DiFranco was born in Buffalo, New York, to a Jewish-American mother, Elizabeth, and an Italian-American father, Dante, who both attended and met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She started playing Beatles covers at local bars and busking with her guitar teacher, Michael Meldrum, at the age of nine.
In 1989, DiFranco started her own record company, Righteous Records (renamed Righteous Babe Records in 1994). 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, 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. 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. In July 2005, DiFranco developed tendonitis 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, at her Buffalo home on January 20, 2007. The child’s father is DiFranco’s new husband, Mike Napolitano, 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.
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.
On July 21, 2006, DiFranco received the “Woman of Courage Award” 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.”
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, 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.”
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. 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. 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.”
Since becoming a mother and releasing her Red Letter Year album in 2009, DiFranco 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 h 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.”
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.
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 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.
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. 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:
hen 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 in a really good place. My partner Mike Napolitano co-produced this record my guitar and voice have never sounded better, and that because of him. Ie 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]
Problems listening to this file? See media help.
1990 – Ani DiFranco
1991 – Not So Soft
1992 – Imperfectly
1993 – Puddle Dive
1994 – Like I Said: Songs 1990-91
1994 – Out of Range
1995 – Not a Pretty Girl
1996 – Dilate
1998 – Little Plastic Castle
1999 – Up Up Up Up Up Up
1999 – To the Teeth
2001 – Revelling/Reckoning
2003 – Evolve
2004 – Educated Guess
2005 – Knuckle Down
2006 – Reprieve
2007 – Canon (compilation)
2008 – Red Letter Year
1994 – An Acoustic Evening With
1994 – Women in (E)motion (German Import)
1997 – Living in Clip
2002 – So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter
2004 – Atlanta – 10.9.03 (Official Bootleg series)
2004 – Sacramento – 10.25.03 (Official Bootleg series)
2004 – Portland – 4.7.04 (Official Bootleg series)
2005 – Boston – 11.16.03 (Official Bootleg series)
2005 – Chicago – 1.17.04 (Official Bootleg series)
2005 – Madison – 1.25.04 (Official Bootleg series)
2005 – Rome – 11.15.04 (Official Bootleg series)
2006 – Carnegie Hall – 4.6.02 (Official Bootleg series – available in stores)
2007 – Boston – 11.10.06 (Official Bootleg series)
2008 – Hamburg – 10.18.07 (Official Bootleg series)
2009 – Saratoga, CA – 9.18.06 (Official Bootleg series)
2009 – Chicago – 9.22.07 (Official Bootleg series)
1996 – More Joy, Less Shame
1999 – Little Plastic Remixes (limited distribution)
2000 – Swing Set
1989 – Demo tape (unreleased)
2002 – Render: Spanning Time with Ani DiFranco
2004 – Trust
2008 – Live at Babeville
2004 – “Self-evident: poesie e disegni”
2007 – Verses
2004 WFUV: City Folk Live VII “Bliss Like This”
Righteous Babe Records
Category:Righteous Babe artists
^ http://www.righteousbabe.com/ani/evolve/grammy.asp Evolve Wins the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package
^ 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.
^ “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.
^ 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.
^ “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.
^ Ani DiFranco
^ Ani DiFranco Biography – Discography, Music, Lyrics, Album, CD, Career, Famous Works, and Awards
^ Dante Americo DiFranco Memorial Page
^ Notes on the album Open Ended Question
^ Ani DiFranco, Folksinger and Entrepreneur by Kris Scott Marti, November 28, 2004
^ by Achy Obejas, The Advocate, December 9, 1997
^ Biography of Ani DiFranco on gotpoetry.com
^ “Still Fighting” Review in Paste. September 2006.
^ “Introducing Petah Lucia DiFranco Napolitano” Celebrity Baby Blog. July 3, 2007.
^ Dowd, Kathy Ehrich. “Singer Ani DiFranco Welcomes a Daughter.” People. January 23, 2007.
^ Huff, Quentin B. Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year. Accessed 18 December 2008.
^ Farley, Christopher, John. A life in Song. Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2008. Accessed 18 December 2008.
^ Rolling Stone news
^ 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.
^ Facts about Ani
^ Ani DiFranco, Living in Clip by Jon Steltenpohl
^ Rock Troubadours by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
^ HackWriters.com article: “Ani DiFranco interview”.
^ Rolling Stone magazine article: “Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith Go Green at NYC Nader Rally – Nader rally draws Vedder, DiFranco to Madison Square Garden”
^ Salon.com article: “The Nader Letters”.
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ Educated guess article
^ Interview with Ms. Magazine
^ iTunes Mislabeled Release Date as 2002
^ Shock Records: “Ani DiFranco to Release New Album Red Letters” Retrieved on 08-15-08
^ MMguide.musicmatch.com Retrieved on 06-06-07
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ani DiFranco
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ani DiFranco
The Righteous Babe homepage
Ani DiFranco at the Internet Movie Database
Ani DiFranco discography at MusicBrainz
Ani DiFranco at Rolling Stone
Ani DiFranco on Whole Wheat Radio
v d e
Ani DiFranco Not So Soft Imperfectly Puddle Dive Out of Range Not a Pretty Girl Dilate Little Plastic Castle Up Up Up Up Up Up To the Teeth Revelling/Reckoning Evolve Educated Guess Knuckle Down Reprieve Red Letter Year
An Acoustic Evening With Living in Clip Women in (E)motion So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter Atlanta – 10.9.03 Sacramento – 10.25.03 Portland – 4.7.04 Boston – 11.16.03 Chicago – 1.17.04 Madison – 1.25.04 Rome – 11.15.04 Carnegie Hall – 4.6.02 Boston – 11.10.06 Hamburg, Germany – 10.18.07 Saratoga, CA – 9.18.06 Chicago – 9.22.07
Like I Said: Songs 199091 Canon
More Joy, Less Shame Little Plastic Remixes Swing Set
With Utah Phillips
The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere Fellow Workers
Righteous Babe Records
DiFranco, Angela Marie (birth name)
musician and activist
DATE OF BIRTH
September 23, 1970 (1970-09-23) (age 39)
PLACE OF BIRTH
Buffalo, New York
DATE OF DEATH
PLACE OF DEATH
Categories: 1970 births | Living people | American composers | American female singers | American folk guitarists | American singer-songwriters | American female guitarists | American folk singers | Feminist artists | Anti-corporate activists | Bisexual musicians | Musicians from New York | Italian Americans | Italian-American musicians | American Jews | Italian-American Jews | Righteous Babe artists | American buskers | People from Buffalo, New York | LGBT musicians from the United States | LGBT composers | Grammy Award winnersHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from June 2009 | Wikipedia external links cleanup | Wikipedia spam cleanup