Ani DiFranco’s playlist

If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.

That’s Ani DiFranco’s motto, and it has been for the last 30 years.

The DIY queen of indie folk rock was just 19 when she launched Righteous Babe Records, her own label through which she has released more than 20 albums on her own terms.

“I looked at the music industry with idealistic and political eyes and I saw a lot of profit oriented people in that big business and that didn’t seem like the right direction for me,” Ani says when I asked what drove her to create her own label back in 1989.

“Those were not the people I wanted to meet and not the people I wanted to work with or learn from. Being independent meant that I chose this whole other world full of people who inspire me and taught me things.”

Ani’s independent direction wasn’t an easy route. It was a long, bumpy road and Ani considered changing course a number of times along the way.

“The first decade was tough,” she admits. “It was a ‘starving artist affair’ with me driving around by myself building an audience over the course of a decade and witnessing other people do that much quicker. It was hard to keep reminding myself along the way.”

But Ani’s growing, adoring fanbase and her vision and high hopes for her little indie label kept her going.

“I knew I had to see it through,” she says.

“When I started Righteous Babe, I remember hoping that someday it grows into a label that is bigger than me, a label that has other artists on it. I hoped that I was starting something that wasn’t just a vehicle for me to get my music out to an audience, but something more than that. And it did. Being able to help other artists makes me feel good. That is a dream come true.”

Since Ani founded Righteous Babe Records, she has signed just about 20 musical acts to her label including acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Kurt Swinghammer and former Squirrel Nut Zippers member Andrew Bird.

As for Ani’s own music career,  she has savored 28 years of complete creative freedom and her success has fueled many tours around the world and earned her 9 Grammy Award nominations.

“This whole adventure still blows my mind and I still find it all fun and intriguing. It’s an amazing ride,” she says. “I feel lucky and in some moments overwhelmed with gratitude because I still have a job in a world where so many don’t.”

As Ani prepares to tour North America once again, I asked the star to put together a playlist made up of her favorite artists.

“I listen to so many different kinds of music. This playlist has infinite possibilities,” she says.

Seeing as Ani’s summer tour brings her to Montreal’s International Jazz Festival in July, she has highlighted the tour stop with a jazz-flavored playlist.


Blue Nile – Alice Coltrane
“When I’m at home I like to listen to a lot of music without vocals. Maybe I find that calming, like an alternate to the rest of my life. Alice Coltrane, the wife of John Coltrane, played piano and harp and has made so many beautiful records that I have spun alone in my abode.”


I Can’t Help It – Betty Carter
“In the singing realm I listen to Betty Carter a lot. She is an amazing jazz singer who I adore.”


Aurora – Jon Hassell
“I also like to listen to meditative music. Jon is a trumpeter who has on occasion played on my records like Revelling/Reckoning and Little Plastic Castle. He makes a lot of meditative music that is almost ambient. I’m a big fan.”


So What – Miles Davis
“Miles Davis, a giant of jazz who doesn’t need my lip service as much as others might who I’m forgetting to mention right now, but he has had a big influence on me. I think I have a lot of weird influences that if I didn’t articulate wouldn’t be obvious.”


Caravan Thelonious Monk
“I love listening to jazz. Thelonious Monk has an influence on me in a melodic sense.”

Ani performs at Montreal’s Théâtre Maisonneuve on Wednesday, July 4. For more tour dates click here. Follow Ani on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Posted by on May 18 2018. Filed under Celebrity Playlist. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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