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Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco performing at the Ancienne Belgique in 2007
Background information
Birth name Angela Marie DiFranco
Born September 23, 1970 (1970-09-23) (age 39) in Buffalo, New York
Genres Folk rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Guitar, bass guitar, vocals, percussion, piano
Years active 1990–present
Labels Righteous Babe
Website www.righteousbabe.com

Ani DiFranco (pronounced /ˈɑːniː/) (born Angela Maria DiFranco on September 23, 1970) is an American Grammy Award-winning [1] singer, guitarist, and songwriter. She is a prolific artist, having released over twenty albums,[2] and is widely celebrated as a feminist icon.[3][4][5]

Contents

Biography

DiFranco was born in Buffalo, New York, to mother Elizabeth and father Dante, who both attended and met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[6][7][8] She started playing Beatles covers at local bars and busking with her guitar teacher, Michael Meldrum,[9] at the age of nine.

In 1989, DiFranco started her own record company, Righteous Records (renamed Righteous Babe Records in 1994).[2] Prior to the renaming of Righteous Records to Righteous Babe Records, DiFranco worked with manager Dale Anderson, a writer for the Buffalo News, who started another record label called Hot Wings Records after the two parted ways. Hot Wings released the work of Buffalo area female musical performers with styles similar to that of DiFranco. Early releases of her CDs produced prior to 1994 are labeled with the original Righteous Records label. Her self-titled debut album was issued on the label in the winter of 1990. Later, she relocated to New York City, where she took poetry classes at The New School and toured vigorously.

DiFranco identifies herself as bisexual,[10][11] and has written songs about love and sex with both genders. She addressed the controversy about her sexuality with the song "In or Out". In 1998, she married sound engineer Andrew Gilchrist in a Unitarian Universalist service in Canada, overseen by U.U. minister and renowned folk singer Utah Phillips. Numerous media sources reported that her fans felt betrayed by her union with a man.[12] DiFranco and Gilchrist divorced five years later.

In 1998, DiFranco's drummer, Andy Stochansky, left the band to pursue a solo career as a singer-songwriter. Their rapport during live shows is showcased on the 1997 album Living in Clip.

DiFranco's father died early in the summer of 2004.[13] In July 2005, DiFranco developed tendinitis and took a hiatus from touring. DiFranco had toured almost continuously in the preceding fifteen years, only taking brief breaks to record studio albums. Her 2005 tour concluded with an appearance at the FloydFest World Music and Genre Crossover festival in Floyd, Virginia. DiFranco returned to touring in late April 2006, including a performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 28 and a performance at the renowned Calgary Folk Music Festival on July 30, 2006.

DiFranco gave birth to a daughter, Petah Lucia DiFranco Napolitano,[14] at her Buffalo home on January 20, 2007. The child's father is DiFranco's new husband, Mike Napolitano,[15] the co-producer of DiFranco's 2006 release Reprieve. Essentially a full-time resident of New Orleans, DiFranco is heavily influenced by the city's post-Katrina plight.[16][17]

She has continued touring into 2008 with a backing band consisting of Todd Sickafoose on upright bass, Allison Miller on drums, and Mike Dillon on percussion and vibes. DiFranco returned to the Calgary Folk Music Festival in July 2008.

Napolitano and DiFranco wed in January 2009 in Hawaii.

Ani DiFranco, RZA, and Steve Albini at
The New Yorker festival in September 2005.

Recognition

On July 21, 2006, DiFranco received the "Woman of Courage Award"[18] at the National Organization for Women (NOW) Conference and Young Feminist Summit in Albany, New York. Past winners have included singer and actress Barbra Streisand and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. DiFranco is one of the first musicians to receive the award, given each year to a woman who has set herself apart by her contributions to the feminist movement.

DiFranco has been toasted by the Buffalo News as the "Buffalo's leading lady of rock music." The News further said:

"Through the Righteous Babe Foundation, DiFranco has backed various grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility."[19]

Since 2003, DiFranco has been nominated four consecutive times for Best Recording Package at the Grammy Awards, one of which she won, in 2004, for Educated Guess.

