"Torch Bearer for the Next Generation"
At the age of 9, she was playing Beatles covers at local bars and busking with her guitar teacher. At the age of 14, she was writing her own songs. She played them at bars and coffee houses throughout her teen years. She lived by herself after moving out of her mother’s apartment becoming an emancipated minor at the age of 15. From an interview with Amy Goodman: “when I was 11, I was living in an apartment with my mother, and she decided to move out of state and reinvent her life. And I went and checked out rural Connecticut with her, where she was going to land, and I just couldn’t get my head around it, so I stayed behind in Buffalo. And that was—when I was 15. So, I was on my own from then on.” At 16 she graduated from the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts ad began taking classes at Buffalo State College.
Meet Angela Maria DiFranco. We know her as Ani. She was born on September 23rd, 1970, in Buffalo, New York. Both of her parents were immigrants who met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They were both older (40 and 50) when she was born. She describes her early life as “not intimate”, with invisible walls everywhere, despite the actual apartment they lived that was in her words “intimate.” It had no walls, just one room on the first floor and one room on the second. Ani DiFranco, 48, is a Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter.
She released her first album in 1990 and moved to New York City shortly after that. She has released more than 20 albums and her music is classified as folk rock and alternative rock although it has had influences from funk, hip hop, jazz and alternative rock. Refusing to bow to the power of record companies, she has released all of her albums on her own record label, Righteous Babe. She sings of the personal and political, of love, sexuality and loneliness, of sexual abuse and police brutality, and about the perversion of democracy in America. She had grown into not only an acclaimed musician and performer, but a strident activist.
She took poetry classes at the New School where she met the poet Sekou Sundiata who became a friend and mentor. She toured continuously for the next 15 years at folk festivals here and in Canada, stopping only to record albums.
In September 1995, she was part of a concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, celebrating the opening of the Woody Gurthrie Archives in New York City. She later released a CD of the concert, entitled Til We Outnumber Em, featuring herself, Billy Bragg, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Arlo Guthrie, Indigo Girls, Dave Pirner, Tim Robbins, and Bruce Springtseen. 100% of the proceeds went tot he Guthrie Foundation and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum educational funds. She has played with many other popular musicians including Pete Seeger, Prince, and Utah Philips.
She continued to play ever larger venues around the world and attracted much attention in the world press. She wrote the poem “Self Evident” about her experience in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. The poem became the title of her book of poetry later released in Italy.
DiFranco came out as bisexual in her twenties and has written extensively about love and sex with both women and men. In 1998 she married her sound engineer Andrew Gilchrist. They were divorced in 2003.
2007 DiFranco gave birth to her first child, daughter Petah Lucia DiFranco Napolitano, at her Buffalo home. She moved to Baywater, New Orleans in 2008. She married the child's father, Mike Napolitano, also her regular producer, in 2009. On April 6, 2013, she gave birth to her second child, son Dante DiFranco Napolitano.
She has recently released a memoir, “No Walls and the Recurring Dream.” Pete Seeger, once described DiFranco as “the torch bearer for the next generation.”
Ani and her daughter, Petah