Ani DiFranco / Utah Phillips
23 September 1970, Buffalo, New York State, USA. Prolific feminist singer-songwriter Ani (pronounced Ah-nee) DiFranco began performing at the age of nine, establishing her independence by living on her own from the age of 15 onwards. She released her initial recordings on her own Righteous Babe Records in 1990, quickly cultivating an identity through her visual appearance (piercings, dyed or shorn hair) that had little to do with precursors such as Joan Baez. After attending art school in her native Buffalo, DiFranco moved to New York City and the New School for Social Research. In the evenings she played sets at local bars, writing songs that soon identified her as a precocious talent. Literate, ebullient and a natural live performer, she quickly won converts drawn equally from folk and rock audiences. Her debut album confirmed this promise, its lyrics informed by feminist theory but never subsumed by rhetoric or preciousness. As she told Billboard magazine in...