Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette Biography

Television Actress, Actress, Film Actress, Songwriter, Singer, Film Actor/Film Actress (1974–)
Canadian musician Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill established her as one of alternative rock's foremost female vocalists of the 1990s.


Musician Alanis Morissette was born June 1, 1974 in Ottawa, Canada. Morissette began studying piano at age 6 and composing at 7; she wrote her first songs at 9. By age 10 she was acting in a series on Nickelodeon. She used her earnings to cut her first single. In 1995, her album Jagged Little Pill established her as one of alternative rock's foremost female vocalists of the 1990s.


Early Life

Musician Alanis Nadine Morissette was born on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Canada, to Alan and Georgia Morissette. Both of her parents worked in education, and from an early age, Morissette showed an aptitude for music. At age 6, she began taking piano lessons, and by the time she was 9, she was writing her own songs.

Early Music Career

When she was 11, Morissette joined the cast of a Nickelodeon children's show called You Can't Do That on Television, and saved up her earnings. In 1987, she used the money she had earned to self-release her first track, "Fate Stay With Me." Despite her young age, Morissette's music touched on themes of loneliness and heartache.

The song caught the attention of record label MCA Canada; at age 14, Morissette signed a contract with the company. She released a self-titled album, Alanis, in 1991. The young singer then got her first taste of success: the album went platinum, and even garnered her a Canadian Juno Award for Most Promising Female Artist. Quickly following up on her first win in the dance-pop world, Morissette released Now Is The Time (1992) a year later, though it did not reach the same level of popularity.

Musical Transformation

Morissette's career blossomed once again when she made it to the United States. At age 18, she had moved to Toronto, but in 1994 she made a much bigger move—to Los Angeles. There, she began a search for a team of producers and collaborators to help her make a comeback from her commercially disappointing second album. Morissette teamed up with industry veteran Glen Ballard, and she began to approach songwriting more organically.

Soon, she had moved away from the more conventional dance-pop songs she began with. "It was the beginning of a new way to approach songwriting altogether," Morissette explained. "I was old enough to be able to write autobiographically and stand by the philosophical subject matter in my songs."

'Jagged Little Pill'

The result of Morissette's collaboration with Ballard was Jagged Little Pill, which was released in 1995 by Maverick Records. With its edgy, alternative sound, the single "You Oughta Know" struck a strong chord with listeners. MTV was in its heyday, and the single received heavy airplay; demand for subsequent singles from Jagged Little Pill was steady. In 1996, the album won several Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

While the mid-1990s saw no shortage of outspoken female rock stars, Morissette seemed particularly to appeal to teenage audiences, who felt she had given them a genuine voice for their angst and frustration. 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.

Later Work

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.

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.

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 playing God in the film Dogma (1999), and played a recurring character on the television show Weeds from 2009 to 2010. She has also appeared in TV shows including Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Nip/Tuck.

Morissette released Havoc and Bright Lights, her eighth studio album, in 2012. The singer-songwriter continues to write, sing and perform, and also appears onstage to support various 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."

In addition to her music and acting roles, Morissette writes an advice column for The Guardian.

Personal Life

In May 2010, Morissette married Mario "MC Souleye" Treadway, and later that year, their son, Ever Imre, was born on December 25th. Morissette gave birth to their daughter Onyx Solace on June 23, 2016.

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