Ani DiFranco

On this date in 1970, punk folksinger Ani DiFranco was born in Buffalo, N.Y. Ani (pronounced AH-nee) started singing Beatles covers in local bars as a youngster. By 15 she had begun writing her own material and was living on her own. She graduated at age 16 from the Visual and Performing Arts High School in Buffalo and moved to New York City at 18.

She has released over 20 albums as of this writing. Sing Out calls her lyrics “jaw-dropping.” Spurning offers from indie and major labels alike, DiFranco started her own record company, Righteous Babe Records. She not only writes and publishes her own songs and produces her own recordings, but even creates the artwork. An in-demand artist, she tours acoustic, college and rock club circuits, winning over a diverse audience.

Her freethought views are revealed in such songs as “Animal” from “Educated Guess” (2004), in which she sings about growing up “surrounded by willful ignorance” and “the religions of men.” She said in a May 2000 interview with The Progressive: “I’m not a religious person myself. I’m an atheist. I think religion serves a lot of different purposes in people’s lives … but then, of course, institutional religions are so problematic.”

DiFranco in 2017 in Napa Valley, Calif. Photo via Shutterstock by Sterling Munksgard. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation