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DiFranco, Ani

Ani DiFranco

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Wide Range of Styles and Fans

Started Her Own Label

Inherently Political

Collaborative Spirit

Selected discography

Sources

Punk/folk singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco attained musical heroine status at the age of 25 among both fans and critics with her seventh release, Not A Pretty Girl, in 1995, and even greater popular success with Dilate, in 1996. She told Spin’s James Patrick Herman, “People expect my kind of in-your-face approach from a punk, not some chick with an acoustic guitar. I prefer the power that comes with walking on stage with a little piece of wood… that’s more punk rock than making a lot of noise.”

Her acoustic performances are part mosh-pit party, part hoedown, and part folk-hootenanny, punctuated with stage dives, broken guitar strings, and lyrics that cover issues like abortion, body image baggage, bi-sexuality, death, and fidelity. DiFranco alternates between a smoldering warmth and an angry explosion of sound, and defies categorization by blending the forth-rightness and anger of punk rock with the simplicity, beauty, and poetry of folk music. She uses press-on nails reinforced with electrical tape when performing to bang-strum on her acoustic guitar, and performs both as a solo artist and with a backing band (though the band often consists of only drummer Andy Stochansky as musical back-up).

Wide Range of Styles and Fans

DiFranco’s fans reveal her widespread appeal as they are as diverse and hard to peg as her style, ranging in age from teenaged girls to the middle-aged, and from alternative rock fans, to folk music and hardcore punk rock enthusiasts.

With a broad emotional palette at her disposal, DiFranco’s vocal range fluctuates between gritty and airy. Rolling Stone’s Fred Goodman described her as “A wonder to behold: a spiky-haired volcano … (whose) songs, though mostly about independence and romance … often take unexpected, jarring turns—such as when she recites a poem about an abortion or sings about being felt up in the subway.” She told Out magazine’s Ray Rogers, “I just sing my goofy songs about my goofy little life”, underscoring the fact that she’s her own person and without regard for those who might take offense at her uncensored output.

DiFranco was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1970, and began playing music at age nine when her parents bought her a Beatles songbook and an acoustic guitar. Within a few years, she was singing “Yesterday” at local coffeehouses with the guidance of a local folk singer. As Rolling Stone’s Evelyn McDonnell put it, “She met a man named Mike, a 30-year-old ’degenerate folk-singer barfly’ at a guitar store in Buffalo, NY. They began playing together and hanging out with other singer/songwriters, who would come up from New York to play.” DiFranco’s parents were absorbed in their own problems at the time, and DiFranco told McDonnell, “(They) were just happy from the beginning

For the Record…

Born in 1970 in Buffalo, NY, to Elizabeth (an architect) and Dante (a research engineer) DiFranco; married Andrew Gilchrist (a sound engineer), 1998; separated, 2003.

Began playing music at age nine; sang in local coffeehouses starting at age eleven; moved out on her own at age 15 to pursue a career in music; at the age of 18 moved to New York City and began touring the country, performing at college campuses, coffeehouses, bars, and music festivals; started Righteous Babe Records music label in Buffalo, NY, 1990; released first album Ani DiFranco,1990; released at least one album a year, 1991-.

Addresses: Record company—Righteous Babe Records, P.O. Box 95, Endicott Station, Buffalo, NY 14205, website: http://www.righteousbabe.com

that I was self-sufficient. For me, it was the ideal childhood: complete emancipation.”

In high school, at the age of 15, the independent and spirited DiFranco found an apartment of her own in Buffalo and started writing her own songs in order to pursue her already mushrooming career. At the age of eighteen, she moved to New York City and began touring the country in a Volkswagen Bug, performing at college campuses, coffeehouses, bars, and music festivals. She explained to Guitar Player’s James Rotondi, “(My percussive acoustic technique) evolved out of twelve years of playing in bars, where people are there to pick up somebody and drink themselves into a stupor, not to listen to the chick in the corner with the acoustic.”

