Alanis Nadine Morissette (born June 1, 1974) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and occasional actress. She has won 12 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards. Morissette began her career in Canada, and as a teenager recorded two dance-pop albums, Alanis and Now Is the Time, under MCA Records. Her debut album was the rock-influenced Jagged Little Pill, which remains the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S., and the highest selling debut album worldwide, selling 30 million units worldwide. Her following album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, was released in 1998 and was a success as well. Morissette took up producing duties for her subsequent albums, which include Under Rug Swept, So-Called Chaos and Flavors of Entanglement. Morissette has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. In February 2005, Morissette became a naturalized citizen of the United States while maintaining her Canadian citizenship.
Alanis Morissette was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Georgia Mary Ann Feuerstein, a Hungarian-born teacher, and Alan Richard Morissette, a French-Canadian high school principal. Alanis has a twin brother, Wade, and an older brother, Chad. At six, she began playing the piano. In 1984, Morissette wrote her first song, "Fate Stay with Me", which she sent to a local folk singer, Lindsay Morgan, who recruited Morissette as her prot?g?. Morissette released "Fate Stay with Me" as a single via a label she founded with Morgan. A limited number of copies were pressed, and it received little airplay. In elementary school she was identified as gifted and attended St. Elizabeth's PGL (program for gifted learners). During her high school years, she attended Immaculata High School and Glebe Collegiate Institute in Ottawa while continuing to pursue a career in the arts. In 1986, she was a cast regular on the CTV/Nickelodeon show, You Can't Do That on Television. In 1987, Morissette competed in the inaugural year of the Rising Star Talent Competition, an amateur contest held in Toronto at the Canadian National Exhibition.
At a New York City audition, Morissette landed a spot on Star Search, a U.S. talent competition on which she used the stage name of Alanis Nadine, her first and middle names. Morissette flew to Los Angeles to appear on the show, but lost after one round. In 1988, Morissette signed a publishing deal with MCA Publishing, which helped to fund her record deal with one of its independent subsidiary labels.
1990?1992: Alanis and Now Is the Time
MCA Records released Morissette's debut album, Alanis, in Canada only in 1991, and Morissette co-wrote every track on the album with its producer, Leslie Howe. By the time it was released, she had dropped her stage name and was credited simply as Alanis. The dance-pop album went platinum, and its first single, "Too Hot", reached the top twenty on the RPM singles chart. Subsequent singles "Walk Away" and "Feel Your Love" reached the top forty. Morissette's popularity, style of music and appearance, particularly that of her hair, led her to become known as the Debbie Gibson of Canada; comparisons to Tiffany were also common. During the same period, she was a concert opening act for rapper Vanilla Ice. Morissette was nominated for three 1992 Juno Awards: Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year (which she won), Single of the Year and Best Dance Recording (both for "Too Hot").
In 1992, she released her second album, Now Is the Time, a ballad-driven record that featured less glitzy production than Alanis and contained more thoughtful lyrics. Morissette wrote the songs with the album's producer, Leslie Howe, and Serge C?t?. She said of the album, "people could go, 'Boo, hiss, hiss, this girl's like another Tiffany or whatever'. But the way I look at it ... people will like your next album if it's a kick-ass one." As with Alanis, Now Is the Time was released only in Canada and produced three top forty singles?"An Emotion Away", the minor adult contemporary hit "No Apologies", and "(Change Is) Never a Waste of Time". It sold a little more than half the copies of her first album, however, and was a commercial failure. With her two-album deal with MCA Canada complete, Morissette was left without a major label contract.
1993?1997: Move to Los Angeles and Jagged Little Pill
In 1993, after graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa to Toronto. Living alone for the first time in her life, she met with a number of songwriters, but the results frustrated her. A visit to Nashville a few months later also proved fruitless. In the hopes of meeting a collaborator, Morissette began making trips to Los Angeles and working with as many musicians as possible.
During this time, she met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard. The two wrote and recorded Morissette's third album, Jagged Little Pill, and by the spring of 1995, she had signed a deal with Maverick Records.
