Ani DiFranco: Tiny Desk Concert With the help of a backing band that includes Ivan Neville and Jenny Scheinman, the iconic singer-songwriter plays three songs from across her tough and uncompromising career.

Tiny Desk

Ani DiFranco

In a career spanning nearly three decades, Ani DiFranco's music has evolved in countless ways, reflecting everything from a major relocation (from New York to New Orleans) to her acquisition of a funky, shimmery backing band. But she's also kept her core values intact, from her outspoken commitment to progressive social causes to her strenuously maintained independence from the machinery of the music industry.

For her Tiny Desk debut, DiFranco brought a hell of a backing band, with drummer Terence Higgins and singer/violinist Jenny Scheinman joined by none other than Ivan Neville on keyboards. Together, they lend a slithery underpinning of funk to three songs that stretch across much of DiFranco's career. After opening with "Dithering," from 2014's Allergic To Water, DiFranco introduces "Play God" (from this year's Binary) with a monologue about reproductive rights and gender relations; later, she and her band close with 1998's "Swan Dive," which she calls "an early attempt at a happy song."

For DiFranco, now 20 albums into a fruitful career, happy songs come easier than they used to; like anyone who's done anything steadily for 28 years, she's in a different place than she used to be. But on a fundamental level, she's the same tough and uncompromising singer-songwriter she's always been.

Set List

  • "Dithering"
  • "Play God"
  • "Swan Dive"

Musicians

Ani DiFranco (vocals, guitar); Jenny Scheinman (violin, vocals); Ivan Neville (keyboards); Terence Higgins (drums)

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Alyse Young; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Jacob Collier plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 16, 2019. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Jacob Collier

As the NPR staff gathered to watch his performance, Jacob Collier sprinted full bore down the hallway for his set, hardly able to contain his creative energy or enthusiasm.

Priests performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 7, 2019. Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Priests

The punk-infused art band from Washington, D.C. brings a kinder, gentler and sparer version of the group's music to the Tiny Desk.

Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles perform at Tiny Desk on June 11. Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Erin Rae

Every time she performs live, Erin Rae transforms her quiet storms into different hues of squalling introspection.

Sting and Shaggy perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2018. Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

Sting And Shaggy

The two musical legends brought plenty of joy to the Tiny Desk, with an unexpected collaboration that works surprisingly well.

Miya Folick plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 21, 2019. Jenna Sterner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jenna Sterner/NPR

Miya Folick

Miya Folick was raised a Buddhist in Santa Ana, Calif., and is of Ukrainian and Japanese descent. She sings of conviction, not fiction.

Gemma Doherty (left) and Morgan MacIntyre performing as Saint Sister during their Tiny Desk Concert at NPR in Washington, D.C. Michael Zamora/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Zamora/NPR

Saint Sister

The group from Ireland makes music that mixes the organic with the electronic, starting with a large, 34-string lever harp.

Be More Chill plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 10, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Be More Chill

On Broadway, Be More Chill is a playful burst of frenetic energy and silly, stealthy sweetness. At the Tiny Desk, it holds onto that rowdy, generous spirit while stripping down the arrangements.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 4, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Tasha Cobbs Leonard is widely regarded as one of the best gospel singers performing today. Her set at the Tiny Desk moved many at the NPR offices to tears.

Imogen Heap plays a Tiny Desk Conert on May 4, 2019 (Colin Marshall/NPR). Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap takes us through her many musical talents, from her Frou Frou musical partner, Guy Sigsworth — and their first new song in 17 years — to an extraordinary performance with musical gloves.

Idles plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 13, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

IDLES

The British madmen brought fury, cathartic rage and deep thoughts to the Tiny Desk for one of the loudest, most raucous performances in memory.

Back To Top