Alanis Morissette was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to school teachers Alan and Georgia Morissette. Alanis has an older brother, Chad, and a twin brother named Wade. From 1977 to 1980, the family lived in Lahr (Black Forest), Germany.
When she was nine years old, Morissette wrote her first song. With the money saved from her stint on the children's television show You Can't Do That On Television, Morissette released an indie single Fate Stay With Me with the B-side Find The Right Man. She appeared on stage with the Orpheus Musical Theater Society.
In New York City, Morissette landed a spot on Star Search, a popular American talent competition. She used her stage name, Alanis Nadine. Morissette flew to Los Angeles to appear on the show, but lost after one round.
In 1990, Morissette signed with MCA Records Canada and released her full-length debut album, Alanis, in 1991 with producer Leslie Howe. At the time, Morissette dropped her stage name and was credited simply as Alanis. The dance-pop album, which was only released in Canada, went double platinum, and its first single, Too Hot, reached the Top 10 on the Canadian charts. Subsequent singles included Feel Your Love, Walk Away and Plastic.
In 1992, Morissette was nominated for three Juno Awards: Single of the Year, Best Female Pop Record, and Most Promising Vocalist (Female), the last of which she won. In the same year, she released Now Is the Time, her follow-up to Alanis. The album attempted to move away from her debut album's dance-pop sound and featured the single An Emotion Away. However, the album sold less than half the number of copies that her debut album did, and, with her two-album deal with MCA Canada complete, she was without a major label contract.
In 1993, Morissette moved from her home town of Ottawa to Toronto. Living alone for the first time in her life, Morissette met with a group of songwriters, but the results frustrated her. A visit to Nashville a few months later also proved futile.
Morissette began making trips to Los Angeles and working with as many musicians as possible, hoping to meet a collaborator. During this time, Morissette met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard.
According to Ballard, the connection was "instant", and within 30 minutes of meeting each other, they had begun experimenting with different sounds in Ballard's home studio. Ballard and Morissette penned their first song together, called The Bottom Line.
The turning point in their sessions was the song Perfect, which was written and recorded in 20 minutes. Morissette improvised the lyrics on the spot, while Ballard played guitar. The version of the song that appeared on Jagged Little Pill was the only take the pair had ever recorded.
Ballard and Morissette recorded the songs on Jagged Little Pill literally as they were being written. According to Morissette, Ballard was the first collaborator who had encouraged her to express her emotions. By the spring of 1995, Morissette penned a deal with Maverick Records.
In 1995, at the age of 21, Morissette released her first international album, Jagged Little Pill. Since expectations for the album were low, Morissette's manager and long-time friend Scott Welsh would later admit that he did not expect the album to sell any more than around 250,000 copies. The album debuted at number 118 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Things changed quickly when a Los Angeles DJ from an influential radio station stumbled onto You Oughta Know and began playing it non-stop. The song instantly garnered attention and a subsequent music video went into heavy rotation on MTV. The subject of the song, an ex-boyfriend, became the most guessed-about antagonist since Carly Simon's You're So Vain.
While You Oughta Know was a hit, it was the collection of hit singles that followed, that sent Jagged Little Pill to its stellar rise to the top. Following Hand in My Pocket, the third single, Ironic, went on to become Morissette's biggest hit. (However, critics noted that many of the situations described by Morissette did not actually qualify as being ironic.) You Learn and Head Over Feet, the fourth and fifth singles, respectively, kept Jagged Little Pill on the Billboard Top 20 charts for over a year.
Jagged Little Pill went on to sell 16 million copies in the United States, and over 30 million copies worldwide, making it the most successful debut record of all time. In Ireland, just as Under Rug Swept was released in 2002, Jagged Little Pill re-entered the album charts on February 21, 2002 at #72 and reached a peak of #19 on March 7. It It stayed on the chart for nine weeks.
The album was nominated for six Grammy Awards. At the 1996 ceremony, Morissette performed You Oughta Know. That night, Morissette won awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album, and Best Album.
Later that year, Morissette embarked on an 18-month world tour in support of Jagged Little Pill, beginning in small clubs and ending in large venues. She released the DVD Jagged Little Pill Live, which chronicled the bulk of this tour, and later won a Grammy award for Best Video Long Form.
