New compilation features old and new material
A new band, new recordings, new book and a baby, but what makes Ani DiFranco one of the most provocative musicians of our time remains the same.
Additions both personal and professional abound for the politically minded folkie from Buffalo (now living in New Orleans) who at age 18 bought a fledgling label for $50 and turned it into DIY phenomenon Righteous Babe Records. The feminist icon has fresh players backing her up and a recent release called Canon, a double-disc compilation of her best songs over a trailblazing career spanning nearly 20 years. She also has Verses, a book of original poetry and paintings published in tandem with the discs.
All of this gets done, of course, in the moments between DiFranco tending to her nine-month-old, Petah Lucia.
“It’s forcing me to slow down production a little bit on the old folk song tip, but I’m more than ready for that,” says DiFranco, now 37, on being a mom. “The whole process of getting pregnant, giving birth and having the buck stop here for somebody else’s existence has made me think about things differently.”
Canon features new touches to old favourites. While assembling its lineup, DiFranco re-recorded existing songs, some drastically so.
“I wanted to provide an element that was new and vital to the compilation so it’s not just a mixed tape,” she says. “If someone’s curious about my music, where do you begin?”
DiFranco’s music and now poetry often reflects on progressive topics and feminism — a word branded as a threat far too often, she says.
The word is just common sense for DiFranco.
“Why would young women, let alone all of us at this point, not identify as feminists? It’s not a radical concept,” she says.
“A lot of this is busy work by the Christian right that could be energy better spent in other areas. How about fighting for peace on this earth, an end to war?”
But DiFranco approaches the challenge in a quintessentially American way: If you don’t like it, you can change it yourself.
“Don’t say, ‘President Bush is doing this, so we should do that.’ It makes you want to give up before you start,” she says. “But if you say, ‘Check out this cool co-op that’s doing this local food thing,’ you get people inspired to do the right thing rather than reacting and fighting against the wrong thing.”