The University of Winnipeg, Canada, awarded bisexual singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at a Special Convocation last Friday, November 22, 2013.
Ani became a queer/indie music icon in the mid 1990s, her music a staple of many bisexual events. As well as bisexual life, her songs often embrace themes of sexism, heterosexism, racism, and class discrimination.
She appeared on the cover of UK bi magazine Bi Community News in April 2004.
“DiFranco has long been an advocate for social justice and environmental sustainability, and she lives those values as both a performer and entrepreneur,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “Ani is a strong example of courage, tenacity and compassion –characteristics that our university holds in high esteem. We are pleased to welcome Ani to our University community and we are grateful to our partner, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, for its significant role in facilitating our ability to bestow this honour.”
“We are pleased that the University is complementing the presentation of our 2013 Artistic Achievement Award by recognizing Ani’s similarly impressive contribution to social activism,” said Lynne Skromeda, Executive Director, Winnipeg Folk Festival.
“Given The University of Winnipeg’s deep commitment to social justice, sustainability and the arts, it is fitting that we acknowledge DiFranco’s contributions in this way,” said Dr. Angela Failler, Chancellor’s Research Chair and Department Chair, Women’s & Gender Studies, UWinnipeg.
Ani has recorded over 20 albums and collaborated with musicians and artists including Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Gillian Welch, Cyndi Lauper, and Burmese activist and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Honorary Doctor of Letters is conferred upon those who have made a significant contribution to the Arts and Humanities.
(For the uninitiated, the headline is a play on the line “it’s Mr DiFranco to you” in her song about bisexuality “In or Out”)