In 2002, after a four year absence, Morissette released her third international studio album Under Rug Swept, with the notable absence of Jagged Little Pill and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie collaborator, Ballard. For the first time, Morissette took on the role of sole writer and producer. She had her band: Joel Shearer, Nick Lashley, Chris Chaney, Gary Novak help her in this. They played the majority of the instruments. However, shortly after recording Alanis hired an entirely new band composed of Jason Orme, Zac Rae, David Levita, and Blair Sinta; who have been with her ever since.
The album spawned the hit single "Hands Clean", while the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 215,000 in the first week. Under Rug Swept would eventually sell close to a million copies in the U.S. alone, though only "Hands Clean" received any substantial radio airplay. The album was overlooked by the Grammy Awards, but Morissette won yet another Juno Award for Producer of the Year.
In December 2002, Morissette released a CD/DVD combination package, Feast on Scraps, which included live concert footage and eight previously unreleased songs from the Under Rug Swept recording sessions. The album was nominated for a Juno Music DVD of the Year award.
In November 2003, Morissette appeared in the off-Broadway play The Exonerated as Sunny Jacobs, a death row inmate freed after proof surfaced that she was innocent.
In May 2004, Morissette released her fourth international studio album, So-Called Chaos. She wrote all of the songs again, and co-produced the album with Tim Thorney and John Shanks.
Selling over 115,000 copies in its first week of release, the album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart to generally favorable critical reviews. The album's lead single, Everything, was released in March 2004, and saw some commercial success on adult contemporary radio. In an effort to avoid a censor "bleep" in the first line of the song, the radio and music video versions changed the word "a$$hole" to "nightmare." The radio and music video version also edited out several verses from the album version. Two other singles, Out Is Through and Eight Easy Steps, soon followed but neither matched the success of Everything. A dance mix of Eight Easy Steps was a top ten hit on US dance music charts.
In June 2004, Morissette announced her engagement to actor and fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds. Morissette expanded her own acting credentials with the July release of the Cole Porter biographical film De-Lovely, in which she performed the song Let's Do It and had a brief role as an anonymous stage performer.
On February 11, 2005, Morissette became a naturalized citizen of the United States while still maintaining her Canadian citizenship. Morissette refers to herself as a Canadian–American.
That same month, she made a guest appearance on the Canadian television show Degrassi: The Next Generation along with Dogma co-star Jason Mewes and director Kevin Smith.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Jagged Little Pill, Morissette released a studio acoustic version on June 13, 2005 entitled Jagged Little Pill Acoustic. CNN reported that the album would be exclusively released through Starbucks' Hear Music retail concept through their coffee shops for a six-week run, much like Ray Charles' successful album Genius Loves Company. This move caused much controversy, with companies such as HMV in Canada removing their entire Morissette catalog for the duration of the deal in protest. The album sold about 330,000 copies in the US and one million worldwide.
The album went into wide release to all retail chains the last week of July. This version included enhanced features not included on the Starbucks release version. The accompanying Jagged Little Pill: Acoustic tour ran for two months in the summer of 2005, with Morissette playing small, intimate theater venues.
On October 14, Morissette released a cover of the 1991 Seal song "Crazy" as the first single from her greatest hits album, Alanis Morissette: The Collection. The song reached number 9 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart.
The Collection was released on November 15, 2005, followed by a limited edition version of the album on December 6, 2005. The limited edition features a DVD including a documentary with videos of two unreleased songs from Morissette's 1996 Can't Not Tour: "King of Intimation" and "Can't Not" (the latter appeared in a reworked version on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie). The DVD also includes a 90-second clip of the unreleased video for the song "Joining You."
In June of 2008, Morissette's fifth international studio album, Flavors of Entanglement was released. It was produced by Guy Sigsworth. The album has sold about 650,000 albums worldwide. Three singles were released from the album, with the first being Underneath. It peaked at number 27 on the U.S. Adult Top 40. Her second release was Not as We which peaked at number 122 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The Deluxe Edition of the album included five bonus tracks.… Expand
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