Ani DiFranco is fascinating in that she is one of the very few people in the music industry who does, literally, whatever the hell she wants-- and that unlike a lot of the others, she gets away with it. This extends beyond not letting others overtly control her, extends into not letting others influence her. You can pick up an Ani DiFranco album and know, know, that not one decision, musical or otherwise, on the entire album was based on a question of whether or not anyone in the entire universe other than Ani DiFranco would like the resulting product. She holds back nothing. She is, in short, free.

Two extremely, extremely important words which are important parts of DiFranco and impact her music greatly but which seem to have been left out of this node entirely are:

"I speak without reservation from what I know and who I am. I do so with the understanding that all people should have the right to offer their voice to the chorus whether the result is harmony or dissonance, the worldsong is a colourless dirge without the differences that distinguish us, and it is that difference which should be celebrated not condemned. Should any part of my music offend you, please do not close your ears to it. Just take what you can use and go on." Ani DiFranco

Biography

Born on 23rd September 1970 in Buffalo, New York, Ani DiFranco (pronounced AHH-nee) is classed by many of her followers as a goddess, a heroine and a musical legend. She is an Urban Folk singer like no other; with her music initially inspired by the influences of established musicians such as Suzanne Vega, Michelle Shocked, The Beatles and Joni Mitchell, DiFranco adds her own touch of alternative flair through incorporating a somewhat 'punk' theme to her tunes - it was once said that 'DiFranco doesn't strum her guitar; she attacks it! '

After aurally adjusting to the rhythm and melodies of her songs, you'll find your attention caught by one of her lyrics. One line of poetic rhyme is all that it takes to spark the need do delve further into DiFranco's mind and the expression of her politics. She sings about women's rights, abortion rights and bisexuality; she takes on corporate power, the death penalty, gun manufacturers; she talks about poverty, racism and religion, and she mixes it all with her own quest for growth, love, observation, art, and individual expression. Through this, DiFranco has become not only an icon to young women worldwide, but also one of the leading forces in progressive politics within modern day America.

DiFranco's performing and singing career started with the gift of her first guitar at the age of five, and by the age of nine she was playing Beatles' cover songs in Buffalo's local bars. However, DiFranco did not start producing her own material until she was fifteen, when she moved out of her mother's apartment and started living on her own. With this new found 'freedom', DiFranco spent many Saturday evenings playing to small audiences at the Essex Street pub, and at sixteen she graduated from the Visual and Performing Arts High School. Another two years of working and playing small gigs took her from Buffalo to New York itself, and offered a much-needed change of scenery, as well as the chance to perform her own material.

By the age of twenty, DiFranco had composed over 100 songs, and decided it was time to release her first album to a small, but already captivated audience. To finance the release of the album and cover the costs of manufacturing and studio time, DiFranco had to resort to emptying her savings account, and also had to borrow money from her friends. After rejecting many offers from major record labels through the unwillingness to deal with 'suits', she made the decision to start her own recording company; 'Righteous Babe Records' - not an easy task in an industry dominated by multinational corporations.

DiFranco not only writes and publishes her own songs, but also produces her own recordings, creates the artwork, and handles every aspect of her projects from initial conception through to its final release. She will employ only like-minded people within the managerial positions of her company, and continually supports local printers and manufacturers in her hometown, alongside utilising a network of independent distributors throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Her skill and talent as a musician is proven on every one of her, to date, 17 albums. But its not just the albums and business professionalism that astound and please her fans; Ani DiFranco is also fantastic in her live performances too;

With a voice that can rock the boat one minute and the cradle the next, Ani DiFranco has a sound like no other. In performance she never ceases to stun and stagger her audience with her famous hundred-fifty watt smile and easy laughter juxtaposed against the brutal poetics of her lyrics and the reckless manhandling of her guitar. She has played to packed houses and rave reviews from Boston's Somerville Theatre to San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, and from Toronto's Phoenix to a twelve-hundred-seat sell-out at Vancouver's Vogue Theatre. As a writer in Tampa exclaimed, "If folk music has a future it's Ani DiFranco." www.columbia.edu/~marg/ani

