'Righteous Babe' Ani DiFranco returns with message of revolutionary love

·4 min read

Jun. 30—It's not surprising that Ani DiFranco, who is as much an activist as a folk singer-songwriter, paused as if the breath was taken from her, when asked about Roe v. Wade being overturned.

"It really is so tragic," DiFranco said in a thoughtful, measured tone. "It's 2022 and there is still this huge faction of people within the patriarchy who are still unable to engage with the full humanity of females. You know, people with ovaries. You would think that in the 21s century that we would at least see each other as human beings. Stripping women of their reproductive freedom is so wrong. That freedom is at the core of our civil rights. Women must choose how they procreate. Without that right we are subjugated. We are reproductive servants."

DiFranco, 51, has recently written one new song, "The Thing at Hand," which is inspired by an array of recent events. "I'll pull that one out in Spokane since I love playing the newest stuff since it's hot on my mind," DiFranco said while calling from Grass Valley, California. "The song has some controversial sentiment built into it. It's about pushing back against the current culture I find myself not entirely aligned with."

The fiery activist has been pushing back since she started her own independent label, Righteous Babe, a generation ago. DiFranco thumbed her nose at the major labels and recorded 22 albums, in which she doesn't share the rights with anyone.

"I was the canary in the coal mine," DiFranco said while laughing. "I screamed 'Everybody out.' It sure is a different game than the one I came up in and it's for the better in a lot of ways. I hope I played a part in opening things up. The age of recording artists as indentured servants is finally ending. It's a crazy new age. I tried to help by pushing the envelope as the indie girl."

DiFranco, who will perform Saturday at the Bing Crosby Theater, has earned a loyal fan base courtesy of her gutsy, intense, sometimes melancholy and often poignant folk.

It's hard to imagine how the prolific DiFranco crafts a set list. "It's kind of fun to draw from so much material," DiFranco said. "Sometimes I think I really need to write a song about this and I realize I already wrote that song. Man, I wrote a lot of bleeping songs! When I go onstage I go with my gut. I get requests live during shows but I'm a three-day girl in terms of preparation. If you want to hear a certain song at one of my shows, send a friend to a show three concerts earlier."

Expect a healthy dose of DiFranco's latest album, "Revolutionary Love," which dropped in 2021. DiFranco's latest collection of songs is wistful and full of compassion. "I think what we need now is love," DiFranco said. "It all starts and ends with love. That's my message with 'Revolutionary Love.' "

DiFranco is optimistic despite how disgusted she is with the current climate. "I'm hopeful that things will change but it is like the dark ages," DiFranco said. "Every time we think this is the lowest we can stoop, it gets worse. I keep hope alive even though the devolution continues"

Part of the reason DiFranco is upbeat is due to her 15-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. "This generation of kids is much more woke than any generation, thanks to their access to information and misinformation," DiFranco said. "They get things on a deep level. It doesn't matter to them if you are gay, black or trans. I see that they look at us with disdain. That look is like, 'How could you have let this happen?' It's going to be very interesting to see what happens when these old white supremacists die off."

DiFranco is curious to see what the next wave of young singer-songwriters deliver. "It's going to be something to watch since I'm not young anymore," DiFranco said. "I can't wait to see what they bring. I'm so hopeful."

Ani DiFranco appears Saturday at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave. Abraham Alexander will open. Tickets are $27.50, $34.50 and $44.50. Show time is 8 p.m. For more information, 509-227-7638,www.bingcrosbytheater.evenue.net