Alanis Morissette

Photo of Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette is a Grammy Award-winning Ottawa singer-songwriter and occasional actress. Her international debut album, Jagged Little Pill, (1995) sold 30 million copies. Three more studio albums followed – Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998), Under Rug Swept (2002), and So-Called Chaos (2004).

In 1993, Morissette moved from her home town of Ottawa to Toronto. Living alone for the first time in her life, Morissette met with a bevy of songwriters, but the results frustrated her. A visit to Nashville a few months later also proved fruitless.

Morissette began making trips to Los Angeles and working with as many musicians as possible, in the hopes of meeting a collaborator. During this time, Morissette met with producer and songwriter Glen Ballard.

According to Ballard, the connection was "instant" and within 30 minutes of meeting each other, they had begun experimenting with different sounds in Ballard's home studio. Ballard and Morissette penned their first song together, called "The Bottom Line."

The turning point in their sessions was the song "Perfect," which was written and recorded in 20 minutes. Morissette improvised the lyrics on the spot, while Ballard played guitar. The version of the song that appeared on Jagged Little Pill was the only take the pair had ever recorded.

In 1995, at the age of 21, Morissette released her first international album, Jagged Little Pill. Since expectations for the album were low, Morissette's manager and long-time friend Scott Welsh would later admit that he did not expect the album to sell any more than around 250,000 copies. The album debuted at number 118 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Things changed quickly when a Los Angeles DJ from an influential radio station stumbled onto "You Oughta Know" and began playing it non-stop. The song instantly garnered attention and a subsequent music video went into heavy rotation on MTV. The subject of the song, an ex-boyfriend, became the most guessed-about antagonist since Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."

In 1999, Morissette expanded her résumé by again delving into acting (following her childhood role on You Can't Do That On Television). She appeared as God in the Kevin Smith film Dogma. Smith, a fan of Morissette's, asked her to be in the film several times. She had to turn down the female lead and by the time her schedule allowed her to participate in the film, only the role of God, which involves virtually no dialogue and only an appearance at the very end of the film, was left.