Folk singer Ani DiFranco, who stopped performing for almost a year due to tendinitis in her wrists, will make her comeback Friday at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, in her newly adopted city.
The Buffalo native moved to New Orleans shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit last year and has remained. DiFranco will play the first night of the festival, which runs throughout the weekend and the following weekend. Other performers at the festival are to include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Keith Urban, Dr. John and Fats Domino.
DiFranco said while she appreciates support of superstar acts, she wishes this year's lineup for the festival was exclusively made up of New Orleans musicians.
"I kind of thought, post-storm, that the most enlightened thing would be to just support the musicians from this part of the country and the audience themselves would be totally into that," she told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "That this would be the year that you wouldn't need big names."
DiFranco vacated New Orleans when Katrina hit but returned soon after — the section of town she lives in was not as heavily damaged as other parts. Still, she remains frustrated by the lack of progress in getting the city back to where it was.
"There's not nearly as much being done or as much help being disseminated as there should be. It's really people helping themselves," she said.
DiFranco, a singer-songwriter and guitarist who owns her own Righteous Babe record label, is known as much for her heavy touring schedule as for her music. But tendinitis forced her to put her music on hold for nine months.
"It was crazy timing for me to be in New Orleans and be quiet during such a time," DiFranco said.
But DiFranco was surprised at how quickly she adapted to being "a person instead of a performer."
"Traveling gets in your blood, and I love performing, I really do like my job, and I had never stopped before ... I thought it would be really hard," she said, before adding with laugh: "It wasn't."
If fans are wondering what DiFranco will sound like after her hiatus, they're not alone. So is DiFranco.
"I don't know what my music is going to sound like until I open my mouth," she said. "Jazz Fest is sort of kicking off my re-entry into the stage."