ALANIS MORISSETTE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Born in Ottawa on June 1, 1974, Alanis Morissette has always demonstrated drive and talent in equal measure. She enjoyed initial success playing a goop target in Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That On Television, but music was always her first priority.


By nine, she was composing her own songs on the piano. By ten, she had recorded her first single, “Fate Stay With Me.” The step towards a real recording career came in 1987, when local impresario Stephan Klovan arrived at the Morissette home to audition the 12-year-old for Ottawa’s annual Tulip Festival. He was struck her maturity and almost beatific sense of well-being. Add a strong voice and sharp creative instincts, and Klovan realized she was the stuff of a superstar.


Klovan became her manager, and booked her in such showcases as an appearance on Star Search. He paired her with Leslie Howe, an Ottawa pop composer and recording technician, whose own band, One to One, had enjoyed Canadian chart success. Howe supplied most of the music, while Alanis added plenty of vocal gusto. They had a hit partnership.


Their first collaboration, Alanis, was a huge success in Canada, selling over 100,000 copies and featuring the Top Ten single “Too Hot.” Alanis won a Juno for Most Promising Female Vocalist, and became a teen sensation. Like Britney Spears, she found herself an adolescent who had to conform to adult models to make an impact. It’s an experience she doesn’t regret, but adds, “There was an element of me not being who I really was at the time. It was because I wasn’t prepared to open up that way.”


For Alanis, the blossoming was a difficult one. Following the 1992 release of Now Is the Time, the teenage Alanis made some radical changes. She graduated from high school and moved to Toronto. She changed managers to Scott Welch, who had launched Paula Abdul’s career. Away from her close-knit family, Alanis devoted herself to music, searching with a small army of collaborators for what was uniquely hers.


To do that, she had to travel west to the basement studios of Glen Ballard. Ballard had produced albums like Jack Wagner’s lost 1984 classic All I Need, Wilson Phillips’ smash 1990 debut and even played keyboards for the masters Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones on Bad. He became the perfect midwife for Alanis’ baby.


Morissette wrote songs that articulated adolescent frustrations, but weren’t afraid to go in unpredictable directions, songs like “You Learn” and “All I Really Want.” She felt tossed between the torment of perfectionism and her fierce sexual and intellectual independence. Ballard’s radio-friendly ear chose to emphasize his charge’s anger, even drafting in Flea and Dave Navarro to play on “You Oughta Know.” Outside of punk, Alanis became that rare artist who respects her teenage audience, not condescends to them.


Released in 1995 on Madonna’s Maverick label, Jagged Little Pill was a phenomenon, with four smash singles and 27 million copies sold. Alanis and Ballard believed they had rejected the glossy pop of their past. Either they were wrong, or they had unwittingly discovered an audience who - primed by artists like Liz Phair - were ready for the same.


Alanis didn’t talk about “going down” lightly. In interviews, she was as direct as on record, while the “Ironic” video embraced her many sides. Alanis became a figurehead in a decade that hadn’t thought of Lilith Fair yet. The pressure of such success inspired her to find her bearings once again. After an international tour with heroine Tori Amos, Morissette went hiking in India. She returned with renewed purpose.


Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and the intervening single “Uninvited” re-cast Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” as Freudian analysis. Over a series of epic songs, Alanis read out letters to old lovers ("Unsent"), and offered reconciliation to all ("Thank U"). Those who had dismissed her as a puppet couldn’t deny that in the massive rock of SFIJ, Alanis really did appear to have found herself again.


“She reminds me of me at that age,” Madonna was quoted as saying. “Slightly awkward but extremely self-possessed and straightforward. There’s a sense of excitement in the air around her, like anything’s possible–and the sky’s the limit.” Alanis has studied her label boss carefully, promoting in return for a company shares that are said to have made her millions. Add businesswoman to her talents. But don’t suppose this thoroughly modern Morissette’s a former anything.