Ani DiFranco has had many labels — singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, poet, activist, feminist, businesswoman — but at the end of the day she’s just Ani. Unlike so many in her business, DiFranco has flourished by staying true to her character and forging her own path.
DiFranco’s combination of witty lyrics, no-holds-barred attitude and energy has made her a successful artist for nearly three decades. Equally likely to entrance you with soft-spoken stream-of-consciousness vocals as wake you up with in-your-face grit, DiFranco sees her music as a way to bring people together and leave them ready to carry on fighting for the progressive causes she champions.
Eugene is a natural fit for DiFranco’s music and message, and the city has been a fixture of her tours for years. One of her band members, bassist Todd Sickafoose, lives in Eugene.
DiFranco remembers “back in the day” playing a show and getting a taste of local color. “Some young feminists brought me out and it was a very Eugene experience,” she says. “There was herbal tea and tapestries — I was all the way there.”
When DiFranco last visited Eugene in the winter of 2016 on her Vote, Dammit! tour, she spoke of a wave of optimism she felt while touring, and despite the election of the man she refers to as “the Cheeto,” DiFranco says she’s “doing better than many on the optimism tip.”
“I feel there is a lot of value to having the veils lifted, so to speak,” DiFranco says. “We have more of a capacity to address social and political ills and diseases that we’ve been living with forever. I think this is really a time of possibilities and great movement.”
DiFranco says the energy of resistance and progressive activism at her concerts and on the streets is what makes her feel strongest and most hopeful.
“As someone who’s been really political and outspoken my whole career, if not life, I’ve never felt less alone. I’ve never felt a more receptive atmosphere around myself for people just willing to get into it, to get involved, to confront the difficult stuff.”
“I thank goddess that I have this job right now,” DiFranco says. “If I was at home yelling at my TV, I’d be doomed.”
Ani DiFranco with Madame Ghandi plays at 8 pm Friday, Nov. 10, at the McDonald Theatre. $29.50-$35 at mcdonaldtheatre.com. All ages.