UWinnipeg presents Ani DiFranco with Honorary Degree
WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg awarded renowned singer-songwriter and performer Ani DiFranco with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at a Special Convocation on Friday, November 22, 2013.
DiFranco helped pioneer the independent music movement and has had a profound impact on the folk music community, including in Winnipeg. Feminist activists recognize her as a cultural icon for her unflinching critiques – expressed in song – of sexism, heterosexism, racism, and class-based discrimination.
“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.
During her early career, DiFranco resisted representation by mainstream record labels and instead established her own independent label, Righteous Babe Records. Today Righteous Babe Records represents up-and-coming as well as established artists, and advocates for social justice efforts related to media activism, reproductive rights, peace and justice movements, arts and education, and other forms of democratic engagement. In 2000 she saved a 19th century church in Buffalo, New York from the wrecking ball and turned it into Babeville, an eco-friendly multi-use arts facility.
“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.
DiFranco’s career spans more than two decades. She has recorded over 20 albums and collaborated with numerous world-class 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. Past UWinnipeg recipients include cellist Zara Nelsova (1985), folk singer – and previous Winnipeg Folk Festival Artistic Achievement Award winner – Oscar Brand, and conductor Bramwell Tovey(1993).
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Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
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