Ani DiFranco tribute to extol 30-year career

Righteous Babe Sessions

Several Sunshine Coast musicians have been lined up to pay tribute to recording legend and social-cause champion Ani DiFranco in a June 15 afternoon show at the Rockwood Pavilion in Sechelt. 

The Righteous Babe Sessions will celebrate the American musician’s 30 years of folk-rock, poetry, and outspoken promotion of feminism and other progressive movements, said show producer and singer-songwriter Keely Halward. 

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Buffalo, N.Y., native DiFranco started laying down tracks for her own record label, Righteous Babe Records, in 1989, at age 19. She has since composed 20 albums. 

“Ani is an amazing and talented musician, lyricist, and writer,” Halward told Coast Reporter in an interview. “For me and many people in the 90s, Ani DiFranco’s music was pivotal in introducing us to activism and feminism. She was our ground-breaking entry into social justice and empowerment as women, but for men as well.” 

The musicians performing include the duo Sky Parallel (Sarah Noni and Sara Fitzpatrick); Kaia Nielsen, from Bits of String; Anna Lumiere, of Mimosa; Graham Ord, of Anagram; Simon Hocking, from Rakish Angles; Jenny Hocking-Groves of Sweet Cascadia; Baili Clarke and Barry Taylor of Roots Roundup; and Halward, who also plays with Monty Montego. Simon Paradis can’t attend the show in person but will be beamed in as a “virtual” musical guest. 

“It’s a really talented bunch of folks. I’m producing it, but it’s a shared creation among us. We all contribute,” Halward added. “People have selected Ani songs that meant something to them and some of us are working on different mini-collaborations we’ll do together. Who’s playing with who will switch up during the event.” 

Halward said she conceived the idea for a tribute a few years ago, and obviously had no idea at the time that progressive causes would come under threat in the months leading up to the event. 

“Currently reproductive rights being taken away in a sweeping form,” Halward said, in reference to abortion-rights reversals in some U.S. states. “There’s dismantlement of social policies and systems. More then ever, we really need to come together. I think Ani’s is the perfect music to bring us together and to bring light again to some of the issues she spoke of 30 years ago and that we face again today in different forms.” 

Net proceeds from the show, “after the musicians are paid a respectful fee,” will be contributed to the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, Halward said. 

Halward noted that the two-and-a-half-hour show will contain some mature content, and suggested that although it’s June and the Rockwood Pavilion is sheltered, it’s also open-air so “come dressed for the outdoor temperature and maybe bring a blanket to keep you cozy.” 

Showtime is 2 p.m., doors at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $10 for youth, available at The Kube, MELOmania, Strait Music,, and at the door.

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