From early childhood onwards, Avril Lavigne always stood out among
the 5000 residents of Napanee, Ontario -- her 1984 birthplace.
At first distinguished from her female peers because of her affinity
for the baseball field in the summer and the hockey rink in the
winter, Avril became recognizable in the community on the basis
of her musical performances.
By age 10, she had graduated from the local church choir to the
regional fairgrounds, singing country music in competitions. Three
years later, Avril began making her impact outside of Napanee,
as her vocal skill won her the grand prize in a radio station
contest: a trip to the city of Ottawa, to perform a duet in concert
with another Ontario native, country music star Shania Twain.
While this probably ranked as the pinnacle of pubescence for any
other 13-year-old girl, Avril went on to accomplish far greater
things before leaving adolescence.
By the time Avril reached high school, her vocal prowess seemed
rivaled only by her ability to play the guitar, and she began
sending videotapes of her stage performances to labels and management
companies throughout North America. Following a host of rejections,
her talent eventually caught the eyes of Nettwerk Management,
an organization that fostered other such Canadian acts as Sarah
McLachlan, Sum 41 and Barenaked Ladies.
Nettwerk arranged for Avril to fly down to New York City to meet
with some other songwriters and begin work on a demo tape. As
it turned out, Avril was signed before she even had a chance to
complete the demo. An Arista Records representative came to visit
Avril at her studio, and was sufficiently impressed with her voice
to return with Arista CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid, who immediately
signed the then 16-year-old to a contract.
After briefly returning to Canada, Avril made the move to Manhattan
to embark on her professional career, accompanied by her older
brother Matt as an escort. Although she had been signed to Arista
strictly as a vocalist, Avril balked at the notion of singing
someone else's songs and insisted on having a hand in the writing
process. When she failed to click with any New York-based songwriters,
Avril made her third move of the year, this time to Los Angeles.
It was on the West Coast that she met producer/songwriter Cliff
Magness, with whom she immediately developed a rapport. The two
began composing together, and within a few months' time, Avril's
debut album had begun to take shape.
Avril's first single, "Complicated," was released in
the early spring of 2002, and immediately began scaling the charts
across the continent. By the summer, the track had reached the
top spot among Canadian singles, and was in the top 15 on the
Billboard Adult 40 list. The popularity of "Complicated"
paved the way for the success of Avril's first full-length CD,
Let Go, which debuted at #8 on the Billboard charts in June 2002.
While Avril's vocal range and high-energy musical style has brought
her comparisons ranging from Alanis Morissette to Pink, she has
been adamant in positioning herself as a unique artist, one who
runs counter to the mainstream. This persona has been nurtured
thanks to the lyrics of such songs as "Sk8er Boi," wherein
Avril is none too subtle in voicing her anti-conformist stance,
and through her public remarks regarding other female musicians,
notably Britney Spears.
It is a formula which, to date, has worked like a charm: for
a debut artist, Avril boasts a staggering fan base, and the media
interest surrounding this young singer seems far from receding.
Conjoin this one-of-a-kind personality with a memorable voice
and obvious musical talents, and it seems as if Avril may be in
the spotlight for some time to come.