The two-time Grammy Award-winning song is considered one of Morissette's signature tunes.
Maverick Records released Jagged Little Pill internationally in 1995. The album was expected only to sell enough for Morissette to make a follow-up, but the situation changed quickly when a DJ from KROQ, an influential Los Angeles radio station began playing "You Oughta Know," the album's first single. The song instantly garnered attention for its scathing, explicit lyrics, and a subsequent music video went into heavy rotation on MTV and MuchMusic.
After the success of "You Oughta Know," the album's other hit singles helped send Jagged Little Pill to the top of the charts. "All I Really Want" and "Hand In My Pocket" followed, but the fourth U.S. single, "Ironic", became Morissette's biggest hit. "You Learn" and "Head over Feet", the fifth and sixth singles, respectively, kept Jagged Little Pill in the top twenty on the Billboard 200 albums chart for more than a year. According to the RIAA, Jagged Little Pill is the best-selling international debut album by a female artist, with more than sixteen million copies sold in the U.S.; it sold thirty-three million worldwide, making it the third biggest selling album by a female artist, and the biggest selling debut album of all time, even though it was her third album. Morissette's popularity grew significantly in Canada, where the album was certified twelve times platinum and produced four RPM chart-toppers: "Hand In My Pocket," "Ironic," "You Learn," and "Head over Feet". The album was also a bestseller in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Morissette's success with Jagged Little Pill was credited with leading to the introduction of female singers such as Shakira, Tracy Bonham, Meredith Brooks, Patti Rothberg and, in the early 2000s, Pink and fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne. She was criticised for collaborating with producer and supposed image-maker Ballard, and her previous albums also proved a hindrance for her respectability. Morissette and the album won six Juno Awards in 1996: Album of the Year, Single of the Year ("You Oughta Know"), Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Rock Album. At the 1996 Grammy Awards, she won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song (both for "You Oughta Know"), Best Rock Album and Album of the Year.
Later in 1996, Morissette embarked on an eighteen-month world tour in support of Jagged Little Pill, beginning in small clubs and ending in large venues. Taylor Hawkins, who later joined the Foo Fighters, was the tour's drummer. "Ironic" was nominated for two 1997 Grammy Awards?Record of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form?and won Single of the Year at the 1997 Juno Awards, where Morissette also won Songwriter of the Year and the International Achievement Award. The video Jagged Little Pill, Live, which was co-directed by Morissette and chronicled the bulk of her tour, won a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form.
Following the stressful tour, Morissette started practicing Iyengar Yoga for balancing, and after the last December 1996 show, she headed to India for six weeks, accompanied by her mother, two aunts and two female friends.
1998?2000: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and Alanis Unplugged
"Thank U" (1998)
The most successful single from 1998's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie was written after a trip to India.
"That I Would Be Good" (1998)
A live version of this ballad was released to promote 1999's Alanis Unplugged.
Morissette was featured as a guest vocalist on Ringo Starr's cover of "Drift Away" on his 1998 album, Vertical Man, and on the songs "Don't Drink the Water" and "Spoon" on the Dave Matthews Band album Before These Crowded Streets. She recorded the song "Uninvited" for the soundtrack to the 1998 film City of Angels. Although the track was never commercially released as a single, it received widespread radio airplay in the U.S. At the 1999 Grammy Awards, it won in the categories of Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and was nominated for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Later in 1998, Morissette released her fourth album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, which she wrote and produced with Glen Ballard.
Privately, the label hoped to sell a million copies of the album on initial release; instead, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 469,000 copies?a record, at the time, for the highest first-week sales of an album by a female artist. The wordy, personal lyrics on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie alienated many fans, and after the album sold considerably less than Jagged Little Pill, many labelled it an example of the sophomore jinx. However, it received positive reviews, including a four-star review from Rolling Stone. In Canada, it won the Juno Award for Best Album and was certified four times platinum. "Thank U", the album's only major international hit single, was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; the music video, which featured Morissette nude, generated mild controversy. Morissette herself directed the videos for "Unsent" and "So Pure", which won, respectively, the MuchMusic Video Award for Best Director and the Juno Award for Video of the Year. The "So Pure" video features actor Dash Mihok, with whom Morissette was in a relationship at the time.
