Gracie and Rachel
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Widely considered a feminist icon, Grammy winner Ani DiFranco is the mother of the DIY movement, being one of the first artists to create her own record label in 1990. While she has been known as the “Little Folksinger,” her music has embraced punk, funk, hip hop, jazz, soul, electronica and even more distant sounds. Her collaborators have included everyone from Utah Phillips to legendary R&B saxophonist Maceo Parker to Prince. She has shared stages with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, Greg Brown, Billy Bragg, Michael Franti, Chuck D., and many more. Her most recent album Binary was released in June 2017 on Righteous Babe Records and her memoir No Walls and the Recurring Dream was released in May 2019 by Viking Books.
Rejecting the major label system has given her significant creative freedom. She has referenced her staunchly-held independence in song more than once, including in "The Million You Never Made" (Not a Pretty Girl), which discusses the act of turning down a lucrative contract, "The Next Big Thing" (Not So Soft), which describes an imagined meeting with a label head-hunter who evaluates the singer based on her looks, and "Napoleon" (Dilate), which sympathizes sarcastically with an unnamed friend who did sign with a label. After recording with Ani in 1999, Prince described the effects of her independence. "We jammed for four hours and she danced the whole time. We had to quit because she wore us out. After being with her, it dawned on me why she's like that – she's never had a ceiling over her."
Her lyrics are rhythmic and poetic, often autobiographical, and strongly political. “Trickle Down” discusses racism and gentrification, while “To The Teeth” speaks about the need for gun control, and “In or Out” questions society’s traditional sexuality labels. Most recently, the 2016 single "Play God" has become a battle cry for reproductive rights. Rolling Stone said of her in 2012, "The world needs more radicals like Ani DiFranco: wry, sexy, as committed to beauty and joy as revolution."
Over the years she's performed at countless benefit concerts, donated songs to many charity albums, and given time and energy to many progressive causes. She has learned from and demonstrated beside Gloria Steinem, Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich. In 2004, she marched in the front row of the March for Women's Lives along with Margaret Cho, Janeane Garofalo, Whoopi Goldberg, and many others, later performing on the main stage. She has beaten the drum for voter registration and turnout with "Vote Dammit" tours in multiple presidential election years, including most recently in 2016. She's currently on the board of Roots of Music, an organization that provides at-risk youth with support and musical education in New Orleans, and the creative council of EMILY’s List, which helps elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.
As an iconic songwriter and social activist, she has been the inspiration for woman artists and entrepreneurs for over two decades. She has been featured on the covers of SPIN, Ms., Relix, High Times, and many others for her music and activism. She is the idol of empowered women who came of age in the 90s and continues to bring younger fans into her fold. From Alice Walker to Amy Schumer, Ani is respected by wordsmiths across milieux and generations. She blazed the trail for self-directed artist careers and has been cited by musicians from Prince to Bon Iver as an inspiration to release their own art outside of the major label system.
Ani has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Grammy for best album package (Evolve), the Woman of Courage Award from the National Organization for Women, the Gay/Lesbian American Music Award for Female Artist of the Year, and the Woody Guthrie Award. At the 2013 Winnipeg Folk Festival she received their prestigious Artistic Achievement Award, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg. In 2017, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from A2IM (a nonprofit trade organization that represents independent record labels) and the Outstanding Achievement for Global Activism Award from A Global Friendship.
Bio Gracie and Rachel are a study in duality: light and dark, classical leanings with a pop sensibility, Californians in New York. On their debut full-length, Gracie and Rachel pit anxiety and tension against an almost serene self-assurance. The duo announced the album via NPR alongside the introspective video premiere for Only A Child. The self-titled record quickly won the hearts of NPR fans who voted them to #4 on NPR’s Your Favorite New Artist, with Bob Boilen describing the music as having “a terrific tension in the sound, an underpinning of mystery set against a baroque, but modern, pop foreground.” The duo has since recorded an NPR Tiny Desk Concert and was named to NPR 100 Best Songs of 2017, Bob Boilen’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 and Slingshot 2018, public radio’s artist incubator program for emerging artists.
Their music is a compelling juxtaposition of Gracie’s piano and lead vocals and Rachel’s violin and voice, augmented with stark percussion. The nine orchestral pop songs on Gracie and Rachel tell a story that’s rooted in the truth —their truth — but retain an enigmatic air that makes them relatable to anyone who has ever found their heart racing with doubt and pushed forward regardless or triumphed in subverting expectations imposed from within. Seen on stages with Ani DiFranco, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Joseph, and San Fermin, the live experience displays a passionate, tangible quality to their deeply rooted bond, an intimate connection that is vibrantly apparent on stage and equally imprinted on their record.
Official Website http://www.gracieandrachel.com
College Street Music Hall
238 College Street
New Haven, CT, 06510