Ani DiFranco was born in Buffalo, New York, to Elizabeth and Dante DiFranco, who had met while attending MIT. She started playing Beatles covers at local bars and busking with her guitar teacher, Michael Meldrum, at the age of nine.
DiFranco's guitar playing is often characterized by a signature staccato style, rapid fingerpicking and many alternate tunings. She delivers many of her lines in a speaking style notable for its rhythmic variation. Her lyrics, which often include alliteration, metaphor, word play and a more or less gentle irony, have also received praise for their sophistication.
She has continued touring through 2011. As of 2008 her backing band consists of Todd Sickafoose on upright bass, Allison Miller on drums, and Mike Dillon on percussion and vibes.