Ani DiFranco at Britt

Ani DiFranco at Britt

Folk singer, songwriter and guitarist Ani DiFranco is headed back to the Rogue Valley. She will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 2, at the Britt Festivals in Jacksonville.

The outspoken DiFranco has written hundreds of songs, played thousands of shows and started her own record label, Righteous Babe Records.

She's "fixed up a few old buildings" and minimized her carbon footprint before it was trendy, including installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in the renovated church that her label calls home to using organic inks on all the T-shirts she sells.

DiFranco bucked the major label system in the early '90s, opting to release her music on her own terms. The self-described "Little Folksinger" has been called "fiercely independent" (Rolling Stone), "inspirational" (All Music Guide) and "the ultimate do-it-yourself songwriter" (The New York Times).

Her new album, "Red Letter Year," was conceived, sculpted and refined over the course of two years. The album's main themes are love, family and home. Family for DiFranco includes her husband and co-producer Mike Napolitano (Joseph Arthur, The Twilight Singers, Squirrel Nut Zippers) and their 2-year-old daughter, Petah Lucia.

"I've got myself a new mantra," DiFranco says in a press release. "It says: 'Don't forget to have a good time.'"

Born in Buffalo, New York, to Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates, DiFranco started playing Beatles covers at local bars and busking with her guitar teacher, Michael Meldrum, when she was 9. She started writing her own material when she was 15. Living on her own, she played every Saturday night at the Essex Street Pub, and at 16 she graduated from the Visual and Performing Arts High School.

At 18 she moved to New York City, where she took poetry classes at The New School and toured vigorously. Her self-titled debut album was released in 1990. She now lives in New Orleans.

On July 21, 2006, DiFranco received the "Woman of Courage Award" at the National Organization for Women Conference and Young Feminist Summit in Albany, N.Y. The award is given each year to a woman who has set herself apart by her contributions to the feminist movement.

DiFranco has been toasted by the Buffalo News as the "Buffalo's leading lady of rock music." The News further said: "Through the Righteous Babe Foundation, DiFranco has backed various grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility."

Since 2003, DiFranco has been nominated four consecutive times for Best Recording Package at the Grammy Awards, one of which she won, in 2004, for "Evolve."

Opening for DiFranco will be Chris Pureka. A native New Englander, the 27-year-old Pureka came to music at an early age, writing songs on her parents' out-of-tune piano before the age of 8. At 16 she discovered the guitar and began playing in earnest.

Following high school, Pureka attended Wesleyan University, where she was a student of science and graduated to become an assistant in a biology lab at Smith College. In 2001 she released a seven-song, self-titled EP and shortly thereafter landed a three-month national tour with folk poet Alix Olson.

With the release of "Driving North" in 2004, Pureka left science behind and discovered her niche as a touring singer-songwriter. "A New England folkie with a parched, wounded voice and a mean way with an acoustic guitar, Pureka makes romantic depression seem, somehow, invigorating," the L.A. Daily News once said.

The Britt performance may not be suitable for young children. Tickets are $39 reserved, $27 lawn and $18 for children 12 and younger. See brittfest.org or call 773-6077.

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