Alanis Nadine Morissette (born 1
June 1974) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and actress.
She has won 12 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards. Morissette began her
career in Canada, and as a teenager recorded two dance-pop albums, Alanis
and Now Is the Time, under MCA Records. Her debut album was the
rock-influenced Jagged Little Pill, which remains the best-selling debut
album by a female artist in the U.S., and the highest selling debut album
worldwide, selling 30 million units globally. Her following album,
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, was released in 1998 and was a success
as well. Morissette took up producing duties for her subsequent albums,
which include Under Rug Swept, So-Called Chaos and Flavors of
Entanglement. Morissette has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide.
In February 2005, Morissette became a naturalized citizen of the United
States while maintaining her Canadian citizenship.
Morissette was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Georgia
Mary Ann (née Feuerstein), a Hungarian-born teacher, and Alan Richard
Morissette, a French-Canadian high school principal. Morissette's parents
were devout Catholics. She has a twin brother, Wade, and an older brother,
Chad. At six, she began playing the piano. In 1984, Morissette wrote her
first song, "Fate Stay with Me", which she sent to a local folk singer,
Lindsay Morgan, who recruited Morissette as her protégé. Morissette
released "Fate Stay with Me" as a single via a label she founded with
Morgan. A limited number of copies were pressed, and it received little
airplay. In elementary school she was identified as gifted and attended
St. Elizabeth's PGL (program for gifted learners). During her high school
years, she attended Immaculata High School and Glebe Collegiate Institute
in Ottawa while continuing to pursue a career in the arts. In 1986, she
was a cast regular on the CTV/Nickelodeon show, You Can't Do That on
Television. In 1987, Morissette competed in the inaugural year of the
Rising Star Talent Competition, an amateur contest held in Toronto at the
Canadian National Exhibition.
At a New York City audition, Morissette landed a spot on Star Search, a
U.S. talent competition on which she used the stage name of Alanis Nadine,
her first and middle names. Morissette flew to Los Angeles to appear on
the show, but lost after one round. In 1988, Morissette signed a
publishing deal with MCA Publishing, which helped to fund her record deal
with one of its independent subsidiary labels.
MCA Records released Morissette's debut album, Alanis, in Canada only in
1991, and Morissette co-wrote every track on the album with its producer,
Leslie Howe. By the time it was released, she had dropped her stage name
and was credited simply as Alanis. The dance-pop album went platinum, and
its first single, "Too Hot", reached the top twenty on the RPM singles
chart. Subsequent singles "Walk Away" and "Feel Your Love" reached the top
forty. Morissette's popularity, style of music and appearance,
particularly that of her hair, led her to become known as the Debbie
Gibson of Canada; comparisons to Tiffany were also common. During the same
period, she was a concert opening act for rapper Vanilla Ice. Morissette
was nominated for three 1992 Juno Awards: Most Promising Female Vocalist
of the Year (which she won), Single of the Year and Best Dance Recording
(both for "Too Hot").
In 1992, she released her second album, Now Is the Time, a ballad-driven
record that featured less glitzy production than Alanis and contained more
thoughtful lyrics. Morissette wrote the songs with the album's producer,
Leslie Howe, and Serge Côté. She said of the album, "people could go,
'Boo, hiss, hiss, this girl's like another Tiffany or whatever'. But the
way I look at it ... people will like your next album if it's a kick-ass
one." As with Alanis, Now Is the Time was released only in Canada and
produced three top forty singles—"An Emotion Away", the minor adult
contemporary hit "No Apologies", and "(Change Is) Never a Waste of Time".
It sold a little more than half the copies of her first album, however,
and was a commercial failure. With her two-album deal with MCA Canada
complete, Morissette was left without a major label contract.
In 1993, after graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa
to Toronto. Living alone for the first time in her life, she met with a
number of songwriters, but the results frustrated her. A visit to
Nashville a few months later also proved fruitless. In the hopes of
meeting a collaborator, Morissette began making trips to Los Angeles and
working with as many musicians as possible.
