"No hit singles. No platinum albums. No compromises." That's as good a summation of Ani DiFranco's career as any well-heeled Madison Avenue copywriter could conjure, but like all things DiFranco, this

"No hit singles. No platinum albums. No compromises." That's as good a summation of Ani DiFranco's career as any well-heeled Madison Avenue copywriter could conjure, but like all things DiFranco, this promotional tag line for her first career retrospective -- the 36-track, double-CD "Canon," due Sept. 11 -- is very much home-grown.

The pint-sized folk singer, who founded her own Righteous Babe Records in 1990, has come to define the term "independent musician." A self-described "old-fashioned girl" who built her audience "bar by bar, college by college," DiFranco has defied the odds, selling 4 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and maintaining a devoted fan base all while resisting repeated overtures by major labels.

On "Canon," DiFranco has re-recorded five of her earlier songs, including "Both Hands," "Napoleon" and "Shameless."

DiFranco says, "These five were songs I knew I wanted to include, but couldn't find a single good recording of. In all honesty, if I could have, I probably would have done 36 new tracks, because I second-guess everything I've done in the studio given enough time. But these five I handpicked to represent in a more fortified way."