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Canadian musician Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill established her as one of alternative rock's foremost female vocalists of the 1990s.
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In response to the album's popularity, Morissette toured relentlessly during the year of its release, but the busy schedule took a toll on her mental and physical health. At the end of that run, she withdrew temporarily from the music business, keeping a low profile and attempting to renew her sense of self.
She says of that time period: ''Everything snowballing as it did was a lot to digest, and I really didn't have the energy or the clarity or the understanding or the handbook to do that. Now,
my handbook would say, 'Cry when you need to cry, talk when you need to talk and stop when you need to stop.'''
It wasn't long before the singer was back in the studio, this time recording songs with an altogether different tone. The songwriter herself described many of Jagged Little Pill's songs as reactionary, whereas the songs on her next album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998), were more about redemption and reconciliation than anger. In the end, fans found these introspective songs just as cathartic as the singer did, sending the album to the top of the charts.
Despite her past success in collaborating with Ballard, Morissette decided to go it alone in 2001, writing and producing the album Under Rug Swept by herself, including the hit single "Hands Clean." The record sold a million copies in the U.S. and went platinum in Canada. Her next album, So-Called Chaos (2004), did as well only by half, and was met with mixed critical reviews. The formerly angsty pop star toured that year with the Barenaked Ladies and, in 2005, opened for the Rolling Stones.
In 2007, Morissette took what she would later describe as a much-needed break from her own music, and recorded a cover of The Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps." The video, which both parodies the sugary-pop hit and gently mocks Morissette's own mournful and serious signature vocals, became a runaway favorite on YouTube.
No stranger to the camera, Morissette appeared onscreen not only as a child actor, but again as an adult in both film and television. She took a role in the film Dogma (1999), and played a recurring character on the television show Weeds from 2009 to 2010.
Morissette's next album, Flavors of Entanglement (2008), was recorded on the heels of her breakup with actor Ryan Reynolds, whom Morissette had been dating since 2002. With her hallmark openness, the singer later admitted that the album was a necessary form of catharsis following that emotionally trying time. In May 2010, Morissette married Mario "MC Souleye" Treadway, and later that year, their son, Ever Imre Morissette-Treadway, was born.
Morissette continues to write, sing and perform, and also appears onstage to support a wide breadth of charities. The Grammy winner's devotion to emotional honesty, as well as her belief in vulnerability as an essential part of the human condition, comes through in each of her ventures.
Far from seeing this as an expression of weakness, Morissette explains, ''The more vulnerable and the more confused the song is, the equal and opposite effect is how I feel after having written it and the deeper I go admitting fear, admitting the confusion, the clearer I usually feel. I don't really feel vulnerable; I feel empowered by it."
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The 1990s was the era of the riot grrrl, the rapper and Lilith Fair, which served to reshape traditional ideas of feminism. Artists such as Bikini Kill, Meg White, Queen Latifah and Lady Gaga were able to explore the formerly male-dominated areas of the music industry and become some of the leading voices of the industry. Whether in high-heels, stilettos, or army boots, these ladies stood toe-to-toe with any male artist of the day.
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