After 20 years in the music biz, self-described “Little Folksinger” Ani DiFranco is still technically little, although her influence on fellow musicians, activists, and indie-minded people the world over has been huge. She still proudly identifies as a folksinger, too, but her understanding of that term has always been far more expansive than a bin at the record store or a category on iTunes, with ample room for soul, funk, jazz, electronic music, spoken word, and a marching band or two. Over the course of more than 20 albums, including the live double-CD Living in Clip (1997) and the two-disc career retrospective Canon (2007), as well as her latest, ¿Which Side Are You On? (2012), Ani has never stopped evolving, experimenting and testing the limits of what can be said and sung.
Early in her career, Ani made a choice that is now so obvious to so many people that it’s hard to remember it was once considered brazen: to say no to every record label deal that came her way, and yes to being her own boss. She used her voice and her guitar as honestly and unflinchingly as she could, writing and playing songs that came straight from her own experience, her boundless imagination, her sharp wit, and her ever-more-nuanced understanding of how the world works. She did it in noisy bars with nothing but a shaved head and a lone guitar in 1990, and she’s doing it with renewed intensity today.