Musical style and the "folk" label

DiFranco's guitar playing is often characterized by a signature staccato style,[20][21] rapid fingerpicking and many alternate tunings. She delivers many of her lines in a speaking style notable for its rhythmic variation. Her lyrics, which often include alliteration, metaphor, word play and a more or less gentle irony, have also received praise for their sophistication.

Although DiFranco's music has been classified as both folk rock and alternative rock, she has reached across genres since her earliest albums. DiFranco has collaborated with a wide range of artists including musician Prince, who recorded two songs with DiFranco in 1999: "Providence" on her To the Teeth album, and "I Love U, but I Don't Trust U Anymore" on Prince's Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic album: folk musician and social activist Utah Phillips (on The Past Didn't Go Anywhere in 1996 and Fellow Workers in 1999), funk and soul jazz musician Maceo Parker and rapper Corey Parker. She has used a variety of instruments and styles: brass instrumentation was prevalent in 1998's Little Plastic Castle, a simple walking bass in her 1997 cover of Hal David and Burt Bacharach's "Wishin' and Hopin'", strings on the 1997 live album Living in Clip and 2004's Knuckle Down, and electronics and synthesisers in 1999's To the Teeth and in 2006's Reprieve.

DiFranco herself noted that "folk music is not an acoustic guitar — that's not where the heart of it is. I use the word 'folk' in reference to punk music and rap music. It's an attitude, it's an awareness of one's heritage, and it's a community. It's subcorporate music that gives voice to different communities and their struggle against authority."[22]

Lyrics, politics and religion

Although much of DiFranco's material is autobiographical, it is often also strongly political. Many of her songs are concerned with contemporary social issues such as racism, sexism, sexual abuse, homophobia, reproductive rights, poverty, and war. The combination of personal and political is partially responsible for DiFranco's early popularity among politically active college students, particularly those of the left wing, some of whom set up fan pages on the web to document DiFranco's career as early as 1994. DiFranco's rapid rise in popularity in the mid-1990s was fueled mostly by personal contact and word of mouth rather than mainstream media.

DiFranco has expressed political views outside of her music. During the 2000 U.S. presidential election, she actively supported and voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.[23][24][25] She supported Dennis Kucinich in the 2004 and 2008 Democratic primaries. Kucinich appeared with her at a number of concerts across the country during both primary seasons.[26][27] DiFranco went on to perform at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Early in her career, DiFranco considered herself an atheist. On the subject of religion, DiFranco has stated:

"Well, I'm not a religious person myself. I'm an atheist. I think religion serves a lot of different purposes in people's lives, and I can recognize the value of that, you know, the value of ceremony, the value of community, or even just having a forum to get together and talk about ideas, about morals — that's a cool concept. But then, of course, institutional religions are so problematic."[28]

Since becoming a mom and releasing her Red Letter Year album in 2009, Ani has talked in concert about "finding religion". At concerts she has stated that her song "The Atom" is an "alternative Christian proposal". In "The Atom" she sings ”Oh holy is the atom/ The truly intelligent design/ To which all of evolution/ Is graciously aligned.” In Reno in 2008 prior to singing "The Atom", she said "I've kind of gotten religion lately, I took a sweet religion, one I am sort of familiar with and sprayed a can of patriarchy-off and this is what I came up with."

Label independence

Ownership of Righteous Babe Records allows DiFranco a great deal of artistic freedom. For example, on her 2004 album Educated Guess, DiFranco played all of the instruments, provided all of the vocals, and recorded the album by herself at her home on an analog 8-track reel to reel. She was also involved in much of the artwork and design for the packaging. The only other person involved in the record's musical production was Greg Calbi, who mastered it.[29]

References to her independence from major labels appear occasionally in DiFranco's songs, including "The Million You Never Made" (Not A Pretty Girl), which discusses the act of turning down a lucrative contract, "The Next Big Thing" (Not So Soft), which describes an imagined meeting with a label head-hunter who evaluates the singer based on her looks, and "Napoleon" (Dilate), which sympathizes sarcastically with an unnamed friend who did sign with a label.

