December 7, 2004

SJP


Artist: Morissette, Alanis




Born: June 1, 1974 as Alanis Nadine Morissette in Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa, Ontario's Morissette began her music career as a singer and performer but was first a regular on the kids' TV show 'You Can't Do That On Television'. With money she saved from her TV work, Morissette recorded her self-penned songs "Find The Right Man" and "Fate Stay With Me" with Rich Dodson (The Stampeders) in Toronto and released it as a single.

She caught her big musical break at Major's Hill Park during the 1987 springtime Tulip Festival run by local entertainment whiz Stephan Klovan. She had impressed Klovan by singing "Find The Right Man" -- she was 12 -- and so Klovan made her a feature attraction in the show.

Recognizing a talent in the making, Klovan searched out opportunities to showcase the singer. Klovan found a way of profiling the young singer by getting her to sing the National Anthem at high-profile events.

Her first job was at the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships in Ottawa during Klovan's work on Olympic skating medalist Elizabeth Manley's TV special. Producers asked him to supply the anthem so he got Morissette and two Ottawa musicians to record a rollicking version of the song which was well received.

One of the musicians was Leslie Howe, an Ottawa writer/producer/musician who was half of synth-pop duo One To One. Starting in 1988 and over the course of five years, Morissette worked in Howe's home studio collaborating on what would become the making of her career.

Klovan's original motive for working with Howe was to record material for Morissette to to land a slot on 'Star Search'. Morissette did an updated remake of The Osmond's "One Bad Apple" for the 'Star Search' audition (which she never appeared on).

Howe, Morissette and keyboardist Serge Cote put together her dance tunes while Klovan groomed her looks with assistance from clothing retailers. Morissette would end up modelling for a Dalmy's catalogue and made instore appearances.

Howe and Klovan then set their sights on a record deal for the singer. They produced a an expensive and self-financed video for one of the Howe demos called "Walk Away" filmed around the Eiffel Tower in France.

Howe managed to convince MCA A & R director John Alexander to audition the video. While waiting for her big break she was under great pressure as she was still attending Glebe Collegiate, recording, and still performing in cover band The New York Fries as a means to hone her live chops.

Something had to give and it was her work with the New York Fries. Shortly after, MCA signed the young singer and in April, 1991, the label issued 'Alanis'. As Alanis, Morissette was compared to other teen sensations of the time like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. Detractors, however, couldn't stop Alanis' turn on radio which jumped all over the first single "Too Hot". By July 1991, "Too Hot" had edged into contemporary hit radio Top 10

The second single/video "Feel Your Love" followed. Also that summer, Morissette sang at the Ottawa Rough Riders' half-time show and execs from MCA flew in from Toronto to present her with a gold record (50,000 copies in Canada).

In March 1992, she was went to the Juno Awards after being nominated for three catagories: 'Single Of The Year', 'Best Dance Record' and 'Most Promising Female Vocalist' (the latter award she won). Her debut album eventually sold 200,000 which made it a tough act to follow.

Harder still was Morissette's return to school after becoming a Canadian personality. Morissette conquered the awkwardness by burying herself in the recording studio. With a more mature take on the groove between the grooves, Morissette returned with 'Now Is The Time' in October 1992.

The first single/video (filmed in Rome) was "An Emotion Away", which found itself at the top of the pop charts. The sales of 'Now Is The Time' were moderate compared to her debut and the album slipped out of sight.

Despite the impressive sales, Morissette's career had not been lucrative for the singer or Leslie how who, despite receiving a recording budget for each album was still in debt from his initial investment in the singer's career.

Enter agent/manager Scott Welch (who had made the career of Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader Paul Abdul as a singer). MCA's John Alexander approached Welch in 1993 to try and secure a stateside release for Alanis' two albums. Welch thought she was an okay pop singer but put the records aside not thinking much of the material. Alexander insisted that Welch should meet Morissette and get to know the mature-for-her age young singer.

Welch was impressed with her and suggested she look at a career change and develop her as an adult. The first step for Morissette was to relocate to Toronto and gain some new experiences and rub elbows with the industry. Alexander fronted her some cash to work on new demo tapes and live on.

Over two years she worked with an estimated 100 songwriters with little useable material because Morissette was exercising her creativity and the songwriters were merely hired guns trying to fill spaces on her next album.

Her time in Toronto was a valuable life experience, as was a trip to Nashville but produced no concrete material. She began making trips to Los Angeles to write with people there, too, but it provided its own set of stresses including getting robbed at gunpoint.

After several false starts, Morissette hooked up with a strong musical force in Glen Ballard who was originally a keyboardist and staff producer for Quincy Jones whose resume read like the Who's Who of modern music including Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole and dozens of other big names.

In February, 1994, during a brief trip to Los Angeles, Morissette arrived at Ballard's studio ready to write and fifteen minutes later they were deep in the middle of their first tune, "The Bottom Line", and had clicked immediately.

