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Even at its gentlest, there’s something confrontational about ANOHNI’s music—a challenge to dig fearlessly and passionately into the self and come back with the truth. Sometimes it sounds as beautiful as 2005’s soulful I Am a Bird Now, sometimes as harsh as 2016’s heavily electronic HOPELESSNESS, but the sense of resilience is always the same. “We’re gonna need some tenderness if we’re going to be able to withstand the truth about who we are, and what we’ve done,” she told The Atlantic magazine around the release of 2023’s My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross. “We’re going to have to find ways to forgive ourselves.” Born in Chichester, England, in 1971, ANOHNI spent her adolescence in the San Francisco Bay Area absorbing the expressive art pop of Kate Bush, Alison Moyet, Marc Almond, and Boy George before moving to New York and embedding herself in the world of performance art and experimental theater. Her music would become a deep expression of herself, and a blueprint for subverting cultural norms in ways both subtle (her fluttering voice) and explicit (a song like “For Today I Am a Boy”). Her earliest songs, with the chamber-pop group the Johnsons, came out in 2000 (Antony & The Johnsons), followed by a steady but unhurried series of albums whose mix of ethereality and directness made her a rare but singular voice. Like Lou Reed and Björk, she’s not always comforting—but you can trust she’s being honest.

New York, NY, United States
October 24, 1971
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