During this time, she met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard. The two
wrote and recorded Morissette's first internationally-released album,
Jagged Little Pill, and by the spring of 1995, she had signed a deal with
Maverick Records released Jagged Little Pill internationally in 1995. The
album was expected only to sell enough for Morissette to make a follow-up,
but the situation changed quickly when a DJ from KROQ, an influential Los
Angeles modern rock radio station began playing "You Oughta Know," the
album's first single. The song instantly garnered attention for its
scathing, explicit lyrics, and a subsequent music video went into heavy
rotation on MTV and MuchMusic.
After the success of "You Oughta Know," the album's other hit singles
helped send Jagged Little Pill to the top of the charts. "All I Really
Want" and "Hand In My Pocket" followed, but the fourth U.S. single,
"Ironic", became Morissette's biggest hit. "You Learn" and "Head over
Feet", the fifth and sixth singles, respectively, kept Jagged Little Pill
in the top twenty on the Billboard 200 albums chart for more than a year.
According to the RIAA, Jagged Little Pill is the best-selling
international debut album by a female artist, with more than sixteen
million copies sold in the U.S.; it sold thirty-three million worldwide,
making it the third biggest selling album by a female artist, and the
biggest selling debut album of all time. Morissette's popularity grew
significantly in Canada, where the album was certified twelve times
platinum and produced four RPM chart-toppers: "Hand In My Pocket,"
"Ironic," "You Learn," and "Head over Feet". The album was also a
bestseller in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Morissette's success with Jagged Little Pill was credited with leading to
the introduction of female singers such as Shakira, Tracy Bonham, Meredith
Brooks, Patti Rothberg and, in the early 2000s, Pink and fellow Canadian
Avril Lavigne. She was criticised for collaborating with producer and
supposed image-maker Ballard, and her previous albums also proved a
hindrance for her respectability. Morissette and the album won six Juno
Awards in 1996: Album of the Year, Single of the Year ("You Oughta Know"),
Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Rock Album.
At the 1996 Grammy Awards, she won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance,
Best Rock Song (both for "You Oughta Know"), Best Rock Album and Album of
Later in 1996, Morissette embarked on an eighteen-month world tour in
support of Jagged Little Pill, beginning in small clubs and ending in
large venues. Taylor Hawkins, who later joined the Foo Fighters, was the
tour's drummer. "Ironic" was nominated for two 1997 Grammy Awards—Record
of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form and won Single of the Year at
the 1997 Juno Awards, where Morissette also won Songwriter of the Year and
the International Achievement Award. The video Jagged Little Pill, Live,
which was co-directed by Morissette and chronicled the bulk of her tour,
won a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form.
Following the stressful tour, Morissette started practicing Iyengar Yoga
for balancing, and after the last December 1996 show, she headed to India
for six weeks, accompanied by her mother, two aunts and two female
Morissette was featured as a guest vocalist on Ringo Starr's cover of
"Drift Away" on his 1998 album, Vertical Man, and on the songs "Don't
Drink the Water" and "Spoon" on the Dave Matthews Band album Before These
Crowded Streets. She recorded the song "Uninvited" for the soundtrack to
the 1998 film City of Angels. Although the track was never commercially
released as a single, it received widespread radio airplay in the U.S. At
the 1999 Grammy Awards, it won in the categories of Best Rock Song and
Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and was nominated for Best Song
Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Later in
1998, Morissette released her fourth album, Supposed Former Infatuation
Junkie, which she wrote and produced with Glen Ballard.
Privately, the label hoped to sell a million copies of the album on
initial release; instead, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200
chart with first-week sales of 469,000 copies—a record, at the time, for
the highest first-week sales of an album by a female artist. The wordy,
personal lyrics on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie alienated many fans,
and after the album sold considerably less than Jagged Little Pill, many
labelled it an example of the sophomore jinx. However, it received
positive reviews, including a four-star review from Rolling Stone. In
Canada, it won the Juno Award for Best Album and was certified four times
platinum. "Thank U", the album's only major international hit single, was
nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance;
the music video, which featured Morissette nude, generated mild
controversy. Morissette herself directed the videos for "Unsent" and "So
Pure", which won, respectively, the MuchMusic Video Award for Best
Director and the Juno Award for Video of the Year. The "So Pure" video
features actor Dash Mihok, with whom Morissette was in a relationship at
Morissette contributed vocals to "Mercy" and "Innocence", two tracks on
Jonathan Elias's project The Prayer Cycle, which was released in 1999. The
same year, she released the live acoustic album Alanis Unplugged, which
was recorded during her appearance on the television show MTV Unplugged.