DiFranco has occasionally joined with Prince in discussing publicly the problems associated with major record companies. Righteous Babe Records employs a number of people in her hometown of Buffalo. In a 1997 open letter to Ms. magazine[30] she expressed displeasure that what she considers a way to ensure her own artistic freedom was seen by others solely in terms of its financial success.

Recent work

On September 11, 2007, she released the first retrospective of her career, titled Canon and for the first time, a collection of poetry in a book titled Verses.

DiFranco's album Reprieve was released on August 8, 2006. It was previously leaked on iTunes for several hours around July 1, 2006, due to an error saying it was released in 2002.[31] DiFranco performed with Cyndi Lauper on "Sisters of Avalon", a track from Lauper's 2005 collection The Body Acoustic.

She also collaborated with fellow folk singer Dar Williams on "Comfortably Numb", a Pink Floyd cover song from Williams' 2005 album, My Better Self.

In 2002 her rendition of Greg Brown's "The Poet Game" appeared on Going Driftless: An Artists' Tribute to Greg Brown.

Red Letter Year is DiFranco's most recent studio album, released on September 30, 2008. Says DiFranco about the album:

“When I listen to my new record, I hear a very relaxed me, which I think has been absent in a lot of my recorded canon. Now I feel like I’m in a really good place. My partner Mike Napolitano co-produced this record – my guitar and voice have never sounded better, and that’s because of him. I’ve got this great band and crew. And my baby, she teaches me how to just be in my skin, to do less and be more.”[32]

Discography

Studio albums

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Live albums

EPs

Demos

  • 1989 - Demo tape (unreleased)

Videos

  • 2002 - Render: Spanning Time with Ani DiFranco
  • 2004 - Trust
  • 2008 - Live at Babeville

Poetry

  • 2004 - "Self-evident: poesie e disegni"
  • 2007 - Verses

Other contributions

  • 2004 – WFUV: City Folk Live VII – "Bliss Like This"

