She took a bow to the crowd, everyone looked at her with eyes full of affection and resonation.
The sound of applause lasted for five minutes after she left the stage.
Direct from the folk underground, Ani DiFranco brought the city of Belleville together with her soulful music at Empire Theatre on Sept. 17.
For DiFranco, music is incredibly healing. It is a powerful medicine to her happiness and well being.
“Ever since it entered my life when I was nine years old, when I picked up my guitar, it has been essential. In the time of my life when I’ve been really alone, I’ve always had music. It really saved me,” said DiFranco during a phone interview from New Orleans a week before her show in Belleville.
Even though DiFranco’s music takes on a lot of flavours and a lot of different sounds including jazz, soul, rock and electronica, she still defines herself as a folk musician who creates music with a story.
“Folk music is sub-corporate, community-based and politically radical. This folk underground is where I come from,” said DiFranco.
This kind of integrity and pursuit of independence and creative freedom motivated her to launch her own record label, Righteous Babe Records.
At this stage of DiFranco’s life, she is the mother of two lovely children, and said music is now like a vacation to her. She loves being on the road because she considers music a social act.
“In the modern world, we have been duped into thinking of music as a commodity that people buy and sell. But it’s really something you do with other people, a way to connect yourself and to feel your humanness together,” said DiFranco.
If you’ve seen her on stage, you know that witnessing a live performance by DiFranco is the most inspirational way to receive her music. Not only is her presence on stage energetic and free-spirited, but her ability to connect with the audience during pauses in the set are the real testament to who she is as a person.
DiFranco has many dreams for the world, and she is never shy to express them through her music. Her latest album Allergic to Water still carries her compassion and deepest concerns for human struggles.
DiFranco explains that the reason she named the album after the song Allergic to Water because “the basic idea under that song is what if everything that we imagine are the things that are most essential. The more beautiful and the more important something is, the more difficult and the more painful it would be. That theme flow through a lot of my songs.”
Ever since DiFranco was a young woman learning how to live in the world, she has been a feminist and writing about feminism in her songs.
Now that she is in her forties, feminism has not waned for her, and it has become more important.
“Now I see it as not a quest for women’s emancipation around the globe, it’s human emancipation. I think the core at feminism is patriarchy, and it hurts men and women both. We will never know peace on earth until we reactivate the right hemisphere of feminine, the part of our nature that put relationship before hierarchy, seek connection instead of competition,” said DiFranco.
DiFranco has expectations for the younger generation, and she believes that human kind is educating itself. She thinks that in both America and Canada, there are more progressive thinking people and fewer regressive thinking people.
There is one thing DiFranco wants to say to younger generation: “I know you look now at government and democracy, as incredibly disillusioning and everywhere you see hypocrisy and everywhere you see lies. But I think the only way out of here is to invest in it more. You have to believe in democracy. You have to vote every chance you get.”
If we say music is a magical language, then DiFranco’s music will tell you a story about the magic of understanding and connection. It is her shield against the world, and yet, it is also her sword to save the world.
She expresses that magical language perfectly in the lyrics from her song Splinter:
“Women who bleed and bleed and bleed, women who swim with the tide, women who change when the wind blows, show us we are connected to everything, show us we are not separate from everything.’