It featured tracks from her previous two albums alongside four new songs,
including "King of Pain" (a cover of The Police song) and "No Pressure
over Cappuccino", which Morissette wrote with her main guitar player, Nick
Lashley. The recording of the Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie track
"That I Would Be Good", released as a single, became a minor hit on hot
adult contemporary radio in America. Also in 1999, Morissette released a
live version of her song "Are You Still Mad" on the charity album Live in
the X Lounge II. For her live rendition of "So Pure" at Woodstock '99, she
was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 2001 Grammy
Awards. During summer 1999, Alanis toured with singer/songwriter Tori Amos
on the 5 And A Half Weeks Tour in support of Amos' album To Venus And
In 2001, Morissette was featured with Stephanie McKay on the Tricky song
"Excess", which is on his album Blowback. Morissette released her fifth
studio album, Under Rug Swept, in February 2002. For the first time in her
career, she took on the role of sole writer and producer of an album. Her
band, comprising Joel Shearer, Nick Lashley, Chris Chaney, and Gary Novak,
played the majority of the instruments; additional contributions came from
Eric Avery, Dean DeLeo, Flea, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Shortly after
recording the album Morissette essentially fired this whole band by
proposing a huge pay cut (at least 50% for most members) while offering
the drummer, Gary Novak, a slightly smaller pay cut but an increase in
work and responsibility. This effectively ended the band as it was, and an
entirely new band was hired shortly after, featuring Jason Orme, Zac Rae,
David Levita, and Blair Sinta, who have been with her since.
Under Rug Swept debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart,
eventually going platinum in Canada and selling one million copies in the
U.S. It produced the hit single "Hands Clean," which topped the Canadian
Singles Chart and received substantial radio play; for her work on "Hands
Clean" and "So Unsexy," Morissette won a Juno Award for Producer of the
Year. A second single, "Precious Illusions," was released, but it did not
garner significant success outside Canada or U.S. hot AC radio.
Later in 2002, Morissette released the combination package Feast on
Scraps, which includes a DVD of live concert and backstage documentary
footage directed by her and a CD containing eight previously unreleased
songs from the Under Rug Swept recording sessions. Preceded by the single
"Simple Together," it sold roughly 70,000 copies in the U.S. and was
nominated for a Juno Award for Music DVD of the Year.
Morissette hosted the Juno Awards of 2004 dressed in a bathrobe, which she
took off to reveal a flesh-coloured bodysuit, a response to the era of
censorship in the U.S. caused by Janet Jackson's breast-reveal incident
during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Morissette released her sixth
studio album, So-Called Chaos, in May 2004. She wrote the songs on her own
again, and co-produced the album with Tim Thorney and pop music producer
John Shanks. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 chart
to generally mixed critical reviews, and it became Morissette's lowest
seller in the U.S. The lead single, "Everything", achieved major success
on adult top 40 radio in America and was moderately popular elsewhere,
particularly in Canada, although it failed to reach the top forty on the
U.S. Hot 100. Because the first line of the song includes the word
asshole, American radio stations refused to play it, and the single
version was changed to include the word nightmare instead. Two other
singles, "Out Is Through" and "Eight Easy Steps", fared considerably worse
commercially than "Everything", although a dance mix of "Eight Easy Steps"
was a U.S. club hit.
Morissette embarked on a U.S. summer tour with long-time friends and
fellow Canadians Barenaked Ladies, working with the non-profit
environmental organization Reverb.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Jagged Little Pill, Morissette
released a studio acoustic version, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, in June
2005. The album was released exclusively through Starbucks' Hear Music
retail concept through their coffee shops for a six-week run. The limited
availability led to a dispute between Maverick Records and HMV North
America, who retaliated by removing Morissette's other albums from sale
for the duration of Starbucks's exclusive six-week sale. Jagged Little
Pill Acoustic sold around 300,000 copies in the U.S., and a video for
"Hand in My Pocket" received rotation on VH1 in America. The accompanying
tour ran for two months in mid 2005, with Morissette playing small theatre
venues. During the same period, Morissette was inducted into Canada's Walk
Morissette opened for The Rolling Stones for a few dates of their A Bigger
Bang Tour in the autumn of 2005.
