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Alanis Nadine Morissette (born June 1, 1974) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer, and actress. She has won 16 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards, was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and also shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination. Morissette began her career in Canada, and as a teenager recorded two dance-pop albums, Alanis and Now Is the Time, under MCA Records Canada. Her worldwide debut album was the rock-influenced Jagged Little Pill, released in 1995, which remains the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S., and the highest selling debut album worldwide, selling more than 30 million units globally. 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.
Morissette was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Georgia Mary Ann (née Feuerstein), a Hungarian-born teacher, and Alan Richard Morissette, a French-Canadian high school principal. She has a twin brother Wade Morissette (also a musician) who was born 12 minutes after her. Morissette's parents were devout Catholics.
199092: Alanis and Now Is the Time
In 1991 MCA Records Canada released Morissette's debut album, Alanis, in Canada only. 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 Côté. 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 suck-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 was a commercial failure, however, selling only a little more than half the copies of her first album. With her two-album deal with MCA Records Canada complete, Morissette was left without a major label contract.
199397: Move to Los Angeles and Jagged Little Pill
In 1993 Morissette's publisher MCA Music Publishing introduced her to manager Scott Welch. Welch told HitQuarters he was impressed by her "spectacular voice", her character and her lyrics. At the time she was still living at home with her parents. Together they decided it would be best for her career to move to Toronto and start writing with other people. After graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa to Toronto. Her publisher funded part of her development and when she met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard, he believed in her talent enough to let her use his studio. The two wrote and recorded Morissette's first internationally released album, Jagged Little Pill, and by the spring of 1995, she had signed a deal with Maverick Records. According to manager Welch every label they had approached had passed on Morissette apart from Maverick.
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 modern rock 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 16 million copies sold in the U.S.; it sold 33 million worldwide, making it the third biggest selling album by a female artist, and the biggest selling debut album (though technically it is Alanis's international debut, not her first album) of all time. 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 criticized 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 AwardsRecord of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Formand 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.
19982000: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and 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 copiesa 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", "Hope", "Innocence", and "Faith", four 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.
200103: 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.
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.
200405: So-Called Chaos, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic and The Collection
Morissette hosted the Juno Awards of 2004 dressed in a bathrobe, which she took off to reveal a flesh-colored 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.
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. As of November 2010, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic had sold 372,000 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 autumn 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. 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". As of November 2010, The Collection had sold 373,000 copies in the U.S., according to Soundscan.
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".
200609: Flavors of Entanglement/Leaving Maverick Records
2006 marked the first year in Morissette's musical career without 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 Café 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. (The NHL requires arenas to perform both the American and Canadian national anthems at games involving teams from both countries.) In early 2008, Morissette participated in a tour with Matchbox Twenty and Mutemath 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".
Morissette left Maverick Records after all promotion for Flavors was completed.
Recently, Morissette has contributed to 1 Giant Leap, performing "Arrival" with Zap Mama and she has released an acoustic version of her song "Still" as part of a compilation from Music for Relief in support of the 2010 Haiti earthquake crisis. Morissette has also recorded a cover of the 1984 Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias hit, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before", re-written as "To All the Boys I've Loved Before". Nelson played rhythm guitar on the recording.
In April 2010, Morissette released the song "I Remain", which she wrote for the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time soundtrack.
On May 26, 2010, the season finale of American Idol, Morissette performed a duet of her song "You Oughta Know" with Runner Up Crystal Bowersox.
In late January 2011 a song entitled "Professional Torturer" which Morissette wrote and performed for the film in which she stars, Radio Free Albemuth, surfaced through various outlets.
Reports indicate that Morissette is set to release a new studio album, in October 2011, on the Cooking Vinyl record label. The new album is rumoured to have a profound urban sound and will feature her husband MC Souleye in Producing and Songwriting capacities.
In 1986, Morissette had her first stint as an actor: twenty 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 comedy 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, appeared in the play The Vagina Monologues, and had a brief role in the Brazilian hit soap opera "Celebridade" (Celebrity).
In late 2003, Morissette appeared in the Off-Broadway play The Exonerated as Charlie 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 until 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, three episodes of FX's Nip/Tuck, playing a lesbian named Poppy, and the mockumentary/documentary Pittsburgh as herself.
Morissette has appeared in eight episodes of Weeds, playing Dr. Audra Kitson, a "no-nonsense obstetrician" who treats pregnant main character Nancy Botwin. Her first episode aired in July 2009.
In early 2010 Morissette returned to the stage, performing a one night engagement in An Oak Tree, an experimental play in Los Angeles. The performance was a sell out. In April 2010 Morissette was confirmed in the cast of Weeds season six, performing again her role as Dr. Audra Kitson.
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. Morissette stated that she is "...a big fan of Philip K. Dick's poetic and expansively imaginative books" and that she "feel[s] blessed to portray Sylvia, and to be part of this story being told in film".
Morissette dated actor and comedian Dave Coulier, 15 years her senior, for a short time in the early 1990s. In a 2008 interview with the Calgary Herald, Coulier claimed to be the ex-boyfriend who inspired Morissette's song "You Oughta Know". Morissette, however, has maintained her silence on the subject of the song.
Morissette met Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds at Drew Barrymore's birthday party in 2002, and the couple began dating soon after. They announced their engagement in June 2004. In February 2007, representatives for Morissette and Reynolds announced they had mutually decided to end their engagement. Morissette has stated that her album Flavors of Entanglement was created out of her grief after the break-up, saying that "it was cathartic".
On May 22, 2010, Morissette married rapper Mario MC Souleye Treadway in a private ceremony at their Los Angeles home. Their first child, Ever Imre Morissette-Treadway, was born on December 25, 2010.
Morissette is a vegan.
Awards and nominations