Thankful for this righteous babe

Feelings evoked from this musical goddess...

During the pivotal years of latter adolescence, most find themselves flailing to capture a persona that feels authentic yet entirely unique, while ironically emulating others. During this time, it's not uncommon to try on different hair colors, college courses (hello ecofeminism), social groups, and music taste. This identity eventually chizzles itself into a perfect and one-of-a-kind you. While these years are excruciating with confusion and misdirection, there are beautiful passions born and nourished here. Pieces that feel like home, even after a lifetime has passed. One big chunk of my insides were fashioned from the feelings evoked from this musical goddess- Miss Ani Difranco.

A welling up in my chest...

My first experience with Ani came from an eccentric roommate, whom I admired and feared. Her strong spirit and beauty was intimidating for this zygote of a young woman. She had gone to an Ani concert downtown, and most of the people I associated with were chattering about this epic feminist folksinger. I didn't have many thoughts on feminism at the time, and felt a bit out of the loop since everyone I knew appeared to be a die-hard fan. I had never heard her music, and was semi-resistant to things out of my scope. Lucky for me, my roommate had bought Ani's new CD at the concert and began obsessively listening to it in our shared space. Change was afoot. Not only was I moved by her impassioned lyrics, but the raw honesty I heard in her voice resulted in this new feeling. A welling up in my chest. Dare I say- this was inspiration? I felt an immediate kinship to her. I had never associated pride or a sense of empowerment with being a woman. Until then, it had seemed like a burden to navigate this man's world. But in her music, I found something that if bottled- could bathe the world with possibility. 

Falling is like this- Ani Difranco

Falling is like this- Ani Difranco

Best breakup album of all time...

The album Dilate is known amongst fans as possibly the best breakup album of all time (followed by Alanis Morissette's Jagged little pill, of course.) As if it were divinely plopped in my lap, this discovery of Ani Difranco took place just before a messy breakup that left my heart metaphorically slaughtered by Texas Chainsaw Massacre's leading man. Gathering my meager tips after rent money and a $200.00 power bill, I sauntered down to the Record Exchange where I purchased my own copy to obsess over. To be frank, Ani knows how to get her message across. This is often exhibited with colorful language. Involving the matters of the heart, some messages can't be delivered with squeaky clean lyrics. I support this. There is great satisfaction in singing along to unbridled expressions of anger. That being said, here is the song that grabbed my inner power and sent her out in the world to rise from the ashes.

*Strong language*

Kaleidoscope of questionable choices...

You can't unring a bell. Once I had tapped into this world of absolute empowerment and expression, it was impossible to move backward. On my own, in this young adult kaleidoscope of questionable choices, I found solace and faith in myself through her lyrics. Not only was she able to comfort the brokenhearted and angry, but she was a political and social advocate addressing women's rights, racism, poverty, and sexual assault through her songwriting and slam poetry. I felt that her tiny frame held more power than any stereotypical representation of masculinity. Thor wouldn't stand a chance. While she is certainly beloved of all feminists, lesbians are known to flock to her music like a moth to flame. Ani addressed sexuality in her music long before it was deemed trendy with Katy Perry's hit, "I Kissed a Girl."  In the song "In or Out," Ani talks about her own bisexuality and the judgment she has received for her ever-evolving love interests. 

Guess there’s something wrong with me
guess I don’t fit in
no one wants to touch it
no one knows where to begin
I’ve got more than one membership
to more than one club
and I owe my life
to the people that I love.
- In or Out by: Ani Difranco

Her music eliminated feelings of isolation and depression for outliers everywhere. So your feelings are too big to contain inside your skin? She knows how that feels. Don't fit in with social norms? She's cool with that. Social problems have you feeling powerless and cloaked in futility? She's here to commiserate. During times in my life in which I felt weaker than a newborn kitten left to die in the cold, her music acted as a metaphoric defibrillation to my drained source of female power. I knew that in any state, I could play the following song and feel lifted back to life.  

I'm no Heroine (live) Living in Clip...

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of witnessing Ani perform live for the forth time. When she bounds onstage with taped fingers and hand warmers, grabbing her freshly tuned guitar- the crowd goes wild. Thankfully, she plays for intimate venues that allow the audience to experience a camaraderie of shared belief systems and passion for her music spanning over 20 years. I was in the front row, and while I battled the uncontrollable urge to sing along to my favorite songs or stand in silent awe as I soaked up a moment in time, it felt like I was witnessing a miracle. As I watched her play, I thought of the thousands of hours of hard work and effort she has put into this skillset, but honestly- some of this had to be planted in her DNA as an absolute, and undeniable gift. She is a spectacular site to witness. I shared this experience with several from my tribe, exchanging knowing glances, and heart shaped hand gestures. My tank was filled.

I’m no heroine
At least, not last time I checked
I’m too easy to roll over
I’m too easy to wreck
I just write about
What I should have done
I just sing
What I wish I could say
And hope somewhere
Some woman hears my music
And it helps her through her day.
-I’m no Heroine by: Ani Difranco

Immediately following this dose of greatness...

As an artistic soul, I began to itch with the need to expel creation- almost immediately following this dose of greatness. My head buzzed with ideas, plots and schemes to manifest my own expressions of joy, disappointment, and societal upheaval. I'm so thankful for Ani Difranco. Her place in this world has not only provided me with comfort in times of distress, but reassured me that as a woman in this world, that my voice can be heard and reverberate through my audience in whatever medium I choose. Music is a true gift, and artists like this- keep giving for a lifetime. What are you thankful for? Happy Gratitude Tuesday.