Avril Lavigne was originally known for her "skater" persona, but has since
shed that image in favour of a more sophisticated and feminine style,since about
2005 or 2006 although she has stated she is still a "rock chick" at heart.
Her first two albums, Let Go (2002) and Under My Skin (2004), have topped charts
in several countries. Avril Lavigne's third album Best Damn Thing (2007) is to
be released in April, 2007.
Avril is featured in Maxim magazine's Girls of Maxim gallery. In 2006, she was included in Canadian Business Magazine's ranking of the most powerful Canadians in Hollywood, grabbing the seventh position.
Lavigne was born in Belleville, Ontario to a French-born father, John, and a Franco-Ontarian mother, Judy. Both parents are Roman Catholic. Lavigne's musical talent was first spotted at the age of two when her mother says Lavigne began singing along with her on church songs. At age five she moved with her family to Napanee, Ontario, where she sang in a church choir and taught herself to play the guitar.
In 1998, Avril won a competition to sing with fellow Canadian singer Shania Twain on her first major concert tour. Avril Lavigne appeared alongside Twain at her concert in Ottawa, appearing on stage to sing.
Avril Lavigne was discovered by her first professional manager, Cliff Fabri, while singing country covers at a Chapters bookstore in Kingston, Ontario. During a performance with the Lennox Community Theatre, Avril was spotted by local folk singer Steve Medd, who invited her to sing on his song "Touch The Sky" for his 1999 album Quinte Spirit. She also sang on "Temple Of Life" and "Two Rivers" for his follow up album, My Window To You, in 2000.
At the age of sixteen she was signed by Ken Krongard, the artists-and-repertoire A&R representative of Arista Records, who invited the head of Arista, Antonio "L.A." Reid, to hear her sing in a New York City studio. She then completed work on her first album. Lavigne is extremely close to her younger sister Michelle Lavigne and her older brother Matthew Lavigne. Michelle is two years younger than Avril while Matt (Matthew) is three years older than Avril. On July 15, 2006, Avril married the lead singer of Canadian punk band Sum 41 Deryck Whibley.
The record company was hooking her up with proven writers and song doctors, But Avril and Fabri were looking for someone who played a similar role that Glen Ballard had played with Alanis Morissette.
The problem was, Fabri recalls, the company was fixated on what CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid saw at Lavigne’s three-song “audition” in October 2000, a performance that Reid had loved. But the three audition songs were not what Fabri and Avril were interested in pursuing, even though one of the songs was Lavigne’s very first co-write, a pretty song called Why, which she wrote with Peter Zizzo.
The audition numbers had a definite New Country flavor and both manager and artist were determined to head out in a tougher, rock-pop direction.
“I think the record company was getting worried or upset,” Fabri recalled. “It seemed like we were turning down everything but, even though Avril knew and accepted that we needed the help, the material just wasn’t what we had decided she was going to put out.”
The first writer provided by the company on the West Coast turned out to be very much along the lines of the people they had worked with in NYC.
“Avril Lavigne was very stressed out—I promised her she wouldn’t have to go through that again,” Fabri said.
He phoned a friend at EMI Publishing in New York, almost begging for a recommendation for a good co-writer for Lavigne. The first suggestion was Clif Magness, an Oscar-nominated writer/producer/musician who’d worked with stars ranging from Barbra Streisand to Cheap Trick.
Magness was ideal, Fabri recalls, because Magness knew nothing about Lavigne, so he was carrying no baggage. His attitude was refreshing and I detected instant chemistry between him and Avril.
Four hours after they met, Lavigne and Magness had written Unwanted. The song is the antithesis of New Country, featuring “alternative”-type acoustic-guitar-based verses with hard choruses and sprinklings of keyboards and electronica.
“We all flipped out,” Fabri recalls. “But I told Clif right away the label was going to hate the song.”
Sure enough, when Fabri played the song over his cellphone for John Hecker, boss of Hi-Fi Records in New York, which had been brought into the “Lavigne Project,” Hecker said the label was not going to change formats to accommodate “this rock song.”