Started Her Own Label

When DiFranco reached the point where she wanted to make an album in the late 1980s, the unresponsive-ness of music industry executives prompted her to start her own label, Righteous Babe, in 1990. Dedicated to remaining independent, she told Rotondi, “If you want to challenge the system, you don’t go to bed with it.” DiFranco created her audience through a slow build-up of fans over the years and her ascent to fame was slow as she told Billboard’s Roger Deitz, “Righteous Babe Records doesn’t have a big publicity and marketing budget. My marketing and publicity, and the whole reason I have this big audience base, is because of years of playing.” By 1996, she had sold over 200,000 copies of her albums.

Although DiFranco started her own label to retain complete control of her work, she also enjoys the notion that she negotiates how to reach her audience and how to juggle finances. She began by selling tapes as she toured across the country, and although Righteous Babe Records sold over 200,000 records by 1996, DiFranco still devoted three weeks out of every month touring, splitting her week off between Buffalo, New York, where the label is based, and New York City, where she lives. She told McDonnell, “that’s the nature of a career that’s built on toting your butt around the country and playing music for people as opposed to commercial airplay or national TV exposure.”

Inherently Political

Political and moral themes, often of a personal nature, dominate DiFranco’s albums; an example is “The Million You Never Made” on Not A Pretty Girl, which offers the verse, “If you don’t live what you sing about, your mirror is going to find out.” On the same album, DiFranco sings about bisexuality, and the death penalty from the perspective of the condemned. By embracing the most controversial issues of our time, DiFranco hopes to diffuse them, discuss them, and deepen understanding of each topic’s nuances.

DiFranco’s most ardent fans are a possessive group. While performing at a concert in New York City in 1996, MTV News cameras filmed the show while DiFranco’s fans shouted, “MTV sucks!” at the camerapeople. DiFranco toned down the angry outbursts with humor, telling the audience that the camerapeople were from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, there to capture her in her natural environment, and that she would soon be mating with her drummer.

Difranco released Dilate in 1996, the majority of which covered the subject of her newly-blossoming relationship with her sound man, Andrew Gilchrist (affectionately called “Goat Boy” by DiFranco because of his long goatee). The couple married in 1998. This relationship made some of her lesbian fans upset, but it wasn’t the first time DiFranco had raised their ire. “I remember the first time that I started walking out on stage in a dress and hearing young women screaming ’Sellout!,’” she told The Progressive. “They were just coming to know their own anger, and it hadn’t deepened with an awareness that feminism is truly about women becoming themselves, and having choices, and I remember those angry, angry responses….” Dilate debuted in the top 100 of the Billboard charts, a first for DiFranco, and brought her wider mainstream attention.

A long-awaited live album was released in 1997. Living in Clip featured 31 songs performed in various cities across the United States, as well as snippets of DiFranco’s between-song banter that she has become known for. The album was widely praised. She also placed songs in six movies that year, including the title song to the Julia Roberts vehicle My Best Friend’s Wedding, and her tour that year was confirmed as one of the top-grossing tours of the year.

Collaborative Spirit

DiFranco embarked on several collaborations with her personal idols in 1999. The first, a CD made with Utah Phillips, contained both Phillips’s stories and DiFranco’s vocals and music. She told The Progressive that a collaboration between her and the storyteller was a logical choice: “Our uniforms look very different, and our ages and our audiences, and yet we’re telling a lot of the same stories in our own ways.” She also toured with Maceo Parker later in the year, an inspiration for her own performances. “You just give it all up, what ’it’ is. That instinct is maybe more important than what ’it’ is on any given night. That’s your mission. That’s what originally drew me to Maceo as a performer, just going to a show and realizing this guy holds nothing back. He just plays until the last bead of sweat drips off and falls over. To me, that’s what performing is all about.”

She continued her prolific output into the new mille-nium, releasing at least one new studio album every year as well as another double-CD live album, So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, in 2002. Her music took a jazz-influenced turn on the albums Up Up Up Up Up Up and To the Teeth, but her wide range of influences best manifested themselves on 2001’s Revelling: Reckoning, an album Time called “her most ambitious, accomplished work yet, melding folk, jazz, funk, and rock into music that’s as elemental and unpredictable as the weather.”

