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Ani DiFranco’s Emotionally Charged Journey in Her First Year in N.Y.C.

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In the late 80s and early 90s, I started reading Audre Lorde and Alice Walker and Judy Grahn and bell hooks and Adrienne Rich and Lucille Clifton. These poets and philosophers and writers seismically unlocked me to myself. I grew up in a mans world, and I was taught everything through a mans eyes in a mans words. It wasnt until I read these women that I realized, Oh, theres more.

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When I started getting legit gigs at folk and roots music festivals, they would throw you onstage with other performers. There might be a singer from Guam, some Tuvan throat singers, some African dudes with guitars and an Eastern European choir. We didnt share a verbal language, but we could talk to each other through music and become friends in this way.

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The first time I played Jazz Fest, I thought, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Every time I was not on tour, I would go to New Orleans, because I wanted to go where I felt inspired. Then I started renting an apartment, then I fell in love with a local, and he was my reason to stay and make a home. Ive been there about 20 years, and the shine has not worn off one bit.

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Ive smoked a lot of pot in my day, and I know it to be a really instrumental element of my awakening. I havent engaged in mushrooms as much, but I feel like it is also fundamental to human evolution. Whole genres of music and artistic movements have evolved and moved forward hand in hand with these gifts of nature.

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When I moved to New York, I was at the New School studying, and I found myself reading books and talking about them. Its like, Oh my God, this is really important stuff. The format of a book, its a road deeply into another persons mind and life, to a whole other way of being, to whole other worlds, that I dont find paralleled in any other genre of art.

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