Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, and Germany, Alanis Morissette played piano, wrote songs and discovered a love of words and dance at an early age. At ten she joined the cast of “You Can’t Do That On Television,” a popular children’s television program. She used some of the money she made on that show to start a record company with a friend and fund an independent single called “Fate Stay With Me.” When her time on the show was over, Morissette signed a publishing contract and eventually a record deal with MCA Canada, releasing the album Alanis in 1991, for which she won Canada’s Juno Award for Most Promising Female Artist. Her follow-up album, Now Is The Time, was released the following year.
It was 1994, when Morissette came to the U.S. and began working with producer Glen Ballard, that she found her own voice as a singer-songwriter. “I was 19 when I first felt that writing was a channeled experience. That has a lot to do with where I was at then, having met Glen, moving from Canada and moving away from any preconceived notions of how songs ‘should’ be written. It was the beginning of a new way to approach songwriting altogether,” she explains.
The result of their collaboration was Jagged Little Pill (Maverick Records), an emotionally raw collection of songs that introduced Alanis Morissette to the world and sold more than 30 million units worldwide. With heavy-rotation singles like “You Oughta Know,” “Head Over Feat,” “Hand in My Pocket” and “Ironic,” it became the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S., and the highest-selling debut album worldwide. Nominated for six Grammy Awards including Best New Artist and Song of the Year (“You Oughta Know”), Jagged Little Pill won four trophies for Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (“You Oughta Know”). In 1997, a fifth Grammy for Best Long-form Music Video was bestowed upon Morissette for Jagged Little Pill Live.
Her next album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart with record-setting first-week sales of nearly 470,000 copies. Morissette hauled in two more Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the string-laden rock ballad “Uninvited,” which hit #1 on Billboard’s Top 40 Mainstream chart. The Grammy-nominated single “Thank U” also reached #1 on the Adult Top 40 chart and #2 on Top 40 Mainstream. The MTV acoustic forum “Unplugged” yielded Alanis Unplugged in 1999.
Throughout the first half of the new decade, Alanis Morissette continued evidencing that she was an artist with something to say, and she would say it in her own distinct way. In 2002 Under Rug Swept debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, its single “Hands Clean” reaching #3 on the Adult Top 40 chart. Two years later came So-Called Chaos, whose single “Everything” became an Adult Top 40 mainstay and “Eight Easy Steps” became a club hit as a dance mix. Morissette celebrated the ten-year anniversary of her breakthrough album with 2005’s Jagged Little Pill Acoustic. In November of that year, The Collection amassed a best-of anthology with 17 tracks that delivered favorites from previous albums as well as a well-received cover of Seal’s “Crazy” (an interesting foreshadowing, as it was originally co-written and produced by her future Flavors of Entanglement collaborator Guy Sigsworth).
Achieving success as a recording and performing artist, Alanis Morissette has lent her talents to other albums and forums. She’s been a guest vocalist on Ringo Starr’s cover of “Draft Away” on his album Vertical Man, “Don’t Drink the Water” and “Spoon” on the Dave Matthews Band album Before These Crowded Streets and other CDs. She wrote “Still” for the soundtrack of the controversial film Dogma and, after steadfast offerings by director Kevin Smith, agreed to play the role of God.
Among a breadth of charity work, Morissette especially finds time to support environmental causes and organizations, such as Reverb, a non-profit that helps musicians and music fans to achieve environmental sustainability through carbon-neutral initiatives. Morissette was one of the first artists to have her “Feast on Scraps” CD and DVD materials on recycled paper. Initially she paid for this out of her own pocket, but now it’s becoming an industry standard. Her passions also include women’s issues and artists’ rights on behalf of which she has written several articles as well as spoken to congress.
A dozen years after the world first turned on to Alanis Morissette, a more mature artist remains committed to her creative path and a strong desire to help others on theirs. “I live to HEAL ruptures and bridge the human and the divine aspects of life, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences, I can support people in their personal journeys, wherever they may be at,” she explains. “Otherwise I’d just sing songs in the shower and take up gardening.”