DiFranco went through some changes in both her career and personal life in 2003. A split with her husband, a return to playing solo after years of playing with a band, and a move down to New Orleans promised to influence the music DiFranco composes and the direction in which her career moves.

As DiFranco’s popularity grows, she’s faced with difficult decisions and growing pains; she’s caught between fans who want her to remain accessible, and her untapped fans, reached only through more exposure. She has managed to balance her increasing mainstream recognition with her staunch political beliefs, refusing to compromise her values and beliefs for money. She has kept Righteous Babe in Buffalo for over a decade, helping to grow the economy there. “[I] didn’t think that New York needed another little business, but Buffalo did,” she told Curve. “Now people move to Buffalo to work at Righteous Babe Records. There were probably only 6 people who moved to Buffalo in the last 30 years!” She has famously maintained her distance from major labels, so much so that she is rarely even approached about signing now. DiFranco told McDonnell, “I believe in… not just making revolutionary music but making it in a way that challenges the system… The possibility of emancipation and control and independence is so much greater now.”

Selected discography

Ani DiFranco, Righteous Babe, 1990.

Not So Soft, Righteous Babe, 1991.

Imperfectly, Righteous Babe, 1992.

Puddle Dive, Righteous Babe, 1993.

Like I Said: Songs 1990-1991, Righteous Babe, 1993.

Out of Range, Righteous Babe, 1994.

Not a Pretty Girl, Righteous Babe, 1995.

Dilate, Righteous Babe, 1996.

(With Utah Phillips) The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere, Righteous Babe, 1996.

Living in Clip (live), Righteous Babe, 1997.

Little Plastic Castle, Righteous Babe, 1998.

Up Up Up Up Up Up, Righteous Babe, 1999.

(With Utah Phillips) Fellow Workers, Righteous Babe, 1999.

To the Teeth, Righteous Babe, 1999.

Revelling: Reckoning, Righteous Babe, 2001.

So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter (live), Righteous Babe, 2002.

Evolve, Righteous Babe, 2003.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, October 22, 1994; November 4, 1995; November 11, 1995.

Curve, May 2001.

Down Beat, November 1999.

Entertainment Weekly, May 2, 1997.

Guitar Player, December 1994; November 2002.

Interview, July 1995.

Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1994.

Ms., November/December 1995.

New Yorker, October 2, 1995.

New York Magazine, October 2, 1995.

New York Newsday, June 30, 1995.

New York Times, September 28, 1995.

Out, September 1995.

People, August 4, 1997.

Progressive, May 2000.

Rolling Stone, August 24, 1995; November 16, 1995.

Sojourners, May-June 2002.

Spin, December 1995.

Time, February 9, 1998; April 23, 2001.

Time Out, April 24, 1996.

Variety, February 16, 1998.

Village Voice, October 3, 1995.

Washington Post, September 15, 1995.

Online

“Ani DiFranco,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (June 27, 2003).

“I’m a voting adult and it’s my job to fix it,” Salon, http://www.salon.com/ent/music/intf2003/06/10/difranco/print.html (June 27, 2003).

Righteous Babe Records Official Website, http://www.righteousbabe.com (June 27, 2003).

B. Kimberly Taylor

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DiFranco, Ani

Ani DiFranco

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Wide Range of Styles and Fans

Played in Bars at Age Nine

Started Her Own Label

Inherently Political

Selected discography

Sources

Punk/folk singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco attained musical heroine status at the age of twenty-five among both fans and critics with her seventh release, Not A Pretty Girl, in 1995. She told Spins James Patrick Herman, People expect my kind of in-your-face approach from a punk, not some chick with an acoustic guitar. I prefer the power that comes with walking on stage with a little piece of wood.. .thats more punk rock than making a lot of noise.

