Who says a teenage princess needs to be all pink and bubbly? Avril Lavigne, one of the most well-known teenage singers of her generation, proved you can be both tomboy-ish and artistic and still attract millions of young fans. Known for her big hits such as 'Complicated' and 'Girlfriend', Avril always performs from the heart and from experience.
Avril Ramona Lavigne, as is her full name, was born in Ontario in Canada. Her father, Jean-Claude Joseph, was a technician for Bell Canada, and her mother, Judy, was a stay-at-home mom. She also has an older brother Matthew and a younger sister Michelle. They are of English, Scottish and German descent, as well as French-Canadian from their father’s side.
Avril’s father was the one to name her after the French word for April.
Avril showed her talent for singing from a very young age. ‘When I was two, my mom said she knew I was going to be a singer. I’ve been performing ever since I was a young kid’, she said. ‘So I’ve known I wanted to do this for a while. I always knew in my heart that I’d be singing.’ It is said that her parents were stunned to hear her sing on the way home from church. She would also sing herself to sleep. Her father bought her a microphone and some instruments and turned their basement into a studio to help support her talent – he was also keen on music since he played bass. ‘My mom wouldn’t let me sing Strawberry Wine because it had ‘wine’ in it’, she said about her mom, who was also very supportive of her talents.
In school, Avril often misbehaved and was kicked out of class, until she was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin, which she still takes up to this day.
When she was fourteen years old, her parents took her to karaoke sessions, and let her perform at country fairs. Around that time, she began writing her own songs – ‘Can’t Stop Thinking About You’ was the first one she wrote.
1999 proved to be an important year for Avril. She was fifteen years old then, and won a radio contest, with the prize being a performance with Shania Twain at the Corel Centre in Ottawa. They sang ‘What Made You Say That’. That same year, Avril was spotted by Stephen Medd, a singer who wanted her to contribute to his album. They collaborated on a song then, as well as on a few others on his next album. Also in 1999, she got her first manager, Cliff Fabri, who spotted her when she was singing covers at a bookstore. Soon, she was invited to go to New York and work with a producer. She wrote the song called ‘Why’.
In 2000, the head of Arisa Records got an invitation to hear Avril sing. She impressed him so much that she got a $1.25 million deal for two albums. Avril, backed up by her parents, decided to accept the offer and quit school. ‘People ask me if I regret wasting my last teen years on becoming a singer. You know something? I don’t. Because singing is my life. When and if you want something so badly you’ll see. I mean, I’m just so blessed to be doing what I love to do and to have been given this opportunity. I thank God because there are so many more talented people out there that will never even come close to getting a record deal’, she said about her decision.
Avril’s image was partly her own, and partly created by her record company. She loved the skating fashion and her band members were chosen to fit the personality of Canadian punk rock followers. She then went on to prepare her debut album, which she did by collaborating with different producers and songwriters. The album, titled Let Go, was completed in January 2002 and released in June that year.
The success of the album made Avril the youngest female soloist, by that time, with a number one album in the UK Albums Chart. The album also got certified six times platinum and Avril became the best-selling female artist of the year. She was just seventeen at the time.
The songs from the album became great hits, as is to be expected. The debut single ‘Complicated’ was one of the biggest hits of the decade, and ‘Sk8ter Boi’ and ‘I’m With You’ were not far from its success. This got Avril nominated for eight Grammy Awards. She became famous at home, in the US, and worldwide. In 2003, she posed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
In 2004, Avril released her second album, titled Under My Skin, and she was the one to write most of its tracks. The album was also a great success, with hit songs ‘Don’t Tell Me’, ‘My Happy Ending’ and ‘Nobody’s Home’. She also wrote a song for the soundtrack for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement – it was sang by Kelly Clarkson, as well as the theme song for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. That year, Avril went on her first world tour that lasted a year, called Bonez Tour.
In 2006, Avril performed at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics and wrote a song for the movie Eragon called ‘Keep Holding On’.
In 2007, she released her third album, called The Best Damn Thing, with the single ‘Girlfriend’ becoming another significant song of the decade, and one of the most downloaded tracks worldwide of that year. The track was also recorded in eight different languages. Two more singles came out with this album – ‘When You’re Gone’ and ‘Hot’. In December of that year, Avril was featured on the Forbes list of the Top 20 Earners Under 25. In 2008, to promote her album, she went on another world tour, having trouble in Malaysia which wanted to ban her show there due to her stage moves being “too sexy”.