Morissette contributed vocals to "Mercy" and "Innocence", two tracks on Jonathan Elias's project The Prayer Cycle, which was released in 1999. The same year, she released the live acoustic album Alanis Unplugged, which was recorded during her appearance on the television show MTV Unplugged. It featured tracks from her previous two albums alongside four new songs, including "King of Pain" (a cover of The Police song) and "No Pressure over Cappuccino", which Morissette wrote with her main guitar player, Nick Lashley. The recording of the Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie track "That I Would Be Good", released as a single, became a minor hit on hot adult contemporary radio in America. Also in 1999, Morissette released a live version of her song "Are You Still Mad" on the charity album Live in the X Lounge II. For her live rendition of "So Pure" at Woodstock '99, she was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards. During summer 1999, Alanis toured with singer, songwriter Tori Amos on the 5 And A Half Weeks Tour in support of Amos' album To Venus And Back.
2001?2003: Under Rug Swept and Feast On Scraps
In 2001, Morissette was featured with Stephanie McKay on the Tricky song "Excess", which is on his album Blowback. Morissette released her fifth studio album, Under Rug Swept, in February 2002. For the first time in her career, she took on the role of sole writer and producer of an album. Her band, comprising Joel Shearer, Nick Lashley, Chris Chaney, and Gary Novak, played the majority of the instruments; additional contributions came from Eric Avery, Dean DeLeo, Flea, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Shortly after recording the album Morissette essentially fired this whole band by proposing a huge pay cut (at least 50% for most members) while offering the drummer, Gary Novak, a slightly smaller pay cut but an increase in work and responsibility. This effectively ended the band as it was, and an entirely new band was hired shortly after, featuring Jason Orme, Zac Rae, David Levita, and Blair Sinta, who have been with her since.
Under Rug Swept debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, eventually going platinum in Canada and selling one million copies in the U.S. It produced the hit single "Hands Clean," which topped the Canadian Singles Chart and received substantial radio play; for her work on "Hands Clean" and "So Unsexy," Morissette won a Juno Award for Producer of the Year. A second single, "Precious Illusions," was released, but it did not garner significant success outside Canada or U.S. hot AC radio.
Later in 2002, Morissette released the combination package Feast on Scraps, which includes a DVD of live concert and backstage documentary footage directed by her and a CD containing eight previously unreleased songs from the Under Rug Swept recording sessions. Preceded by the single "Simple Together," it sold roughly 70,000 copies in the U.S. and was nominated for a Juno Award for Music DVD of the Year.
2004?2005: So-Called Chaos, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic and The Collection
The first single from So Called Chaos showcased a more relaxed and self-evaluating Morissette and was a moderate success.
Morissette hosted the Juno Awards of 2004 dressed in a bathrobe, which she took off to reveal a flesh-coloured bodysuit, a response to the era of censorship in the U.S. caused by Janet Jackson's breast-reveal incident during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Morissette released her sixth studio album, So-Called Chaos, in May 2004. She wrote the songs on her own again, and co-produced the album with Tim Thorney and pop music producer John Shanks. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 chart to generally mixed critical reviews, and it became Morissette's lowest seller in the U.S. The lead single, "Everything", achieved major success on adult top 40 radio in America and was moderately popular elsewhere, particularly in Canada, although it failed to reach the top forty on the U.S. Hot 100. Because the first line of the song includes the word asshole, American radio stations refused to play it, and the single version was changed to include the word nightmare instead. Two other singles, "Out Is Through" and "Eight Easy Steps", fared considerably worse commercially than "Everything", although a dance mix of "Eight Easy Steps" was a U.S. club hit.