Her acoustic performances are part mosh-pit party, part hoedown, and part folk-hootenanny, punctuated with stage dives, broken guitar strings, and lyrics that cover issues like abortion, body image baggage, bi-sexuality, death, and fidelity. DiFranco alternates between a smoldering warmth and an angry explosion of sound, and defies categorization by blending the forth-rightness and anger of punk rock with the simplicity, beauty, and poetry of folk music. She uses press-on nails reinforced with electrical tape when performing to bang-strum on her acoustic guitar, and offers only drummer Andy Stochansky as musical back-up.

Wide Range of Styles and Fans

DiFrancos fans reveal her widespread appeal as they are as diverse and hard to peg as her style, ranging in age from teenaged girls to the middle-aged, and from alternative rock fans, to folk music and hardcore punk rock enthusiasts.

With a broad emotional palette at her disposal, DiFrancos vocal range fluctuates between gritty and airy. Rolling Stones Fred Goodman describes her as, A wonder to behold: a spiky-haired volcano(whose) songs, though mostly about independence and romanceoften take unexpected, jarring turnssuch as when she recites a poem about an abortion or sings about being felt up in the subway. She told Out magazines Ray Rogers, I just sing my goofy songs about my goofy little life, underscoring the fact that shes her own person and without regard for those who might take offense at her uncensored output.

Played in Bars at Age Nine

DiFranco was born in Buffalo, NY, in 1970, and began playing music at age nine when her parents bought her a Beatles songbook and an acoustic guitar. Within a few years, she was singing Yesterday at local coffeehouses with the guidance of a local folk singer. As Rolling Stones Evelyn McDonnell put it, She met a man named Mike, a 30-year-old degenerate folk-singer barfly at a guitar store in Buffalo, NY. They

For the Record

Born 1970 Buffalo, NY.

Began playing music at age nine; sang in local coffeehouses starting at age eleven; moved out on her own at age fifteen to pursue a career in music; at the age of eighteen moved to New York City and began touring the country, performing at college campuses, coffeehouses, bars, and music festivals; started Righteous Babe Records music label in Buffalo, NY, in 1990; released first album DiFranco in 1990.

Address: Righteous Babe Records, P.O. Box 95, Endi-cott Station, Buffalo, NY 14205.

began playing together and hanging out with other singer/songwriters, who would come up from New York to play. DiFrancos parents were absorbed in their own problems at the time, and DiFranco told McDonnell, (They) were just happy from the beginning that I was self-sufficient. For me, it was the ideal childhood: complete emancipation.

In high school, at the age of fifteen, the independent and spirited DiFranco found an apartment of her own in Buffalo and started writing her own songs in order to pursue her already mushrooming career. At the age of eighteen, she moved to New York City and began touring the country in a Volkswagen bug, performing at college campuses, coffeehouses, bars, and music festivals. She explained to Guitar Players James Ro-tondi, (My percussive acoustic technique) evolved out of twelve years of playing in bars, where people are there to pick up somebody and drink themselves into a stupor, not to listen to the chick in the corner with the acoustic.

Started Her Own Label

When DiFranco reached the point where she wanted to make an album in the late 1980s, the unresponsiveness of music industry executives prompted her to start her own label, Righteous Babe, in 1990. Dedicated to remaining independent, she told Rotondi, If you want to challenge the system, you dont go to bed with it. DiFranco created her audience through a slow build-up of fans over the years and her ascent to fame was slow as she told Billboards Roger Deitz, Righteous Babe Records doesnt have a big publicity and marketing budget. My marketing and publicity, and the whole reason I have this big audience base, is because of years of playing. By 1996, she had sold over 200,000 copies of her albums.

Although DiFranco started her own label to retain complete control of her work, she also enjoys the notion that she negotiates how to reach her audience and how to juggle finances. She began by selling tapes as she toured across the country, and although Righteous Babe Records sold over 200,000 records by 1996, DiFranco still devoted three weeks out of every month touring, splitting her week off between Buffalo, New York, where the label is based, and New York City, where she lives. She told McDonnell, thats the nature of a career thats built on toting your butt around the country and playing music for people as opposed to commercial airplay or national TV exposure.