“I don’t blame John’s attitude, they were just being protective of Avril,” Fabri says now. “The problem was, they didn’t know Avril . ”Unwanted" set the path for the whole "Let Go" CD.
For unusual reasons, Fabri and Avril were on their own, without the usual record company representatives to ride shotgun, so they decided to fight that country-vs-rock battle another day. Shortly after, they had their first meeting with Arista-supplied songwriters/producers The Matrix, a hot collective featuring Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards and Scott Spock, who, individually or together, had done everything from solo work to songs and production for Christina Aguilera to movie songs.
The group had a country-flavoured tune already written at the request of the label, Fabri recalls, and Fabri once again went into his spiel that Avril would not perform anyone else’s songs on this record. She was more than willing to co-write and take advice, but it had to be her material. This time, things were different. For the first time, Fabri had “product” for The Matrix to listen to. “He played Unwanted for them, they were excited and talked to each other for a minute and said they really preferred to write when the artist participates.”
That afternoon, the monster hit Complicated, the album’s first single and probably the record’s identifying song, was born. “Everyone who listened to that song knew Avril had just been born, she had a hit song,” Fabri says. “It was a very happy time.” The song, Complicated, was like jet fuel for the Let Go record and the album came in on time and under budget. From about May 2001 until last fall, Lavigne co-wrote every tune, working again with Magness and the Matrix and back with Peter Zizzo and Curt Frasca.
Lavigne described her first release Let Go as an album with "a couple of rock songs on it" and has voiced a desire to write more rock-oriented songs in the future. Let Go was released on June 4, 2002 in the United States, reaching number two there and number one in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This made Lavigne the youngest female soloist to have a number-one album in the UK up until that time. In 2003, 17-year-old English singer Joss Stone broke Lavigne's record.
Just over one month after its release, "Let Go" was certified both Gold and Platinum by the RIAA and reached multi-Platinum status in late-August, and was certified 3x Platinum two weeks after. Before the end of 2002, just six months after its debut, it was certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA. It sold a total of 13,197,000 copies worldwide. It was the best selling album of the year for a female artist and for a debut album in 2002.
Four singles from the album were released. "Complicated" went to number one in Australia, while reaching number two on the U.S. Hot 100, and it was also one of the best-selling Canadian singles of 2002. Avril Lavigne tied a record set by Natalie Imbruglia when "Complicated" held the number one spot on the Contemporary Hit Radio chart (which tracks air play on the radio) for 11 weeks in a row. Natalie Imbruglia previously held the record with her song "Torn", which also held onto number one for 11 weeks. "Sk8er Boi" reached the top ten in the U.S. and Australia, "I'm with You" reached the top ten in the U.S and the UK, and "Losing Grip" reached the top ten in Taiwan, and the top twenty in Chile.
Lavigne was named "Best New Artist" at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, won four Juno Awards in 2003 (out of six nominations), a World Music Award for World's Best-Selling Canadian Singer, and was nominated for 8 Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year for "Complicated" and Best New Artist.
Lavigne's second album Under My Skin was released on May 25, 2004 in the U.S. It debuted at number one in the U.S., the UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Thailand, Korea and Hong Kong and sold more than 380,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week. Lavigne wrote most of the album with Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, though some tracks were co-written by Ben Moody (formerly of Evanescence), Butch Walker of Marvelous 3, and her former lead guitarist Evan Taubenfeld. Kreviazuk's husband, Our Lady Peace front man Raine Maida, co-produced the album with Butch Walker and Don Gilmore.
Lead single "Don't Tell Me" went to number one in Argentina and Mexico, the top five in the UK and Canada, and the top ten in Australia and Brazil. "My Happy Ending" reached the top ten in the U.S., and was her third-biggest hit there, but third single "Nobody's Home" did not make the top forty. The fourth single from the album, "He Wasn't", reached a fair twenty-three in the UK and twenty-five in Australia, and was not released in the U.S. Fall To Pieces was released as the final single from the album, but did not do as well as previous singles.
