As a singer, songwriter, activist and independent entrepreneur, Ani DiFranco has been setting her own pace—and encouraging countless admirers to do the same—for more than 20 years. But while she has been known as the “Little Folksinger,” her music has grown far beyond her acoustic solo roots in cozy venues to embrace jazz, soul, electronica and even more distant sounds. All of which are featured in DiFranco’s new Righteous Babe release, Allergic To Water,where she also blends abstract imagery and deceptively understated melodies with personal reflections on her life in New Orleans where she is now raising her two children with her partner, producer Mike Napolitano.
DiFranco adds that becoming a mother has brought her closer to listeners who have followed her music since she began performing in New York City during the early 1990s. But widespread attention never prevented her from holding on to her integrity, and independence. A strong belief in human rights has run throughout her work, including when she played at numerous benefit concerts around the world. At a time when record labels still held an oversized influence, DiFranco stood ahead of the curve in launching her own Righteous Babe Records. The company has released more than 20 of her albums to date, ranging from the popular two-disc live album, Living In Clip (1997), to the expansive To The Teeth (1999), which included such guests as legendary R&B saxophonist Maceo Parker and Prince.
Some stellar traditional New Orleans musicians and jazz players contributed to her 2012 album, Which Side Are You On, and the Crescent City also informs Allergic To Water, which is one of her most intimate and musically expansive recordings. This autumn, DiFranco will tour internationally behind Allergic To Water and the album’s high-profile guests will accompany her stellar trio of bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Terence Higgins on several stops. Violinist Jenny Scheinman will open and sit in at some points, as will keyboardist Ivan Neville.
Powerfully engaging and authentic in attitude, spoken word poet Shane Koyczan's explorations are relevent to our times in the way that Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Downie and Leonard Cohen are to theirs. But unlike the musicians to whom he's often compared, poets rarely infiltrate pop culture. Koyzan emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice.
Koyzan is not only a writer and spoken word virtuoso, but also a multi-media spoken word artist. His first published collection - Visiting Hours - was the only work of poetry selected by both the Guardian and the Globe and Mail for the Best Books of the Year lists in 2005. Destined to become a future classic, Visiting Hours is now in its third edition, and includes We Are More.