Morissette embarked on a U.S. summer tour with long-time friends and fellow Canadians Barenaked Ladies, working with the non-profit environmental organization Reverb.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Jagged Little Pill, Morissette released a studio acoustic version, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, in June 2005. The album was released exclusively through Starbucks' Hear Music retail concept through their coffee shops for a six-week run. The limited availability led to a dispute between Maverick Records and HMV North America, who retaliated by removing Morissette's other albums from sale for the duration of Starbucks's exclusive six-week sale. Jagged Little Pill Acoustic sold around 300,000 copies in the U.S., and a video for "Hand in My Pocket" received rotation on VH1 in America. The accompanying tour ran for two months in mid 2005, with Morissette playing small theatre venues. During the same period, Morissette was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
Morissette opened for The Rolling Stones for a few dates of their A Bigger Bang Tour in the fall of 2005.
Morissette released the greatest hits album Alanis Morissette: The Collection in late 2005. The lead single and only new track, a cover of Seal's "Crazy," was a U.S. adult top 40 and dance hit, but it achieved only minimal chart success elsewhere, as did the album. A limited edition of The Collection features a DVD including a documentary with videos of two unreleased songs from Morissette's 1996 Can't Not Tour: "King of Intimidation" and "Can't Not." (A reworked version of "Can't Not" had also appeared on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.) The DVD also includes a ninety-second clip of the unreleased video for the single "Joining You." Morissette contributed the song "Wunderkind" to the soundtrack of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
Alanis performed two songs with Avril Lavigne: Morissette's "Ironic" and Lavigne's "Losing Grip".
2006?present: Flavors of Entanglement
2006 marked the first year in the recorded history of Morissette's musical career that she had not a single concert appearance showcasing her own songs, with the exception of an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in January when she performed "Wunderkind".
On April 1, 2007, Morissette released a tongue-in-cheek cover of The Black Eyed Peas's selection "My Humps," which she recorded in a slow, mournful voice, accompanied only by a piano. The accompanying YouTube-hosted video, in which she dances provocatively with a group of men and hits the ones who attempt to touch her "lady lumps," had received 16,465,653 views on February 15, 2009. Morissette did not take any interviews for a time to explain the song, and it was theorized that she did it as an April Fools' Day joke. Black Eyed Peas vocalist Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson responded by sending Morissette a buttocks-shaped cake with an approving note. On the verge of the release of her latest album, she finally elaborated on how the video came to be, citing that she became very much emotionally loaded while recording her new songs one after the other and one day she wished she could do a simple song like "My Humps" in a conversation with Guy Sigsworth and the joke just took a life of its own when they started working on it.
Morissette performed at a gig for The Nightwatchman, a.k.a. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave fame, at the Hotel Caf? in Los Angeles in April 2007. The following June, she performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada", the American and Canadian national anthems, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks in Ottawa, Ontario. In early 2008, Morissette participated in a tour with Matchbox Twenty and Mute Math as a special guest.
Morissette's seventh studio album, Flavors of Entanglement, which was produced by Guy Sigsworth, was released in mid 2008. She has stated that in late 2008, she would embark on a North American headlining tour, but in the meantime she would be promoting the album internationally by performing at shows and festivals and making television and radio appearances. The album's first single was "Underneath", a video for which was submitted to the 2007 Elevate Film Festival, the purpose of which festival was to create documentaries, music videos, narratives and shorts regarding subjects to raise the level of human consciousness on the earth. On October 3, 2008, Morissette released the video for her latest single, "Not as We".
Alanis Morissette performed at the 11th Annual Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco on September 12, 2009 headlined and produced by activist and artist, Michael Franti of Spearhead. Morissette's acoustic set was very well received by a crowd estimated at over 60,000 people.
In 1986, Morissette had her first stint as an actress: eighteen episodes of the children's television show You Can't Do That on Television. She appeared on stage with the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society in 1985 and 1988.
In 1993, she appeared in the film Just One of the Girls starring Corey Haim, which she described as "horrible".
In 1999, Morissette delved into acting again, for the first time since 1993, appearing as God in the Kevin Smith film Dogma and contributing the song "Still" to its soundtrack. She also appeared in the hit HBO comedies Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and appeared in the play The Vagina Monologues.
