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Arts & Culture

Ani DiFranco On World Cafe

Ani DiFranco's latest album is <em>Binary</em>.
Patti Perret
Courtesy of the artist
Ani DiFranco's latest album is Binary.

Ani DiFranco's new album, her 20th, is called Binary. And, as is always the case with this artist, the music and the message are intertwined. The music on Binary is textured and ambitious — you can hear DiFranco's adopted home of New Orleans seeping through the floorboards. There are surprising guests, including Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. And while DiFranco usually mixes her own albums, this time she handed over the reins to veteran producer Tchad Blake, who has recently mixed albums for Sheryl Crow, The Pretenders and Andrew Bird.

And the message? Ever since she started her own label, Righteous Babe Records, in 1990, DiFranco has been fearless about tackling all things tricky, tense and important — from human rights to women's reproductive rights to the environment. To call her outspoken would be an understatement. But even she wasn't sure whether one of the lines she had written for her new album went too far.

In this conversation, DiFranco reveals which line that was. She also talks about how her mom's view of the world shaped her feminist ideals, how she ended up living on her own at 15 and how being what she calls an "unparented child" led her to look for relationships with people who took control. That's a surprising revelation from an artist whom a lot of us may view as the epitome of independence. You'll also hear some of the music from Binary, including performances recorded live at World Cafe.

Copyright 2017 XPN

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.
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