Lavigne performing in Geneva in June 2005.Lavigne won two World Music Awards in 2004 for World's Best Pop/Rock Artist and World's Best-Selling Canadian Artist. She received five Juno Award nominations in 2005, picking up three, including Fan Choice Award, Artist of the Year, and Pop Album of the Year. She also won the award for Favourite Female Singer at the eighteenth Annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Lavigne co-wrote "Breakaway" with Matthew Gerard, which was recorded by Kelly Clarkson for the soundtrack to the film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). "Breakaway" was later included on Clarkson's second album Breakaway, being released as the album's first single. "Breakaway" peaked in the U.S. top ten and provided Clarkson with a substantial hit.
Avril was touring throughout most of 2005 and pursuing her acting and modelling careers. Lavigne represented Canada at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. She performed her song, "Who Knows", during the eight minutes of the Vancouver 2010 portion. She also was the voice of Heather the possum in Dreamworks motion picture, Over The Hedge.
Lavigne also co-wrote with Dr. Luke, the song "Keep Holding On" for the movie soundtrack 'Eragon'. It has peaked at #17 in Billboard Hot 100.
Her third album The Best Damn Thing is currently set for release on April 17th, 2007 and is produced by Butch Walker, her husband Deryck Whibley (Sum 41), Rob Cavallo (Green Day, The Goo Goo Dolls, My Chemical Romance, Jewel), Dr. Luke and herself. Travis Barker (Blink-182) has also recorded drums for Lavigne's new album. On July 10, 2006, Avril Lavigne answered a Q&A on her official website stating that her next CD will be released in the first half of next year, most likely April. Avril says that her new album will contain love songs since 'that's what I'm feeling at the moment' and that she enjoys being able to write songs with Butch Walker. It is said on her message board on her official website that her new album will contain 15 songs. "Of course, I still have my boy-bashing songs, but they're very playful. So the record is really fun and cool and different and honestly, I think it's my best record yet. I can say that with confidence." Posted on her MySpace blog she revealed that the first single from the album will be "Girlfriend", which is due to be released in February.
"Girlfriend" single cover."Keep Holding On", a single playing on radio in North
America, will be on the album in addition to being featured on the Eragon
soundtrack. It has been said on a fansite that filming for the video for the
first single off The Best Damm Thing, Girlfriend, will commence in mid-January.
The song will be played for the first time on radio in the USA on January 29,
Lavigne made her film debut in the animated film Over the Hedge, which is based on the comic strip of same name, alongside William Shatner, Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, and Steve Carell. She is also acting in the Richard Gere film The Flock, and her third project is Fast Food Nation, based on her favourite book. Avril has also written and recorded a new song titled "Keep Holding On" with Dr. Luke, to be part of the Eragon movie soundtrack, and will likely make the third album. The song was released for digital download on November 28th, and made its worldwide debut on radio on November 17th.
Until 2003, Lavigne traveled with a bag full of about 30 neckties. Some of them she bought, and the rest she took from her father; some were sent to her by fans. Lavigne stopped wearing neckties in 2003, as she was horrified at the media references to her style overshadowing her music, and that she was starting a fashion trend.
The classification of Lavigne's style of music has been debated. All Music Guide and other reviewers consider her to be "teen pop" or "adult/alternative pop-rock". It is questioned whether her music style is punk. The reason for the confusion appears to be for her punk-like appearance early in her career, probably started by her record company in the beginning of her career as the punky alternative to Britney Spears. However, there have been several occasions where she has stated "I'm not punk."Avril told Vainquer Magazine in April 2005, that she considered her music to be pop rock.
Avril spoke about her new look in a September 2006 interview. She explains, "When I was in high school I was a little s---, hanging out with the guys, getting drunk, smoking, getting in fights, playing hockey. My band were all guys, so I was only around guys, but when I got older I started being more of a chick. I broke out on the scene looking like the 17-year-old that I was. And from then to now I look really different—but that's called growing up."
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