In 2010, Avril recorded a song for Tim Burton’s film Alice in Wonderland. She performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics, again and had her song remixed for Rihanna’s track ‘Cheers (Drink to That)’.
In 2011, Avril released her fourth album called Goodbye Lullaby and, in the months that came, created two songs for a Japanese animated film, Z.
In 2013, she released the album Avril Lavigne with singles ‘Here’s To Never Growing Up’, ‘Rock n Roll’ and ‘Let Me Go’. In 2015, she released a new single called ‘Fly’. Currently, she is working on another album, rumoured to be released in 2017.
When it comes to other career choices, Avril is also passionate about film, design and philanthropy, but it is important for her to be recognized not only as a singer, but also as a songwriter, as she keeps collaborating with numerous artists.
She appeared in numerous films, mostly taking on small roles for the pure enjoyment of acting, and building her film career slowly, such as Fast Food Nation, and giving her voice to the character of Heather in Over the Hegde in 2006.
In 2008, she launched her own clothing line Abbey Dawn, named after Avril’s childhood nickname and produced by Kohl’s, and her own fragrance called Black Star, created by Procter & Gamble Prestige Products, along with Forbidden Rose and Wild Rose.
When Avril appeared in the spotlight for the first time as a teenage star, she was quite the opposite of what other female singers of her age had to offer. She promoted skater fashion, and a tomboyish style. ‘I don’t want to sell sex. I’ve got so much more to say.’, she said. As she grew up, so did her style, and her look became more feminine with time, but still remaining a fusion between what’s cute and girlie and what’s dark and edgy. ‘I might look like a tough chick – and I am – but I’m also a hopeless romantic inside’, she says. Although she’s been called a punk princess throughout her career, she doesn’t like this description. ‘I have been labeled like I’m this angry girl, a rebel… punk, and I am so not any of them. I like to listen a lot to punk rock music, you can notice a certain influence of punk in my music. I like aggressive music, but pretty enough heavy pop-rock which is what I really do.’
Avril insists on being recognized as a quality songwriter, as she writes songs for herself and for others. She takes her inspiration from her own personal and emotional experience. ‘I can write a song a day’, she says. She denied, on many occasions, the involvement of other writers on some of her biggest hits, like ‘Complicated’. Like many artists, she too has been accused of plagiarism.
In 2007, Avril was featured in a manga called Avril Lavigne’s Make 5 Wishes, and it was made into two volumes. ‘I know that many of my fans read manga, and I’m really excited to be involved in creating stories that I know they will enjoy’, she said.
When it comes to helping others, Avril works closely with numerous charities, helping raise awareness about the fight against AIDS and many other issues. She even has her own charity, The Avril Lavigne Foundation, helping young people with serious illnesses.
‘No one really know what I’m really like, and you won’t unless you spend a day with me, or if you’re my friend. No one ever knows what anyone is like. Read all the interviews you want on them, it’s just the media talking and you can’t really get to know someone that way, obviously’, she said.
To prove she really is a hopeless romantic, Avril has been married twice already.
Her first husband was Deryck Whibley, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Sum 41, who was her boyfriend since Avril was nineteen years old. The couple got married in 2006, and divorced three years later, without any hard feelings or media sensations.
From 2010 to 2012, Avril dated Brody Jenner, the son of Bruce – now Caitlyn – Jenner and Linda Thompson.
In 2012, Avril began dating Chad Kroeger, frontman of Nickelback. They got engaged that same year and married the next. The couple divorced in 2015, and Avril posted their photo on Instagram when she announced the separation, writing: ‘Through not only the marriage, but the music as well, we’ve created many unforgettable moments. We are still, and forever will be, the best of friends, and will always care deeply for each other.’
Avril has numerous tattoos on her body, some she’s done for herself, and some she shares with her friends, as well as ex-boyfriends. One of the most controversial is the one of the word “f**k” written on her ribs.
She holds a French citizenship and she recently got more interested in perfecting her French language. She moved to Paris to study, and even had her second wedding in France.
Besides dealing with ADHD, she also confirmed she has Lyme disease.
When it comes to her personality, Avril says: ‘I’m very free-spirited and crazy. I love to have fun, and I like doing stupid things. At the same time… I have a house. I have a car. I have a steady job. I have a business, and I have to make serious decisions.’