Feminist History-Makers: One Righteous Babe

By Angela Griffore, Field Intern

There is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and guitarist who has released over 20 albums in the last two decades. This musician is also a widely celebrated activist and feminist icon who has backed various grassroots cultural and political organizations concerned with social issues such as racism, sexism, sexual abuse, homophobia, reproductive rights, poverty, and war.

Does the name Ani DiFranco come to mind? If not, be prepared to add a new role model to your list and a new artist to your iPod.

Ani DiFranco is a self-described “little folksinger.” She has written hundreds of songs, played thousands of shows, and captured the imaginations of legions of followers. Clearly, the impact this folksinger has had on listeners around the world has been anything but little. How did DiFranco come to such fame? By breaking all the rules, of course.

Unlike the numerous pop princesses who hit the music scene in the 1990s, DiFranco never played by the music industry’s rules. Instead of signing a recording contract with a label, DiFranco created her own label, Righteous Babe Records. Her rapid rise in popularity in the mid-1990s was fueled mostly by personal contact and word of mouth rather than mainstream media.

DiFranco’s material is autobiographical and often strongly political. Through her music and lifestyle, DiFranco encourages her listeners to get politically active. The Righteous Babe website includes an action section where visitors can access alternatives to mainstream media coverage of world events, and learn new ways to find and work with like-minded individuals and organizations.

In an interview DiFranco once said, “Since political edifices are purporting to dictate to me whether I can or cannot have an abortion, what drugs I can or cannot ingest, where on this Earth I can and cannot go, and who on this Earth I can love (just to name a few things), then it seems obvious to me that the personal is political.”

DiFranco was one of the first musicians to receive the “Woman of Courage Award” at the 2006 NOW Conference. Her dedication to responding to injustice not only in her music, but in all aspects of her professional career and personal life, only goes to show that Ani DiFranco is one righteous babe.

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