Ani DiFranco on new album “Revolutionary Love,” career and marriage

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

▶ Watch Video: Singer Ani DiFranco on career, new album “Revolutionary Love”

Irving Plaza in New York City is one of the venues that helped establish singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco as a singular talent. Independent, adored and prolific, DiFranco’s latest “Revolutionary Love” is her 22nd album. Critics are calling the album “searing” and “hopeful.” “Revolutionary Love” is also heavily influenced by jazz.

“For me, it’s basically about showing up to the hard labor of good change, of truth and justice with love in your heart,” she told CBS News’ Jeff Glor.

One of the videos for the new album got her cited for trespassing on oil company land, an act of artistic activism that put DiFranco before a judge.

“You just got arrested recently and were in court this morning?” Glor asked.

“Yes. Zoom court. Zoom court is about as fun as Zoom anything,” DiFranco laughed.

Her passions have taken her around the world many times over. The Buffalo, New York-born singer-songwriter grew up in a house with no walls, which she said did not work so great because her family was not at peace.

“My mother was an architect and my father an engineer. And this was their baby. This was their project, this house. It was a carriage house that they turned into our family abode,” she said. “And their vision was to have no walls. To have only intimacy and togetherness, I guess. The only door was on the bathroom.”

At the age of nine, DiFranco met a local musician who introduced her to the Buffalo folk scene. She moved out of her house when she was 15 years old and, by the early 1990s, wound up in New York City, where she became an indie star. 

Sixteen years ago, she made a move to New Orleans, finding motherhood and a hard challenge for her: marriage. DiFranco said she wrote her new album while in her second marriage.

“And it was really difficult for my fella for a lotta years when the kids were little, and he was holding down the fort all by himself. And, you know, you are struggling in these different spheres, and you grow apart. And resentments build. But this album, this new album of mine, is sort of like the breakup album without the breakup. We made it through,” she said.

DiFranco has produced and distributed every single one of her albums independently on Righteous Babe Records. She said she sometimes regretted not doing a major record studio album and working with a big producer.

“I look back at some of the things that I’ve recorded forever, and I think, ‘Dang. Those are some good songs, and I didn’t do them justice,'” she recalled. “And if only I had brought in the team of professionals, you know, I was just a kid with … a stubborn kid who was just like, ‘I’m not gonna wait around for the team of professionals. I’m gonna do it. It’s not perfect, but hey.’ But sometimes I do look back at my records, and I think, ‘Sorry, songs.'”

DiFranco’s brutal honesty is something her dedicated fans have seen for more than three decades, and she said she hopes she made a difference.

“I hope that I have helped more than I’ve harmed,” DiFranco said.” It always felt ironic that I was described again and again and again for decades as an angry woman, you know? ‘Cause, you know, and then…”

“It’s an easy label. It’s an easy label,” Glor said.

“Yeah. But I feel like I’ve always come from that place of revolutionary love. I love my country and that’s why I fight for it in my way you know it is all out of love,” she said.

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