Morissette released the greatest hits album Alanis Morissette: The
Collection in late 2005. The lead single and only new track, a cover of
Seal's "Crazy," was a U.S. adult top 40 and dance hit, but it achieved
only minimal chart success elsewhere, as did the album. A limited edition
of The Collection features a DVD including a documentary with videos of
two unreleased songs from Morissette's 1996 Can't Not Tour: "King of
Intimidation" and "Can't Not." (A reworked version of "Can't Not" had also
appeared on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.) The DVD also includes a
ninety-second clip of the unreleased video for the single "Joining You."
Morissette contributed the song "Wunderkind" to the soundtrack of the film
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and it was
nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
Alanis performed two songs with Avril Lavigne: Morissette's "Ironic" and
Lavigne's "Losing Grip".
At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics closing ceremony, Alanis Morissette
performed her 2005 song Wunderkind.
2006 marked the first year in Morissette's musical career without a single
concert appearance showcasing her own songs, with the exception of an
appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in January when she performed
On 1 April 2007, Morissette released a tongue-in-cheek cover of The Black
Eyed Peas's selection "My Humps," which she recorded in a slow, mournful
voice, accompanied only by a piano. The accompanying YouTube-hosted video,
in which she dances provocatively with a group of men and hits the ones
who attempt to touch her "lady lumps," had received 16,465,653 views on 15
February 2009. Morissette did not take any interviews for a time to
explain the song, and it was theorized that she did it as an April Fools'
Day joke. Black Eyed Peas vocalist Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson responded by
sending Morissette a buttocks-shaped cake with an approving note. On the
verge of the release of her latest album, she finally elaborated on how
the video came to be, citing that she became very much emotionally loaded
while recording her new songs one after the other and one day she wished
she could do a simple song like "My Humps" in a conversation with Guy
Sigsworth and the joke just took a life of its own when they started
working on it.
Morissette performed at a gig for The Nightwatchman, a.k.a. Tom Morello of
Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave fame, at the Hotel Café in Los
Angeles in April 2007. The following June, she performed "The
Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada", the American and Canadian national
anthems, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Ottawa Senators
and the Anaheim Ducks in Ottawa, Ontario. (The NHL requires arenas to
perform both the American and Canadian national anthems at games involving
teams from both countries) In early 2008, Morissette participated in a
tour with Matchbox Twenty and MUTEMATH as a special guest.
Morissette's seventh studio album, Flavors of Entanglement, which was
produced by Guy Sigsworth, was released in mid 2008. She has stated that
in late 2008, she would embark on a North American headlining tour, but in
the meantime she would be promoting the album internationally by
performing at shows and festivals and making television and radio
appearances. The album's first single was "Underneath", a video for which
was submitted to the 2007 Elevate Film Festival, the purpose of which
festival was to create documentaries, music videos, narratives and shorts
regarding subjects to raise the level of human consciousness on the earth.
On 3 October 2008, Morissette released the video for her latest single,
"Not as We".
Recently, Morissette has contributed to 1 Giant Leap, performing "Arrival"
with Zap Mama and she has released an acoustic version of her song "Still"
as part of a compilation from Music for Relief in support of the 2010
Haiti earthquake crisis. Morissette has also recorded a cover of the 1984
Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias hit, "To All the Girls I've Loved
Before", re-written as "To All the Boys I've Loved Before". Nelson played
rhythm guitar on the recording.
In 1986, Morissette had her first stint as an actress: eighteen episodes
of the children's television show You Can't Do That on Television. She
appeared on stage with the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society in 1985 and
In 1993, she appeared in the film Just One of the Girls starring Corey
Haim, which she described as "horrible".
In 1999, Morissette delved into acting again, for the first time since
1993, appearing as God in the Kevin Smith comedy Dogma and contributing
the song "Still" to its soundtrack. She would later reprise the role of
God at the end of Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. She also
appeared in the hit HBO comedies Sex and the City and Curb Your
Enthusiasm, and appeared in the play The Vagina Monologues.
