a n ever! I've never ever seen any man become so successful after creating his independent record label--& not selling out no matter how poor, bc her music had to be her 'own' & 'real'. Neatest best musician/poe t / m o t h e r ever! & hardest working. We <3 'what u do..' ;) , Ani xoxoxos
I love you to baby
As a man, at times I feel like an outsider looking in when listening to her. Not that it's a bad thing. Wish I were 1/3 the creative person she appears to be.
One of the greatest poets of our time...
Shannon.
I adore her subversive persona. She's Joan Baez with a sense of humor and far less pretension.
Ani is my soul mate in a creative sense love her
Ani rocks!!!!
tlcoleman4
Such an amazing writer...mus i c i a n . . . p r o d u c e r . . . w o m a n !
Ani plays that get-fiddle like no other
Oops I mean @ mamahindu, not mamahinduI.
Ps @mamahinduI totally agree. That IS what music should do. You're SO right
Her music is actually MEANINGFUL instead of the music today about love and partying, and drinking.
dlmmsw
I. LOVE. HER.
its like she knows me and whats going on in my life. i can listen to her and either cry my eyes out, laugh hysterically , or scream at the top of my lungs. she gives me goose bumps. isnt that what music should be all about? she gets me through my days.
yes yes yes yes
yazoonative
A great inspiration to me and my friends forever!
She is absolutely Amazing!!!!!
Agree with Nanette Moore.... There is no experience in life the Ani has not covered in one of her songs.
I AGREE
Ani is the Best ARTIST Ever. Period. No competition. AT ALL!!!
she's the best female artist our generation
See you in Feb!!! :)
rfelix75
Been a long time since I have listened to her. Pure self-made musical genius with songs that really make you feel. Love her. She touches my soul! Thank you Ani for being able to musically evoke my heart and soul. Very few artists have the ability (for me) to do that!
Like doesn't even come close... is there a worship button?
Righteous Song smith
choperini117 0
Great, sudden idea! Ani should duet with Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) on a song they ideally write together...t h e y ' r e both such lyrical geniuses, and Oberst has a lot of the same folky-jazzy sound Ani's got going in songs like "Marrow" (just listened to Oberst's "Southern State," for example).
I just recently saw her at the showbox is Seattle after about a 10 year hiatus. Best show ever, like seeing an old friend again. I'm not angry any more. Thanks Ani. :)
becktesch
I've loved her music for years. It has gotten me through tough days and tough times. It has also helped me appreciate the wonders and joys of life. Thank you Ani! Keep up the amazing work!!!
i can't stand the wait for the next cd....can i volunteer all my time until it's release? I am good with kids!
one of my all time favorites- she is amazing in concert
kferrara4
Just discovered her and I'm hooked!
love her music very talented! & inspiring. My girlfriend loves her:)!
tbell23
Love your music Ani
Ani....she totally rocks! There is no situation in life that you will go through that there isn't an Ani song to with it. I swear! Totally true!
the frankmaster general. my 2 girls know all the words
I LOVE YOU ANI! =)
liliana.ross m a n n
inspirationa l , both through her lyrics as well as through her lifestory!
choperini117 0
Listening to Joni Mitchell for the first time, am seeing similarities between her phrasing and Ani's...I think she influenced Ani a bit, even if it's not one of the normally listed "direct influences" (Who is, anyway??!!? Ani's such an enigma...)
love her
I live for Ani I've been listening to her since freshman year of HS when a friend made me a mixed tape of her music i wish i knew where it was just to have it....I still think of that friend when i listen to Ani and told her so when i ran into her the other day....i would love to see Ani in concert
gotta admire this chick. she does things on HER terms.
i've searched and searched for someone better...... a l a s take a guess at what I've found:) Ani.....it's sooo good...mmmmm m m m
choperini117 0
Right now, my favorite artist EVER. Just sayin'.
She makes me proud to be a human, because otherwise I might not be able to appreciate her sonic magic.
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