In late 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 April 2006, MTV News reported that Morissette would reprise her role in The Exonerated in London from May 23 through May 28.
She expanded her acting credentials with the July 2004 release of the Cole Porter biographical film De-Lovely, in which she performed the song "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" and had a brief role as an anonymous stage performer. In February 2005, she made a guest appearance on the Canadian television show Degrassi: The Next Generation with Dogma co-star Jason Mewes and director Kevin Smith.
In 2006, she guest starred in an episode of Lifetime's Lovespring International as a homeless woman named Lucinda, and three episodes of FX's Nip/Tuck, playing a lesbian named Poppy.
It was announced on Morissette's website that she will be starring in a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth. Morissette will play Sylvia, an ordinary woman in unexpected remission from lymphoma. She said she was a "big fan" of Dick's books, which she called "poetic and expansively imaginative", and said she "feel blessed to portray Sylvia, and to be part of this story being told in film".
It was announced in May 2009 that Morissette had been cast in at least seven episodes of Weeds, playing Dr. Audra Kitson, a "no-nonsense obstetrician" who treats pregnant main character Nancy Botwin. These episodes aired from June to August 2009.
Morissette has also confirmed that she is now focusing on acting for the time being, after a split from her record label, Maverick Records.
During 1993, Morissette dated Dave Coulier of television's Full House fame. Apparently the relationship became strained because of the couple's work schedules. Dave Coulier became disillusioned with Morrissette's brief affair with Shawn Pierce, the drummer from Madison WI, band ZEBRAS. .
Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, Morissette suffered from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, which were catalysed by "hardcore" professional pressure and managerial demands from her work towards making her first album. She recalled returning to the studio to re-record some vocals, only to be told that the person who summoned her there wanted to discuss her weight, and that she couldn't be successful if she was fat. She lived on a diet of carrots, black coffee and Melba toast, and her weight fluctuated by fifteen to twenty pounds. She subsequently began therapy, which she called "a long process to un-program . I try to remember, whatever my body is, it's perfect the way it is" .
By mid 2004, Morissette had become an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church, a religious organization that offers anyone semi-immediate ordination as a minister free of charge .
In 2002 she began dating actor Ryan Reynolds . In June 2004, Morissette announced her engagement . In June 2006, People magazine reported that Morissette and Reynolds had split, but neither party confirmed the report . The following month, a source said that they were together . Contact Music reported that their split was a "rumour" and they were pictured holding hands in Los Angeles. In February 2007, representatives for Morissette and Reynolds announced that they had mutually decided to end their engagement .
In her May 2004 interview to the British newspaper The Mirror she discussed her past relationships, having dated a twenty-nine year-old man at age fourteen and, briefly, her experiences with drugs. In the article, she was quoted as saying: "My addictions were work and food. I smoked pot once in a while, but I'm too much of a control freak to be a drug person" .
In February 2005, Morissette became a naturalized citizen of the United States while maintaining her Canadian citizenship. Morissette refers to herself as a Canadian-American .
In a Rolling Stone interview she revealed that she was going to spend 2006 working on a memoir. She said of her book, "it will be all the wisdom I've accrued in the thirty-one years of my life A lot about relationships, fame, travel, body-image issues, spirit ? with a lot of self-deprecating humor peppered throughout, 'cause I just can't help it" . As of May 2008, Morissette was halfway through writing this memoir that will focus on women's issues. It will have chapters on sexuality, beauty, relationships and work and was partially inspired by young women who regularly come up to her and tell her their stories of personal pain.
In June 2008, when asked about some revealing songs on her new album, she responded, "I?ve had so many rock bottom moments in my life. I?ve hit rock bottom, but I didn?t necessarily bounce up as high right after. This one was the biggest bounce" . Since July 2007, she has been dating environmental lawyer Tom Balanco .
In early 2009, after reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman?s book Eat to Live, Morissette adopted a vegan diet which helped her lose weight and get healthy .