Inherently Political

Political and moral themes, often of a personal nature, dominate DiFrancos albums; an example is The Million You Never Made on Not A Pretty Girl, which offers the verse, If you dont live what you sing about, your mirror is going to find out. On the same album, DiFranco sings about bisexuality, and the death penalty from the perspective of the condemned. By embracing the most controversial issues of our time, DiFranco hopes to diffuse them, discuss them, and deepen understanding of each topics nuances.

DiFrancos most ardent fans are a possessive group. While performing at a concert in New York City in 1996, MTV News cameras filmed the show while DiFrancos fans shouted, MTV sucks! at the camerapeople. DiFranco toned down the angry outbursts with humor, telling the audience that the camerapeople were from Mutual of Omahas Wild Kingdom, there to capture her in her natural environment, and that she would soon be mating with her drummer. As DiFrancos popularity grows, shes faced with difficult decisions and growing pains; shes caught between fans who want her to remain accessible, and her untapped fans, reached only through more exposure. DiFranco told McDonnell, I believe innot just making revolutionary music but making it in a way that challenges the system.The possibility of emancipation and control and independence is so much greater now.

Selected discography

On Righteous Babe Records

Ani DiFranco, 1990.

Not So Soft, 1991.

Imperfectly, 1992.

Puddle Dive, 1993.

Like I Said: Songs 1990-1991, 1993.

Out of Range, 1994.

Not A Pretty Girl, 1995.

Dilate, 1996.

Sources

Billboard, October 22, 1994; November 4, 1995; November 11, 1995.

Guitar Player, December 1994.

Interview, July 1995.

Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1994.

Ms. Magazine, November/December 1995.

New York Magazine, October 2, 1995.

New York Newsday, June 30, 1995.

New York Times, September 28, 1995.

The New Yorker, October 2, 1995.

Out, September 1995.

Rolling Stone, August 24, 1995; November 16, 1995.

Spin, December 1995.

Time Out, April 24, 1996.

Village Voice, October 3, 1995.

Washington Post, September 15, 1995.

B. Kimberly Taylor

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"DiFranco, Ani." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"DiFranco, Ani." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved April 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/difranco-ani

Difranco, Ani

ANI DIFRANCO

Born: Buffalo, New York, 23 September 1970

Genre: Rock, Folk

Best-selling album since 1990: Living in Clip (1997)

Hit songs since 1990: "32 Flavors," "Not a Pretty Girl"


Singer, songwriter, outspoken feminist, and punk-folk prodigy, Ani DiFranco has released more than a dozen albums on her own label, Righteous Babe records. Her impassioned singing, rhythmic approach to playing the acoustic guitar, and incisive political and personal lyrics have inspired a loyal legion of fans. DiFranco has released at least one album a year since the mid-1990s, after the stunning Not a Pretty Girl (1995) set the stage for her fame. A true original, DiFranco is punk rock in her approach and in her spiky-haired appearance but folk in her musical preference for confessional and occasionally didactic songs.


Ambition, Purpose, and Will

Ani DiFranco's rise to success is a tale of singularity of purpose. Growing up in a blue-collar town listening to the music of the Beatles and Joni Mitchell, DiFranco picked up the guitar at age nine and started writing her own songs. By the time she was a teenager, she was playing in bars and clubs in upstate New York. At fifteen she moved to New York City, and at nineteen she released her self-titled debut album. DiFranco started touring coffee-houses, bars, college campuses, and music festivals to support each successive album in the early to mid-1990s. She credits her uniquely percussive acoustic guitar style to years of struggling to be heard over the chatty crowds at bars and clubs.

By the time Out of Range (1994) came out, DiFranco was starting to attract attention in the folk music circuit, and critics started paying attention to this unique voice. Never one to cow to the tall orders of others, DiFranco defends her right to create her own music, her own image, and her own voice. Throughout Out of Range DiFranco mines her acoustic guitar for all its sonic possibilities: furious strumming on the title track, knocking and rapping it on "Buildings and Bridges," and cascading arpeggios on "Hell Yeah."