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.righteousbabe.com/ani/evolve/grammy.asp Evolve Wins the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package
  2. ^ a b Gene Stout (August 21, 2006). "DiFranco makes time for radical sabbatical: Indie rocker records new album and prepares for motherhood". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=486202. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  3. ^ "Sound Bites". Daily Texan. September 17, 2002. http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2002/09/17/Entertainment/Sound.Bites-499123.shtml. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  4. ^ Lori Leibovich (March 27, 1998). "Mother Who Think: Hey hey, ho ho, the matriarchy's got to go". Salon. http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1998/03/27feature.html. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  5. ^ "Fame hasn't changed the way DiFranco works: Independently". The Sacramento Bee. April 14, 2000. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SB&p_theme=sb&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB047DB661B7CA7&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved 2008-01-02.  
  6. ^ Ani DiFranco
  7. ^ Ani DiFranco Biography - Discography, Music, Lyrics, Album, CD, Career, Famous Works, and Awards
  8. ^ Dante Americo DiFranco Memorial Page
  9. ^ Notes on the album Open Ended Question
  10. ^ Ani DiFranco, Folksinger and Entrepreneur by Kris Scott Marti, November 28, 2004
  11. ^ [1] by Achy Obejas, The Advocate, December 9, 1997
  12. ^ Biography of Ani DiFranco on gotpoetry.com
  13. ^ "Still Fighting" Review in Paste. September 2006.
  14. ^ "Introducing Petah Lucia DiFranco Napolitano" Celebrity Baby Blog. July 3, 2007.
  15. ^ Dowd, Kathy Ehrich. "Singer Ani DiFranco Welcomes a Daughter." People. January 23, 2007.
  16. ^ Huff, Quentin B. Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year. Accessed 18 December 2008.
  17. ^ Farley, Christopher, John. A life in Song. Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2008. Accessed 18 December 2008.
  18. ^ Rolling Stone news
  19. ^ Hearey, Owen (2006-07-22). "'Righteous Babe' announces she is pregnant". Buffalo News: pp. D1. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:AWNB:BNWB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=1130D77E50D232B8&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0D0CB57AB53DF815. Retrieved 2008-05-11.  
  20. ^ Facts about Ani
  21. ^ Ani DiFranco, Living in Clip by Jon Steltenpohl
  22. ^ Rock Troubadours by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
  23. ^ HackWriters.com article: "Ani DiFranco interview".
  24. ^ Rolling Stone magazine article: "Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith Go Green at NYC Nader Rally - Nader rally draws Vedder, DiFranco to Madison Square Garden"
  25. ^ Salon.com article: "The Nader Letters".
  26. ^ Brian Orloff (September 16, 2004). "DiFranco Knuckles Down". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/anidifranco/articles/story/6485503/difranco_knuckles_down. Retrieved 2008-04-03.  
  27. ^ Lauren Gitlin (August 27, 2003). "Ani, Willie Support Kucinich". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/anidifranco/articles/story/5935166/ani_willie_support_kucinich. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  28. ^ Rothschild, Matthew (2000-05-09). "Ani DiFranco — folk singer — Interview". The Progressive. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1295/is_5_64/ai_61963258/pg_5. Retrieved 2008-04-10.  
  29. ^ Educated guess article
  30. ^ Interview with Ms. Magazine
  31. ^ iTunes Mislabeled Release Date as 2002
  32. ^ [2] Shock Records: "Ani DiFranco to Release New Album Red Letters" Retrieved on 08-15-08
  33. ^ MMguide.musicmatch.com Retrieved on 06-06-07

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ani DiFranco (born Angela Marie Difranco on September 23, 1970) is a popular folk-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Sourced

  • I love all those great 'f' words - feminism, folk music..
    • from a 2003 interview with MuchMusic
  • In any marginalized community, whether people identify themselves or not affects us all.
  • I believe in that step of not just making revolutionary music but making it in a way that challenges the system, Especially in this day and age when the tools for producing and distributing are more and more accessible to the average Joe and Josephine. The possibility of emancipation and control and independence is so much greater now.

