When it comes to music, Ani DiFranco believes in starting young. Born on September 23, 1970 in Buffalo, New York, she started playing music in local bars at the tender age of nine. "Nobody played music in my family, but as soon as I got my guitar, I started making friends with this guy, Mike, at the guitar shop, and he started taking me around to his gigs," she said of her inspiration to pursue career in music.
When she was 16, she joined a band and played as a house band of a local club. By 1989 she had her own label, called Righteous Records and released her self-titled debut album in 1990. For the next six years, DiFranco constantlty released an album each year and toured vigorously to promote them. She became such a cultural figure in Buffalo.
She married sound engineer Andrew Gilchrist in a Unitarian Universalist service in Canada in 1998, the same year her drummer, Andy Stochansky left her band to pursue solo career. DiFranco and Gilchrist divorced after five years of marriage and she went on a relationship with her producer Mike Napolitano who later fathered her first child. They got married in 2009, two years after the child was born.
Career-wise, DiFranco continued spawning one album after another, becoming a prominent indie artist at festivals at the same time. Starting in 2003, DiFranco was nominated four consecutive times for Best Recording Package at the Grammy Awards, winning in 2004, for the album"Evolve". She only slowed down in 2005 after developing tendinitis and in 2007 when her child was born. But DiFranco was actually never really resting. She released a collection of poetry in a book titled "Verses" in 2007 and her work was later featured on Def Jam's poetry hour.
Beside a musician, DiFranco is also known for her political view and feminism. In 2006, she received Woman of Courage Award which was given each year to a woman who has set herself apart by her contributions to the feminist movement. "I think what we need to do is to understand feminism as a prerequisite to saving the environment, to ending war, to ending racism. We need to understand that feminism is not for women, it's for humanity. Patriarchy does not work for men - they go and get killed in wars. Patriarchy hurts all of us," she voiced her opinion.
Her 2008 album "Red Letter Year" marked her comeback after a year of hiatus. "My partner Mike Napolitano co-produced this record - my guitar and voice have never sounded better, and that’s because of him. I've got this great band and crew. And my baby, she teaches me how to just be in my skin, to do less and be more," she said about the album.
She took her longest break yet in releasing studio album after the release of "Red Letter Year". She filled her days with either touring or working with another artist. Her new album "Which Side Are You On?" was eventually released on January 17, 2012 with collaborations from Pete Seeger, Ivan Neville, Cyril Neville, Skerik, and Adam Levy among others. The album debuted at number 26 on the Billboard 200 chart.