Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of music by Ani Difranco.

American music of the 1990s saw the incarnation of grunge the rebirth of swing, the immense popularity of pop-country, and a new interest in folk music. It was during this decade that the members of the so-called "Generation X" came of age. Music of this time was often fraught with the emotions of anger, helplessness, and boredom from a conflicted generation that seemed largely more fortunate and yet dissonant than any generation before. Ani Difranco's music emerged publicly during this period with her self-titled album AniDifranco. Difranco's music contained elements of folk that hearkened back to the likes of 1960s folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, as well a hearty dose of Punk attitude.

Her music is very much an expression of her life and views and speaks to issues such as violence against women, sexism and abortion, as well a number of other social and political concerns. For these reasons, Ani and her music have been championed by lesbian and gay rights groups as well as other folk artists who identify with the same or similar issues.

Ani was born in Buffalo, New York in 1970. At the age of 15, after her parents' divorce, she struck out on her own instead of choosing between living with her mother or father. A self-taught guitarist, Ani also had creative interests in other areas of the arts including dance and visual art. As she set her mind to creating her music and making a life for herself, she continued her education by briefly studying visual arts.

By the time she was 19, Ani had written over 100 songs, and was well on her way to a career in music. Her talents, persistence and strong DIY, or do-it-yourself (DIY) mantra, have been the sources of much of her success and a sort of a battle cry for her listeners. Because of many requests from fans for her music, she recorded and produced 500 copies of a self-titled cassette to sell at her concerts. True to her DIY notion, this led to the beginning of her own recording label, Righteous Babe Records. She felt that it would allow her to maintain control of her art and produce music that was true to her vision. Early in her career, this was very much a risky move, however, but later she would be hailed as a savvy businesswoman whose decision netted her twice as much in royalties per sale as the top selling music act of that time, Hootie and the Blowfish.

As part of the 1990s female vocalist movement, Ani received some notoriety, although it tended to get lost behind the big marketing machines that fueled the success of Lilith Fair artists. In 1991, she began touring alone, traveling throughout America in her Volkswagen and giving concerts at gigs wherever she could find them. By doing this, she became a major cult figure. There is no doubt that her usual image at that time, which included a shaved head, tattoos, and various body piercings contributed to the enthusiasm of the cult surrounding her.

Throughout the 1990s her work developed and matured. When one listens to Dilate, released in 1996, one hears songs containing the pissed off semblance of a woman done wrong by a man. Not at all unlike Alanis Morisette's "Jagged Little Pill" and Jewel's "Pieces of You". Ani's lyrics, however, carry much more strength of conviction as though she were a soldier carrying her flag through the bloody battlefields of war. For Ani, those battlefields are the obstacles of life that perpetuate negative, de-powering stereotypes that cripple humanity. Dilate illustrates this with the changes of tone throughout the CD, that also includes a tender rendition of "Amazing Grace". Dilate, with its powerful references to a passionate love affair with a man, distanced her work from many of her gay followers, although it found both commercial and critical success.

The consistent attention to powerful, meaningful lyrics and creativity as well as the new maturity of Difranco can be heard on the CD, "Little Plastic Castle", released in 1998, as well as "Revelling: Reckoning", a two CD set which appeared in spring 2001.

During her career, Ani has created an eclectic mix of music and collaborated with a number of well-known artists such as the legendary folk singer, Utah Phillips. She has on two occasions recorded and released two albums in the same year. Ani Difranco's music and creative vision have made her a very respected artist and writer, as well a major force in contemporary music. A complete discography of Difranco's music is found at AllMusic

Page author: B.A.