The song never saw a release nor did the first half dozen or so. But a connection had been made and Morissette relocated to LA so that the two could work consistantly over extended periods of time.

While writing they decided to take advantage of Ballards home studio set up and what initially were intended as demos became the core of her third album 'Jagged Little Pill'.

Because of the speed and quality of their output, Ballard suggested Welch hold off on searching for a new record deal. The duo didn't want a label tampering with the creative process and instead aimed to finish the new album and sell it complete - as a single vision.

Once the team finished the record Welch set up meetings with several labels but Morissette found her artistic outlook clashing with the corporate agenda of many of the labels. Several labels showed mild interest but it was Madonna' vanity label Maverick which showed they were truly willing to go the distance provided Morissette had the live chops to back up her cutting edge material.

Ballard and Morissette did an acoustic showcase for execs at the label and she was signed immediately.

"You Oughta Know" was issued on a compilation CD issued with a music magazine. An influential L.A. radio station picked up the track and controvery followed with the inclusion of the word 'f*ck' in one of the song's verses. The audience reaction was instant and the song was soon added to stations right across the US.

But instead of jumping on the hype band wagon, Welch and Morissette agreed to limit the singer's over exposure factor by not appearing on too many TV shows or granting too many interviews and instead she hit the road to test her band and the reaction of her material with live audiences.

Touring like a real struggling rock act in a cramped van for months on end finally paid off when the group was featured on the MTV Awards in New York performing "You Oughta Know". That appearance was followed up another on 'Saturday Night Live.'

Her conquering of Canada however, would be tougher given the industry and public perception of Alanis The Disco Queen. Morissette showcased for label reps in Banff, Alberta and no one told them who she was -- just let the music speak -- and the reps were blown away.'

Not wanting a repeat of her previous monetary fiasco with MCA, Morissette took no advance royalties and instead negotiated a percentage based on future sales. Figuring her album would do a standard 200,000 to 250,000 units, Warner Music agreed.

'Jagged Little Pill' raced up the charts and critics slammed it as Morissette's opportunistic attempt at riding the 'alternative' music bandwagon. The album would go on to have 5 Top-10 singles and sell over 15 million copies worldwide.

Grammy Awards, Juno Awards and video awards followed with Morissette touring to record audiences and ticket sales. A final statement on the album's success was released in 1997 in the form of a full-length live video also called "Jagged Little Pill" and Morissette retired to the pressure of writing her born-again sophomore effort.

So far only the song "Uninvited" has emerged from the soundtrack to the Nicholas Cage movie "City Of Angels". In the interim she's also launched her 'Can't Not Tour' Tour which saw her perform at the 1998 Tibetan Freedom concert in the US.

With the much anticipated follow-up album 'Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie', featuring the single "Thank U", being released for the pre-Christmas 1998 rush, Morissette has eased herself back into the limelight with 12 low-key promotional concerts at club, not concert, venues.




Singles
1986 Fate Stay With Me/Find The Right Man (independent) 1991 Too Hot (MCA) 1991 Feel Your Love (MCA) 1991 Walk Away (MCA) 1992 An Emotion Away/When We Meet Again (MCA) 1992 Plastic (MCA) 1993 No Apologies (MCA) 1993 Real World (MCA) 1993 Change (Is Never A Waste Of Time) (MCA) 1995 You Oughta Know (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) [You Oughta Know (album version)/You Oughta Know (Jimmy the Saint Blend)/Perfect (Acoustic version)/Wake Up 1996 Hand In My Pocket/Head Over Feet (Live Acoustic)/Not The Doctor (Live Acoustic) (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1996 Hand In My Pocket/Right Through You (Live Acoustic)/Forgiven (Live Acoustic) (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1996 Ironic (Album Version)/Forgiven (Live)/Not The Doctor (Live Acoustic)/Wake Up (Live Acoustic) (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1996 Ironic/You Oughta Know (Live Acoustic At The Grammys)/Mary Jane (Live)/All I Really Want (Live) (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1996 You Learn/Your House (Live In Tokyo)/Wake Up (Modern Rock Live)/Hand In My Pocket (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1997 Head Over Feet (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1997 Uninvited (Warner Music) 1998 Thank U (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1999 Unsent (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1999 So Pure (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music)

Albums
1991 Alanis (MCA) 1992 Now is the Time (Ghetto/MCA) 1995 Jagged Little Pill (Maverick/Reprise) 1995 Alanis [re-issue] (MCA) 1995 Space Cakes (Live 1995) (Japanese CD) (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1998 Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music) 1999/11/23 MTV Unplugged (Maverick/Reprise/Warner Music)

Video


Compilation Tracks
1998 "Uninvited" on 'City Of Angels' [Original Soundtrack]' (Warner Music) 1999 Baba (Live 1999) on 'No Boundaries [Album For Kosovo]' (Sony Music) 1999 "Still" on 'Dogma' (soundtrack to Kevin Smith film)





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