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July 2004

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 30, 1998  

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.





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