H.E.A.R. Honors Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette (b. June 1, 1974, Ottawa, Canada) was
one of the most unlikely stars of the mid-'90s. A former child
actress turned dance-pop diva, Morissette transformed herself
into a confessional alternative singer/songwriter, in the
vein of Liz Phair and Tori Amos. However, she added enough
pop sensibility, slight hip-hop flourishes, and marketing
savvy to that formula to become a superstar with her third
album, Jagged Little Pill.
Morissette was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. In her
childhood, she began playing piano and writing songs. At the
age of ten, she joined the cast of You Can't Do That on Television,
a children's television program. Using money that she earned
on the show, Morissette recorded an independent single, "Fate
Stay With Me," which was released when she was ten. After
leaving the show, she concentrated on a musical career, signing
a music publishing contract when she was 14. The publishing
contract led to a record deal with MCA Canada. In 1991, she
moved to Toronto and released her debut album, Alanis.
Alanis was a collection of pop-oriented dance numbers and
ballads that was successful in Canada, selling over 100,000
copies, and leading to a Juno Award for Most Promising Female
Artist. However, no other country paid any attention to the
record. In 1992, she released Now Is the Time, an album that
closely resembled her debut. Like its predecessor, it was
a success in Canada, even if it sold half of what Alanis did.
Following the release of Now Is the Time, Morissette relocated
to Los Angeles, where she met Glen Ballard in early 1994.
Ballard had previously written Michael Jackson's hit "Man
in the Mirror," produced Wilson Phillips' hit debut album,
and worked with David Hasselhoff. Despite the duo's mainstream
pop pedigree, they decided to pursue an edgier, alternative
rock-oriented direction.The result was Jagged Little Pill,
which was released on Maverick Records, Madonna's label.
On the strength of the single "You Oughta Know," Jagged Little
Pill gained attention upon its release in the summer of 1995.
Soon, the single received heavy airplay from both alternative
radio and MTV, sending the album into the Top Ten and multi-platinum
status. The second and third singles from Jagged Little Pill,
"Hand in My Pocket" and "All I Really Want," kept the album
in the Top Ten. In early 1996, she was nominated for six Grammys.
Shortly after the nominations, Morissette released her fourth
single, "Ironic," which proved to be her biggest crossover
success. Morissette won several Grammy awards in 1996, including
Album of the Year and Song of the Year. Her much-anticipated
follow-up, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, was released
in the autumn of 1998. Unplugged appeared a year later.
Since emerging in 1995, ALANIS MORISSETTE has become one
of the premiere singer/songwriters in contemporary music.
Her deeply expressive music and performances have earned the
seven-time Grammy Award winner vast critical praise and a
dedicated fan base that extends throughout the world. She
wrote and produced her new album UNDER RUG SWEPT.
ALANIS’ groundbreaking 1995 debut Jagged Little Pill created
a heavy impact on listeners, revealing a talented young artist
with a powerful voice and challenging vision. The monumental
success of Jagged Little Pill--which featured hits "You Oughta
Know," "Hand In My Pocket," "Ironic" and "You Learn"--kept
ALANIS on the road for an 18-month world tour between 1995
and 1996 that started in clubs and ended in arenas.
"The songs on Jagged Little Pill are tales of a young woman
determined to make her own way, inventing herself as she leaves
behind childhood indoctrination, manipulative lovers, sleazy
business associates and, finally, her own self-doubt." --Jon
Pareles, New York Times, August 1995
In 1998, ALANIS returned with the release of Supposed Former
Infatuation Junkie, which featured the hits "Thank U," "Unsent"
and "So Pure." Upon the album’s completion, ALANIS said: "I
see every recording I’ve done as a snapshot of that time in
my life. I feel fulfilled when I feel the songs were inspired
and representative of myself in the moment." Supposed Former
Infatuation Junkie was a worldwide success, reflecting ALANIS’
expanded musical artistry.
"Artistically, Alanis Morissette exceeds our highest hopes
on her can’t-lose new album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.
The ambitious collection is her probing, shrewd, sensual and
fearlessly autobiographical exploration of being young and
female in the 90’s." --Edna Gundersen, USA Today, October
In 1999, ALANIS produced her MTV Unplugged album, intimately
re-working her material and introducing some unreleased work
before a live audience at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The album, which featured the single "That I Would Be Good,"
focused on her penetrating vocals and creative arrangements,
becoming a fan favorite.
"Just when it seemed that this mostly acoustic series had
run dry, Morissette jump-starts it with a marvelous performance
that finds her rethinking her songs rather than just replaying
them." --Robert Hilburn, LOS ANGELES TIMES, November 21, 1999
In addition to her musical accomplishments, ALANIS has also
expanded her career by directing videos (her own "So Pure"
and "Unsent") and acting (the film "Dogma," HBO’s "Sex In
The City" and the off-Broadway "Vagina Monologues"). At the
same time, ALANIS has remained at the forefront of humanitarian
issues, Internet technology, and music artists’ rights. Beyond
working on her album UNDER RUG SWEPT, ALANIS has kept busy
in 2001 playing various benefits, including the televised
John Lennon tribute from New York City (raising funds to support
gun control and assist victims of the September 11 attacks);
Toronto’s Music Without Borders event (generating money for
the United Nations Donor Alert Appeal, aiding refugees of
the conflict in Afghanistan); and Seattle’s Groundworks (benefiting
the organization Act To Reduce Hunger).
In December 2001, ALANIS was honored by the Friends of The
United Nations with a Global Tolerance Award in New York City
for making outstanding contributions to promote tolerance
through the arts in addition to her work on behalf of tolerance
in her personal life and activities. The presentation, which
coincided with the U.N.’s Human Rights Day, took place at
the United Nations and was attended by senior U.N. personnel,
members of the diplomatic community and key representatives
of the private and civil society sectors.
With over 40 million albums sold worldwide, ALANIS’ universal
appeal has led to a unique connection with fans and extensive
overseas touring. During her precedent-setting summer 2000
trek through the Middle East and Eastern Europe, ALANIS documented
visits and performances in 15 countries (including Lebanon,
Croatia and Turkey) over the Internet. In most regions, a
young ambassador escorted ALANIS beyond the usual tourist
attractions to see historical, cultural and political sites
while sharing native customs and beliefs. ALANIS wrapped up
the tour with a special acoustic performance and question-and-answer
session at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, which is
dedicated to teaching youth the importance of accepting diversity
and sharing cultures.
Earlier that same year, ALANIS performed in Rome for Pope
John Paul II and 300,000 youth at The Great Jubilee Concert
For A Debt-Free World (to bring attention to the world’s poorest
nations and the need for social justice).
ALANIS’ worldwide travels also brought her to Cuba in 1998
on a cultural exchange journey whereby North American artists
had the chance to meet the people, including students, of
that country. ALANIS recently expressed her hope for a better
world when she shared her song "Utopia" (written in early
January 2001)--from Under Rug Swept--on her website in the
wake of the September 11 attacks.
In her own words, ALANIS "just wanted to share as much comfort
as I possibly could through the context of music." Entertainment
Weekly’s Beth Johnson described "Utopia," noting: "Atop a
gentle mandolin, calming strings, and angelic harmonies, she
softly croons her wish list for a perfect world, a place ‘without
guilt, without fear…with room for every emotion.’
" The cover of Alanis' upcoming release 'So Called Chaos'
Alanis will be releasing her 4th major studio album 'So Called
Chaos' on May 18th 2004. Tracks include the first single 'Everything'
which just debuted on AOL Music as a First Listen.