Fame and fortune did not appear for DiFranco overnight, and even after selling some two and a half million records, being nominated for two Grammy Awards and being voted one of VH1's '100 Greatest Women in Rock', she has stayed tuned to her true folk roots and somewhat humble beginnings. In an interview with Ms. magazine, DiFranco was listed amongst the '21 feminists for the 21st Century' - lauded mainly for her financial acumen, not for her talent as a musical performer and songwriter. DiFranco's reply to the interviewer clarifies once and for all that she is folksinger, not a financier;

I choose relative statistical mediocrity over fame and fortune, because I have a bigger purpose in mind. Last thing I want to do is feed the machine. If I drop dead tomorrow, please tell me my gravestone won't read: Ani D., CEO. Please let it read "songwriter musicmaker, storyteller, freak." Ani DiFranco, interview with Ms. magazine

Discography
(non-exhaustive)

1990 Ani DiFranco
1991 Not So Soft
1992 Imperfectly
1993 Puddle Dive
1993 Like I Said
1994 Out Of Range
1995 Not A Pretty Girl
1996 Dilate
1996 More Joy Less Shame
1997 Living In Clip
1997 The Past Didn't Go Anywhere (with Utah Phillips)
1998 Little Plastic Castle
1999 Fellow Workers (with Utah Phillips)
1999 To The Teeth
1999 Up Up Up Up Up Up
2000 Swing Set (EP)
2001 Revelling/Reckoning
2002 So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter
2003 Evolve
2004 Educated Guess
2005 Knuckle Down

Also appearing on....
(non-exhaustive)

1995 Silverwolf Homeless Project -Various Instruments, Producer
1995 The Best Of Mountain Stage Live, Vol. 8 - Various Guitar, Vocals
1996 Women Live From Mountain Stage - Various Guitar, Vocals
1997 Live from 6A: Late Night with Conan O'Brian - Various Guitar, Vocals
1997 Amazing Grace - Various Acoustic, Bass, Arranger, Bongos, Steel Guitar, Organ, Vocals, Producer, Sampling
1997 Divine Divas: A World of Women - Various Guitar, Arranger, Vocals, Sampling
1997 The Jackal Soundtrack - Various, Producer
1997 My Best Friend's Wedding Soundtrack - Various, Producer
1997 All Over Me Soundtrack - Various, Producer
1997 Hunger - Janis Ian Bass, Background Vocals, Producer, Sampling
1997 Charity of Night - Bruce Cockburn - Background Vocals
1998 Fifty Eggs - Dan Bern - Organ, Guitar, Bass, Background Vocals, Producer, Engineer, Mixing
1998 KCRW Rare on Air, Vol. 4 - Various Guitar, Vocals
1998 Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger - Various Bass, Guitar, Organ, Vocals, Producer
1998 Zero Effect Soundtrack - Various, Producer
1999 Fish-Tree-Water Blues - Various Guitar, Vocals, Producer, Mixing
1999 Better Than Chocolate Soundtrack - Various, Producer, Mixing
1999 Rave un2 the Joy Fantastic - Prince - Guitar
2000 Dial M-A-C-E-O - Maceo Parker - Guitar, Vocals

Bibliography
(non-exhaustive)

Ani DiFranco: Righteous Babe by Raffaele Quirino
Ani DiFranco's career as a singer-songwriter, recording artist, and independent label 'executive' for Righteous Babe Records has given new meaning to the word 'alternative'. Ms. magazine has called her the "Lone Ranger of the music business," while VILLAGE VOICE has called Righteous Babe Records "the most successful cottage industry in the history of Indiedom." With successive Grammy Awards nominations for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary Folk Recording, she has become an alternative folk rock star. Despite her growing fame, Ani remains fiercely independent and outrageous. Quarry Press, 31st May 2000

Films starring Ani DiFranco
(non-exhaustive)

Mississippi: River of Song (Volumes 01- 04)
Thrash folk singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco serves as narrator, bringing a warm enthusiasm to her connective commentary, but much of the underlying historical, cultural, and personal insight comes directly from the musicians. Sam Sutherland

http://www.columbia.edu/~marg/ani/
http://www.anidifrancopalace.homestead.com/bio.html
http://www.ladysixstring.com/artists/folk/AniDiFranco/
http://www.progressive.org/int0500.htm
Information is also taken from a biographical insert within Ani's first album, Ani DiFranco

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