After some 20 albums in nearly as many years, calling Ani DiFranco an overachiever seems something of an understatement. Edgy, outspoken, and hugely influential, she remains the inherent insurgent, railing against the mainstream while others are merely wailing, taking relentless aim at issues surrounding sex, politics, and modern culture.
"I had that rebellious, youthful energy just oozing from me," DiFranco told New Times back in a 2008 interview. "There's certainly plenty to rebel against, and I think there was even less room in society for feminist statements, for raucous, righteous, loudmouth women."
The singer's unrepentant attitude continues to surface even in her latest songs, such as "Buildings and Bridges" ("We are made to fight, to fuck, and to fight again..."), "Shy" ("I have too much on the table, I have too much at stake"), and "32 Flavors" ("I'm a poster girl without a poster"). Her sardonic tirades and brisk, percussive rhythms create a volatile combination, a swagger and sway that set her apart from her alternative peers.
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As an artist, entrepreneur, and activist for a variety of feminist and political causes, DiFranco founded and runs her own indie record label, the appropriately named Righteous Babe. Building up the label starting back in 1990 was a bold move to assert her independence over the mainstream industry, and the boss still lives by that ethos.
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"I keep moving forward, and there's a lot of change and a lot of experimentation," she says. "I suppose that's more interesting than sort of just stagnating for an audience."
Though at age 44, DiFranco has weathered her share of storms, make no mistake, the impassioned singer has not forsaken her idealism. "I guess there are exchanges that you make in life along the way, and I've definitely lost some of my youthful eagerness and sense of wonder with my life and my job," she says. "But in exchange, I get these kind of affirmations and awards, and they're very gratifying. I feel like those are some of the gifts of age."
With Ana Egge. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 6, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 via ticketmaster.com.