In late 2003, Morissette appeared in the off-Broadway play The Exonerated
as Sunny Jacobs, a death row inmate freed after proof surfaced that she
was innocent. In April 2006, MTV News reported that Morissette would
reprise her role in The Exonerated in London from 23 May until 28 May.
She expanded her acting credentials with the July 2004 release of the Cole
Porter biographical film De-Lovely, in which she performed the song "Let's
Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" and had a brief role as an anonymous stage
performer. In February 2005, she made a guest appearance on the Canadian
television show Degrassi: The Next Generation with Dogma co-star Jason
Mewes and director Kevin Smith.
In 2006, she guest starred in an episode of Lifetime's Lovespring
International as a homeless woman named Lucinda, three episodes of FX's
Nip/Tuck, playing a lesbian named Poppy, and the mockumentary/documentary
Pittsburgh as herself.
It was announced on Morissette's website that she will be starring in a
film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth. Morissette
will play Sylvia, an ordinary woman in unexpected remission from lymphoma.
She said she was a "big fan" of Dick's books, which she called "poetic and
expansively imaginative", and said she "feels blessed to portray Sylvia,
and to be part of this story being told in film".
It was announced in May 2009 that Morissette had been cast in at least
seven episodes of Weeds, playing Dr. Audra Kitson, a "no-nonsense
obstetrician" who treats pregnant main character Nancy Botwin. These
episodes aired from June to August 2009.
During 1993, Morissette dated Dave Coulier of television's Full House
fame. Apparently the relationship became strained because of the couple's
Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, Morissette suffered from
anorexia and bulimia nervosa, which were catalysed by "hardcore"
professional pressure and managerial demands from her work towards making
her first album. She recalled returning to the studio to re-record some
vocals, only to be told that the person who summoned her there wanted to
discuss her weight, and that she couldn't be successful if she was fat.
She lived on a diet of carrots, black coffee and Melba toast, and her
weight fluctuated fifteen to twenty pounds. She subsequently began
therapy, which she called "a long process to un-program. I try to
remember, whatever my body is, it's perfect the way it is".
By mid 2004, Morissette had become an ordained minister with the Universal
Life Church, a religious organization that offers anyone semi-immediate
ordination as a minister free of charge.
In 2002 she began dating actor Ryan Reynolds. In June 2004, Morissette
announced her engagement. In June 2006, People magazine reported that
Morissette and Reynolds had split, but neither party confirmed the report.
The following month, a source said that they were together. Contact Music
reported that their split was a "rumour" and they were pictured holding
hands in Los Angeles. In February 2007, representatives for Morissette and
Reynolds announced that they had mutually decided to end their engagement.
In 2007-2009 she dated environmental lawyer Tom Ballanco. Since October
2009 she has been dating musician Mario Treadway (MC Souleye).
In her May 2004 interview to the British newspaper The Mirror she
discussed her past relationships, having dated a twenty-nine year-old man
at age fourteen and, briefly, her experiences with drugs. In the article,
she was quoted as saying: "My addictions were work and food. I smoked pot
once in a while, but I'm too much of a control freak to be a drug person".
In February 2005, Morissette became a naturalized citizen of the United
States while maintaining her Canadian citizenship. Morissette refers to
herself as a Canadian-American.
In a Rolling Stone interview she revealed that she was going to spend 2006
working on a memoir. She said of her book, "it will be all the wisdom I've
accrued in the thirty-one years of my life. A lot about relationships,
fame, travel, body-image issues, spirit — with a lot of self-deprecating
humor peppered throughout, 'cause I just can't help it". As of May 2008,
Morissette was halfway through writing this memoir that will focus on
women's issues. It will have chapters on sexuality, beauty, relationships
and work and was partially inspired by young women who regularly come up
to her and tell her their stories of personal pain.
In early 2009, after reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live,
Morissette adopted a vegan diet which helped her lose weight and get
In the autumn of 2009 Morissette ran the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon (11
October 2009) in 4:17:03. She raised over $3,000 for the National Eating
Disorders Association (NEDA) for this race. Three weeks later, she ran the
New York City Marathon (1 November 2009) in 4:28:45.