Success for Not a Pretty Girl

In 1995 Ani DiFranco officially hit it big with the release of her album Not a Pretty Girl. The album landed on many magazines' top-ten lists, and DiFranco appeared on the cover of Spin magazine with spiked-out hair and leather pants. DiFranco's success showed that a female musician did not have to fit into a music-industry pigeonhole; female musicians could contain a multitude of complexities and still be successful. Her next album, Dilate (1996), was equally progressive, finding DiFranco more comfortable with the range of her voice. Dilate features some slightly more edgy sounds of an electric guitar and seems to chronicle a messy relationship and its fallout.


Touring and Recording

DiFranco spent most of the 1990s touring and recording, splitting her time between Buffalo and New York City. She became increasingly productive toward the end of the 1990s, releasing two double albums, one of which, Living in Clip (1997), is a live album with the band she had formed. Living in Clip is treasured by fans, for it ably captures the energy of her live performances and showcases Ani DiFranco at her best. In 1998 she married her sound engineer, Andrew Gilchrest, and seemed happy to discuss her marital state in interviews. This seemingly conventional act angered fans who felt betrayed by their unorthodox, free-thinking, sexually progressive role model. In 1999 DiFranco released two so-so albums that continued to show her discursive lyrical style, Up Up Up Up Up Up and To the Teeth, the former of which spawned the single "Angry Any More."

By the year 2000 Righteous Babe had sold more than 1 million copies of her records, Surprisingly, DiFranco slowed down a bit; she did not release anything in 2000 but made up for it with Reveling/Reckoning (2001). A double album that is at times heavy-handed in its polemics, it sold more than 37,000 copies in its debut week, quite a feat for a woman whose music is not embraced by commercial radio. In 2003 DiFranco released Evolve, an album that employs a horn section and shows that she has become wiser as a songwriter and as a person in the nearly fifteen years she has been recording music. The political statements never become overwrought diatribes, and the arrangements are spare, raw, and intimate.

Ani DiFranco is a folk poet with the ferocity and spirit of a punk rocker, a woman with an independent mind and a formidable technique on the twelve-string guitar. Having snubbed the corporate overseers to kick-start and master her own career, she is an inspiration to countless singer/songwriters.

Spot Light: Not a Pretty Girl

The tongue-in-cheek title of DiFranco's breakthrough album just barely hints at the firestorm that brews throughout the fourteen thoughtful, polemic, anthemic, and literate punk-folk songs. The saucy leadoff track, "Worthy," spins a relationship on its head in the kiss off in the opening lines: "You think you're not worthy / I'd have to say I'd agree / I'm not worthy of you / You're not worthy of me." But DiFranco is clever and strong and disinclined to let her lover off the hook so easily. Not a Pretty Girl also features songs about fame, the death penalty, bisexuality, and abortion. In the title-track manifesto DiFranco defines herself. She starts off with sarcasm and moves to self-assurance, "I am not a pretty girl / That is not what I do / I ain't no damsel in distress." DiFranco then effortlessly moves on to her generation and pop culture, explaining that she is not an angry girl but that "Every time I say something they find hard to hear / They chalk it up to my anger and never to their own fear."

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Puddle Dive (Righteous Babe, 1993); Out of Range (Righteous Babe, 1994); Not a Pretty Girl (Righteous Babe, 1995); Dilate (Righteous Babe, 1996); Living in Clip (Righteous Babe, 1997); Little Plastic Castles (Righteous Babe, 1998); Up Up Up Up Up Up (Righteous Babe, 1999); To the Teeth (Righteous Babe, 1999); Reveling: Reckoning (Righteous Babe, 2001); So Much Shouting/ So Much Laughter (Righteous Babe, 2002); Evolve (Righteous Babe, 2003).

WEBSITE:

www.righteousbaberecords.com.

carrie havranek

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"Difranco, Ani." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved April 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/difranco-ani