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Ani DiFranco: “I love people who are brave in showing themselves”

Ani DiFranco
Danny Clinch
Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco began recording and self-releasing her music as a 20-year-old in Buffalo, New York in 1990. 34 years later she is widely considered to be a feminist icon. But in many ways, she emerged iconic, fully formed and fearless.

A facile lyricist with a biting honesty, she played guitar with a virtuosic, rhythmic style. And she was ahead of her time as an independent artist who owned all her own masters and controlled most of the major aspects of her career. She’s sometimes called the mother of the DIY movement.

DiFranco has released all of her albums (over twenty) on her Righteous Babe record label. The label has also put out projects for other distinguished singer songwriters including Andrew Bird, Utah Phillips, Arto Lindsay, and Anaïs Mitchell whose own Hadestown project was first released as an album on Righteous Babe before being transformed into the Broadway hit that it is today.

Ani Difranco’s most recent studio album Revolutionary Love came out in 2021. In 2022 she published a picture book for children called The Knowing which she described as “an Ani DiFranco-style lullaby, inviting young readers to ponder the distinction between outer forms of identity and the inner light of consciousness.” And she will join the cast of Hadestown on Broadway in February, playing the role of Persephone, a part she sang on Anais Mitchell’s original Righteous Babe recording in 2010. So it’s both her Broadway debut and a full circle moment.

In recent years Righteous Babe has released anniversary editions of Ani’s early recordings. In 2022 she revisited the 1998 album Little Plastic Castle, sharing anecdotes and memories of the making of it on social media, and playing some of the songs live. Her memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, was published in 2019.

Here she talks about how she sees her work today (“my job is connecting with people”), her early career (“it was relentless”), avoiding being labeled or boxed in (“I feel like a survivor of labels”), her idea of success (“successful artists are not necessarily the best-selling”), raising children in an era of performative identity, practicing revolutionary love and why it’s easier to tell the truth than to hide yourself.


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Leo Sidran is a Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist musician, producer, arranger, composer, recording artist and podcast host based in Brooklyn, New York.