Alanis Nadine Morissette (born June 1, 1974) is a successful Canadian-American singer-songwriter and occasional actress.
Alanis Morissette's 1995 international debut Jagged Little Pill became one of the most successful albums of all time. The raw intensity of the album's first single, "You Oughta Know", led Morissette to be labeled the "first lady of rage", though the album itself contained only two songs that hinted at any sort of anger or resentment. Since the extraordinary success of Jagged Little Pill, Morissette's popularity has waned as singers such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera gained attention, though she is still one of the industry's premiere female singer/songwriters. Her latest album, So-Called Chaos, on which she received sole writing and co-producing credits, sold over 115,000 copies in its first week of release.
Alanis Morissette was born on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to schoolteachers Alan and Georgia Morissette. She has an older brother, Chad, and a twin brother, Wade.
Morissette showed a love for singing and songwriting at an early age. When she was 9 years old, she went to the home of singer Olivia Newton-John, one of her early idols, and said over the intercom at the front gates: "Hi, I'm Alanis. I want to meet you one day and I want to be famous, just like you."
In that same year, Morissette wrote her first song, "Fate Stay With Me", at the age of 9.
With the help of her childhood mentor Leslie Howe, Morissette released "Fate Stay With Me" when she was 11 years old. A year later, Morissette auditioned for a role on the Canadian children's television show You Can't Do That on Television, shot in Ottawa, her hometown. Morissette became a recurring cast member, but left after one season.
With the support of her parents and a relentless desire to succeed, Morissette traveled with Howe to New York City to meet with record executives, an experience that she would later write about in songs such as "UR" (from the album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie).
In New York City, Howe helped Morissette land a spot on Star Search, a popular televised American talent competition. Morissette flew to Los Angeles to appear on the show, but lost after one round.
In 1990, Alanis Morissette signed with MCA Records and released her debut full-length album, Alanis, in 1991. At the time, Morissette was credited simply as "Alanis" to avoid possible confusion with fellow Canadian singer Alannah Myles. The album went double platinum, and its first single, "Too Hot", reached the Top 10 on the Canadian charts. The subsequent singles "Feel Your Love", "Walkaway" and "Plastic" were also modest hits.
In 1992, Morissette was nominated for three Juno Awards: Single of the Year, Best Dance Record, and Most Promising Female Vocalist (which she won). In the same year, she released Now Is The Time, her follow-up to Alanis. The album attempted to move Morissette away from her debut album's dance-pop sound. However, Now Is The Time sold less than half the number of copies of her debut album, and Morissette lost her recording contract with MCA Records.
In 1993, Alanis Morissette moved from her hometown of Ottawa to Toronto. Living alone for the first time in her life, Morissette met with a bevy of songwriters, but the results frustrated her. A move to Nashville a few months later also proved unfruitful.
Morissette began making trips to Los Angeles and working with as many musicians as possible, in the hopes of meeting a collaborator. During this time, Morissette met with 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. Despite Morissette's na´vetÚ, Ballard knew he was dealing with a woman wise beyond her years.
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 to Ballard's delicate guitar strums. The version of the song that appeared on Jagged Little Pill was the only take the two had ever recorded. With "Perfect", the floodgate was opened, and soon Morissette's thoughts and emotions began pouring onto paper at a frenzied pace.
In Los Angeles, Morissette lived in a small, one-room apartment. On the way home from the supermarket one afternoon, she was robbed at gunpoint. A man rummaged through her bag while another held a gun to her head and made her lie face down on the pavement. Morissette later revealed that her only concern was for the book of lyrics she was carrying in her bag. To her relief, the lyrics were untouched. They would eventually make up the bulk of Jagged Little Pill.