Born in Belleville but raised in the small town of Napanee, Avril Lavigne and her deeply devout family attended their local church where she began singing in the choir. Although she excelled at sport she suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and was bullied which lead her to find solace in music. While she didn't enjoy her piano lessons and wasn't interested in learning the guitar from her father, she knew somehow or other that her future lay in music. Encouraged by her persevering parents who bought her instruments and converted their basement into a studio, she would perform at karaoke, local shows and country fairs where she sang popular country songs of the day. In the meantime she had also developed a keen interest in skateboarding which would influence both her early image and songs such as 'Sk8er Boi'. Lavigne's big break came in 1999 when she won a radio station competition to sing live onstage with Shania Twain at a forthcoming concert. This inspired her, and after duetting with Twain on 'What Made You Say That' in front of 20,000 people the young singer went home and picked up the guitar with greater determination.
With help from the Kingston, Ontario based Romanline Entertainment company she met Arista Records boss Antonio 'L.A.' Reid who signed her to the label. Moving initially to New York and then Los Angeles she worked on her debut album with the successful songwriting team The Matrix (Lauren Christy, Scott Spock and Graham Edwards) and producer Cliff Magness. Prior to the release of her 2002 debut album and still just seventeen years old Lavigne issued a memorable single 'Complicated' which became a huge international hit and topped the charts in several countries including her homeland of Canada where it quickly went platinum. The subsequent album Let Go followed a few weeks later and recognised as the best selling pop debut of the year it went on to sell in excess of twenty million copies worldwide and yielded more hits with both 'Sk8er Boi' and 'I'm With You' reaching the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. Clearly on a roll, Lavigne started writing her second album with a number of other musicians including singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk with her husband Raine Maida (lead singer with Our Lady Peace), Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody and singer/producer Butch Walker. The resulting Under My Skin was released in 2004, debuting on the US and UK charts at No 1 and although it failed to match the phenomenal sales of Let Go it still sold more than twelve million copies and boosted her catalogue with the hit singles 'Don't Tell Me', 'My Happy Ending' and 'Nobody's Home'.
With two enourmously successful albums to her credit 2004 saw Lavigne begin to diversify, she co-wrote the song 'Breakaway' for Kelly Clarkson, made a cameo appearance in the movie Going The Distance and two years later made her acting debut in the Greg Kinnear and Bruce Willis movie Fast Food Nation (2006). She also provided voice acting for the animation flick Over The Hedge (2006) and took a leading role in 2007's The Flock. After marrying Sum 41 singer and guitarist Deryck Whibley to much media atention in 2006 she returned to her music career the following year with the release of The Best Damn Thing with Whibley producing two tracks alongside other co-writers and producers including Butch Walker, Lukasz Gottwald, Kara DioGardi and Rob Cavallo. Another platinum seller, the album replicated its predecessor's success by topping the charts around the world including those in Canada, the USA and the UK while the single 'Girlfriend' became her first American No 1.
While the subsequent Best Damn Thing world tour and several more hit singles from the album kept her profile high over the next twelve months, following the release of the title track in June 2008 Lavigne largely disappeared from the public eye with her appearance at the closing ceremony at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver providing a rare sighting. With seven out of the eleven songs written by Lavigne alone, four co-written with hugely successful songwiter/producers Max Martin & Shellback (Karl Schuster) and the remaining three with her longtime guitarist Evan Taubenfeld, her fourth album Goodbye Lullaby was the most personal record of her career so far. Inevitably drawing on the breakdown of her turbulent sixteen month marriage to Whibley, many of the songs were deeply reflective observations on love and relationships. Finally hitting the shops in March 2011 the record was significantly less successful than her previous releases and despite the Top 10 placing of 'What The Hell' further singles failed to crack the Top 40. This blip seemed to reinvigorate her and Lavigne started work on her next record almost straight away and four months after her wedding ceremony to Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger she released her self-titled fifth album in November 2013. A radical departure from anything she had done before, the record veered between bouncy feel-good pop songs, aggressive expletive laden 'in your face' rock tunes with even a distorted guitar-driven track. Most of the album was co-written by Lavigne with Kroeger and Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody and featured two duets, one with her new husband ('Let Me Go') and another with Marilyn Manson ('Bad Girl').
Lavigne's career has seen her moving from teenage angst and skate punk inspired lyrics to more mature traditional singer/songwriter material and while recent releases have sold just a fraction of her early records she retains a significant fanbase and the goodwill of many critics. Outside of music she seems intent on furthering her acting career and she has even enjoyed some success with forays into both fashion and cosmetic businesses.
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