Song Lyrics

  • There's this brutal imperial power, that my passport says I represent.
    But it will never represent where my heart lives, only vaguely where it went.
    • Animal
  • I don't always feel lucky, but I'm smart enough to try.
    • Grand Canyon
  • They're gonna be mad at us.
    They're gonna be mad at me and you.
    They're gonna be mad at us and all the things we wanna do.
    • Shameless
  • I used to be a superhero.
    No one could touch me, not even myself.
    You are like a phone booth that I somehow stumbled into,
    And now look at me, I am just like everybody else.
    • Superhero
  • I am still praying for revolution.
    • Fixing Her Hair
  • Some of life's best lessons are learned at the worst times.
    • Lost Woman Song
  • Because the world owes me nothing
    And we owe each other the world.
    • Joyful Girl
  • I am writing graffiti on your body.
    I am drawing the story of how hard we tried.
    • Both Hands
  • Somedays the line I walk turns out to be straight -
    Other days the line tends to deviate.
    • In or Out
  • And their eyes are all asking
    Are you in or are you out?
    And I think, oh man
    What is this about?
    Tonight you can't put me
    Up on any shelf
    Cuz I came here alone
    And I'm gonna leave by myself.
    • In or Out
  • They say that the truth will set you free
    But then again, so will a lie...
    It depends if you're trying to get to the promised land
    Or if you're just trying to get by.
    • Promised Land
  • I’m going to go ahead and go boldly
    Cuz a little bird told me
    That jumping is easy
    That falling is fun
    Right up ‘til you hit the sidewalk
    Shivering and stunned.
    • Swan Dive
  • So we're led by denial like lambs to the slaughter
    Serving empires of style and carbonated sugar water
    And the old farm road's a four-lane that leads to the mall
    And our dreams are all guillotines waiting to fall.
    • Subdivision
  • My distraction's my defense against this lack of inspiration
    Against this slow deflation
    Yeah the further the horizon
    The more it holds my gaze
    The foreground's out of focus but you know I kinda hope it's just a phase
    Just a phase.
    • Phase
  • They can call me crazy if I fail
    All the chance that I need
    Is one in a million
    And they can call me brilliant
    If I succeed…
    • Swan Dive
  • The windows of my soul are made of one way glass
    Don't bother looking into my eyes
    If there's something you want to know - just ask.
    • Willing to Fight
  • Because I know the biggest crime
    Is just to throw up your hands
    And say "This has nothing to do with me,
    I just want to live as comfortably as I can.
    • Willing to Fight
  • You've got your whole life to do something,
    And that's not very long.
    So why don't you give me a call
    When you're willing to fight
    For what you think is real,
    For what you think is right.
    • Willing to Fight
  • Girl, next time he wants to know
    What your problem is
    Next time he wants to know
    Where the anger comes from
    Just tell him this time the problem's his
    Tell him the anger just comes
    It just comes.
    • Hide and Seek
  • And God help you if you are a phoenix, and you dare to rise up from the ash.
    A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy, while you're just flying past.
    • 32 Flavors
  • Now let's get talking: reefer madness. Like some arrogant government can't,
    By any stretch of the imagination, outlaw a plant.
    • Evolve
  • So I walk like I'm on a mission cuz that's the way I groove.
    I got more and more to do, I got less and less to prove.
    It took me too long to realize that I don't take good pictures
    Cuz I have the kind of beauty that moves.
    • Evolve
  • And we hold these truths to be self-evident:
    Number one-- George W. Bush is not president.
    Number two-- America is not a true democracy.
    And, Number three-- the media is not fooling me.
    • Self-Evident
  • Now I wonder who is gonna be president: Tweedle Dumb, or Tweedle Dumber--
    And who is gonna have the big block buster box office this summer.
    • Fuel
  • Maybe you don't like your job, maybe you didn't get enough sleep--
    But nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep.
    Maybe you just had the worst day of your life;
    Well, you know, there's no escape.
    That's no excuse. Just suck up and be nice.
    • Pixie
  • My country tis of thee,
    To take swings at each other on talk-show TV.
    • Tis of Thee
  • Art is why I get up in the morning; my definition ends there.
    You know it doesn't seem fair,
    That I'm living for something I can't even define.
    And there you are right there, in the mean time.
    • Out of Habit
  • My thighs have been involved in many accidents,
    And now I can't get insured,
    And I don't need to be lured by you.
    My cunt is built like a wound that won't heal,
    And now you don't have to ask
    Because you know how I feel.
    • Out of Habit
  • So my heart finally broke. It was so long bent.
    And it broke in three places when it finally went.
    It wanted only to say what it meant.
    So it suffered every punishment.
    • You Each Time
