Ani DiFranco has been stunning and delighting listeners ever since she was a teenager in Buffalo, New York, playing in bars she was not old enough to enter. Rather than waiting for some A&R bigwig to sign her, Ani simply created her own label, Righteous Babe Records, in her hometown, eventually turning down legions of potential deals when she realized they had nothing to offer that she couldn’t provide herself.
These days, the self-described “Little Folksinger” is packing joints like Carnegie Hall and amphitheaters around the world, though she still makes each venue she plays feel as cozy as a living room and as sweaty as a neighborhood dive. That DIY label of hers now has a new headquarters in a long-neglected Buffalo church that was slated for demolition and is now a combination performance venue and contemporary arts center. RBR is home to all of Ani’s CDs along with an eclectic hand-picked roster of artists whose music is as unclassifiable and unpredictable as her own.
Meanwhile, over the years Ani has collaborated with Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Dar Williams, the Twilight Singers, Jeff Klein, Bruce Cockburn, John Gorka, and Maceo Parker on their albums; she has produced recordings by Hamell on Trial, Dan Bern, Utah Phillips, Janis Ian, Michael Meldrum, and others. Along the way, she has inspired countless other musicians to rewrite the rules of the recording industry by striving for self-sufficiency and refusing to allow art to be subsumed by commerce. The broadside In or Out is lyrics.