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Buffalo's leading lady of rock music, Ani DiFranco, was given the National Organization of Women's Woman of Courage award Friday afternoon at the group's 40th annual convention in the Albany Crowe Plaza Hotel ballroom.

Upon accepting the award, DiFranco surprised the crowd by announcing that she is 12 weeks pregnant, due in February. The father, New Orleans native Mike Napolitano, produced her upcoming album "Reprieve."

Latifa Lyles, NOW's vice president of membership, presented the award, lauding DiFranco for her music and her independent thinking, according to the Associated Press.

DiFranco has released all 18 of her albums -- including the upcoming August release, "Reprieve" -- on the Buffalo-based Righteous Babe Records she founded in 1990.

The prolific recording artist has written passionately about the female condition -- in songs and spoken-word tracks -- addressing abortion, sexism and rape to name but a few recurring topics.

DiFranco is the first musician to receive the award, given each year to a woman who has set herself apart by her contributions to the feminist movement.

Past winners include singer and actress Barbra Streisand and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Through the Righteous Babe Foundation, DiFranco has backed various grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility.

With all of her successes, though, she hasn't forgotten about Buffalo -- recently converting the old Asbury Delaware United Methodist Church into an intimate entertainment venue, called The Church, at a personal expense of almost $3 million.

The 1,200-seat concert hall is also the new home for Righteous Babe, which relocated there in March.

"Ani has had a successful career. She had a choice to invest in the stock market or invest in her community, and she chose to invest in her community," her manager, Scot Fisher, told The Buffalo News in January.

e-mail: ohearey@buffnews.com