Folk singer/songwriter and feminist icon Ani DiFranco recently joined Michael Franti for an episode of the Stay Human podcast. She talked about everything from her newest release Revolutionary Love to her the beginning of her career, the power of music, and more.
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When talking about the title and contents of her album, DiFranco explains that it is as much about her personal journey as it is about the state of the world.
“I like to play this game with myself,” DiFranco began. “Take any song on this new record, for instance. When I’m singing it for people, sometimes I imagined singing it to my lover, my husband, and sometimes I imagined singing it to the president or people in power. Just hearing how it fits on the different levels, I guess. Revolutionary Love in all these contexts, in all these life’s trials and relationships, whether they be with the big and far away or the very near and dear, that I think is the quest.”
As far as how DiFranco came to love music, she recalls the moment she started playing guitar around age nine as an instant connection. She also admitted that before getting into music she thought she wanted to be a dancer or artist.
“There was something about the music thing, there was a spark there, you know? It’s like dancing was done over there, for each other. Art was something you did in your room alone. And music was like a key to the kingdom, to the world. It was like this instant connection between you and whoever you were facing. So that was just naturally the thing to follow,” she said.
Additionally, DiFranco has been able to see the impact and unification of people through music firsthand by going on trips abroad. On the podcast, she shares about a trip to Asia where she had the pleasure of connecting with the locals through song.
“I would show up to this little village in a jungle of people hiding for their lives and struggling to survive and facing genocide and there was just this unfathomable, uncrossable chasm between me and the person I was facing. Just veil after veil separating us from each other. But then everybody would gather because here were these freaks showing up in their village, and the first thing that would happen to break the ice is the children would stand up and sing.
“Then everybody would kind of loosen up. The smiles and the laughter. Then the guitar would come out, because we brought a guitar, of course, and as soon as we reciprocated and opened our mouths and sang— boom, that was it. Suddenly, the chasm was gone. And everybody knew each other, and everybody felt each other. Music is just unbelievable in that way,” DiFranco concluded.
For more on DiFranco’s perspective on music, life, performing in a pandemic, and more check out the Stay Human podcast.