  • 'Course numb is an old hat, old as my oldest memories.
    See that one's my mother, and that one's my father, and that one in the hat, that's me.
    It's a skill I'd hoped to abandon, when I got out on the open road,
    But any more pent up emotion and I think I'm gonna explode.
    • Studying Stones
  • And I was shocked to see the mistakes of each generation will just fade like a radio station, if we drive out of range.
    • Out of Range
  • If you're not angry, you're just stupid, or you don't care.
    • Out of Range
  • There's a crowd of people harbored in every person, there are so many roles that we play.
    And you've decided to love me for eternity. I'm still deciding who I want to be today"
    • Light of Some Kind
  • Let's grow old and die together. Let's do it now.
    • The Waiting Song
  • When I need to wipe my face, I use the back of my hand,
    And I like to take up space just because I can,
    And I use my dress to wipe up my drink.
    I care less and less what people think.
    • Dilate
  • So I’ll walk the plank and I’ll jump with a smile.
    If I’m gonna go down, I’m gonna do it with style,
    and you won't see me surrender, you won't hear me confess,
    'Cuz you've left me with nothing, but i've worked with less.
    • Dilate
  • You know
    Taken out of context I must
    Seem so strange.
    • Firedoor
  • And everything seems to have gone terribly wrong that can.
    But one breath at a time is an acceptable plan,
    She tells herself.
    • Tamburitza Lingua
  • My life may not be something special
    But it's never been lived before.
    • Brief Bus Stop
  • We discovered we are both pleasantly furious half of the time,
    When we're not just toeing the line.
    • Brief Bus Stop
  • I was blessed with a birth and a death, and I guess I just want some say in-between.
    • Talk To Me Now
  • Freedom and democracy,
    That's the word from Washington every day.
    Put America to sleep with warm milk and clichés,
    And people are expendable along the way.
    • Dog Coffee
  • They put you in your place, and they tell you to behave
    But no one can be free until we're all on even grade.
    • The Story
  • Life is a b movie.
    It's stupid and it's strange,
    A directionless story,
    And the dialogue is lame.
    But in the he said, she said,
    Sometimes there's some poetry,
    If you turn your back long enough,
    And let it happen naturally.
    • Hell, Yeah
  • I fight with love, and I laugh with rage.
    You've gotta live light enough to see the humor,
    And long enough to see some change.
    • Pick Yer Nose
  • I remember now how our bright spring green deepened.
    With the years the seasons changed,
    And we were lush as the underside of August.
    • How Long Can It Last
  • Love sets fire to your schedule,
    And then calls an end to time.
    • Star Matter
  • I still define myself by the places that I've been.
    • North Main Street
  • I always wanted to be commander-in-chief of my one-woman army,
    But I can envision the mediocrity of my finest hour.
    • Not So Soft
  • I know there is strength in the differences between us,
    And I know there is comfort where we overlap.
    • Overlap
  • I think you're the least fucked-up person I've ever met,
    And that may be as close to the real thing as I'm ever gonna get.
    • The Diner
  • Sometimes the beauty is easy.
    Sometimes you don't have to try at all.
    Sometimes you can hear the wind blow in a handshake.
    Sometimes there's poetry written right on the bathroom wall.
    • Good, Bad, Ugly
  • She says “Do I know you?” I say “Well, no, not biblically,
    But I've been waiting for you to come and talk to me.
    I have been playing too many of those boy-girl games.”
    She says, “Honey, you are safe here. This is a girl-girl thing.”
    • If It Isn't Her
  • I am looking for the holes,
    The holes in your jeans
    Because I want to know:
    Are they worn out in the seat,
    Or are they worn out in the knees?
    • Looking for the Holes
  • When we patch things up,
    They say a job well done.
    But when we ask the question why
    Where did the rips come from?,
    They say we are subversive,
    And extreme, of course.
    We are just trying to track a problem to its source.
    • Looking for the Holes
  • I always feel I have to take a stand,
    And there's always someone on hand
    To hate me for standing there.
    I always feel I have to open my mouth,
    And every time I do, I offend someone, somewhere.
    • What If No One's Watching
  • But what if no one's watching?
    What if when we're dead, we are just dead?
    What if there's no time to lose?
    What if there's things we gotta do,
    Things that need to be said?
    • What If No One's Watching
  • We have to be able to criticize what we love,
    Say what we have to say,
    'Cause if you're not trying to make something better,
    Then as far as I can tell, you are just in the way.
    • What If No One's Watching
  • People used to make records, as in the record of an event, the event of people playing music in a room, and now everything's cross-marketing, its about sunglasses and shoes, or guns and drugs that you choose."
    • Fuel

External links

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