Avril Lavigne enjoys a multi-faceted career as both a singer/songwriter and would-be actress. Her transition from skater-chick teen idol to grown-up songstress was accomplished seemingly overnight but she has doubled her fan-base since and earned respect for breaking from expectations. In a nutshell, she's a woman who knows her mind and isn't afraid to say so.
Avril Lavigne was born in the tiny town of Napanee, Ontario, Canada (population 5000) on 27 September 1984. Her French-Canadian parents John and Judy were devout Baptists and when Lavigne began to sing along with her mother's church songs at the age of two, Judy soon noticed her daughter's natural vocal talents.
Soon she joined the local church choir and taught herself to play guitar, and her vocation was already sealed by the time she had reached high school. "I always knew this was what I had to do," she explains. "I remember when I was really young, standing on my bed like it was a stage, singing at the top of my lungs and visualising thousands of people surrounding me.”
Having written her own songs as soon as she was old enough to put pen to paper, it wasn't long before Lavigne began showcasing her work in local talent contests. As chance would have it, a performance in a bookstore in Canada was spotted by her first professional manager Cliff Fabri. While singing at the Lennox Community Theatre in 1998 she won a fan in local folk singer Steve Medd, who invited her to perform vocals on his song 'Touch The Sky' (1999).
By the time Lavigne reached sweet 16, she had been signed to Arista Records, moved to Los Angeles and started working on her first major album release. 'Let Go' was released in June 2002 and debuted at number two in the US charts and climbed to the top spot in the UK, setting a record as the youngest female soloist to do so.
Lavigne's grungey pop-rock sound appealed to teens worldwide and it was no surprise that she was named 'Best New Artist' at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. She won four of the six categories she was nominated for at the Juno Awards and was nominated for five Grammys (2003) – no mean feat for her first ever release.
Lavigne chose to style herself in tomboy fashion and became instantly known for her skater-girl combat trousers and just-rolled-out-of-bed look, which of course instantly connected her to thousands of American teens who identified with this typical ‘couldn’t care less’ image.
Lavigne soon garnered a reputation for being edgy and outspoken, seemingly never afraid to say what she thought. Never one to shy away from a confrontation, she received some bad press in 2004 when she began a public feud with actress/singer Hilary Duff. At that time, Duff was well-known for her squeaky-clean image and reportedly ticked off Lavigne for apparently being angry that fans had started dressing in the same way as her. Lavigne's retort was to label Duff a 'mommy's girl' who should 'go screw herself'.
Her second album ‘Under My Skin’ was released in 2004 in the US and proved Lavigne’s talents as a songwriter through the less head-banging, more mature style of music. She wrote most of the album with Canadian singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk and it equalled the success of her debut by shooting to number one in several countries, including the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
‘Under My Skin’ earned Lavigne respect from the more serious ears of the music critics as they lauded her various talents, rather than simply dismissing her as a skater with attitude. Gone were the angst-ridden lyrics of her first album, instead Lavigne began to be influenced by her transition into adulthood (now aged 19), saying "I grew up so much (since the last album). The songs on ‘Under My Skin’ are definitely deeper than those on ‘Let Go.’"
Growing up obviously paid off in the credibility stakes too, as she went on to win two World Music Awards in the ‘World's Best Pop/Rock Artist’ and ‘World's Best Selling Canadian Artist’ categories, as well as five Juno Awards including ‘Artist of the Year’ and ‘Pop Album of the Year’.
With a more sophisticated sound would come a more sophisticated image, and Lavigne stunned funs by ditching her tomboy ways and emerging overnight as a feminine, newly blonde songstress kitted out in designer dresses. 'My band was all guys, so I was only around guys, but when I got older I started being more of a chick', was the simple explanation.
2004 would mark a transition in Lavigne’s personal life when she met Sum 41 frontman, Deryck Whibley and the two fell for one another instantly, with Lavigne tattooing a heart and the initial 'D' on her wrist. In June 2005 Whibley proposed in Venice and the couple tied the knot in 2006, Lavigne well and truly confirming her transformed girly image in a picture-perfect Vera Wang wedding dress.
When it came to writing her third album, she set her mind on producing a collection of songs which harnessed the energy she’d so enjoyed while touring in support of ‘Under My Skin’. The resulting up-beat, full-throttle approach became ‘The Best Damn Thing’ which was released in 2007 and went straight to number one in the US charts, with the single ‘Girlfriend’ becoming her first US number one single.
The new release suffered some controversy when Lavigne’s co-writer and record label were sued by songwriters James Gangwer and Tommy Dunbar who believed that ‘Girlfriend’ had taken its melody from their own song released in 1979 - ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’. The case was eventually settled out of court.
Further trouble would arise when Lavigne’s co-writer on her second album, Kreviazuk jumped on the plagiarism bandwagon and made comments in an interview that belittled Lavigne’s songwriting abilities and accused Lavigne of using one of Kreviazuk's songs on an album without crediting her as the writer. A public apology soon followed from Kreviazuk though, not surprising considering that they both shared the same management company.
Lavigne has added more strings to her bow by launching her own clothing line in July 2008 called Abbey Dawn (her childhood nickname) and also appearing in the animated film 'Over the Hedge' with a legion of A-list stars including Bruce Willis and Steve Carell. Further acting roles are said to be in the pipeline and no doubt a fourth album will follow too.
It seems that Lavigne has entered a new phase in her life, emerging from her early years of teenage angst to become a serious songwriter, wife and actress. The inner rockstar will always have its place in her life and there’s no question of her hanging up her mic just yet – she’s just learnt that she can have fun without the extra dose of attitude. 'I'm basically just a girl who likes to write, who likes to rock out, and who wants music to be a part of my life forever.'
Unfortunately for Lavigne, her marriage to Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 did not stand the test of time and the pair announced that they were separating on 17 September 2009. Their divorce was finalised on 16 November 2010.
The former husband and wife did not let the small matter of a divorce interfere with their professional life, and Whybley went on to co-produce Lavinge's latest album, 'Goodbye Lullaby'. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the 26-year-old said that 'everyone's always surprised that we're still so close'.
'Goodbye Lullaby' was not the singer's first attempt at her fourth album, as she initially presented RCA Records with a string of acoustic tracks. Lavigne implied that RCA were less than impressed with her new, toned down style, and according to the singer-songwriter, they asked her if she could 'make a new record – something that's more today'. Rolling Stone states that Goodbye Lullaby is an album which 'meets the label halfway' and includes 'softer songs' mixed together with more 'throbbing productions'.
Lavigne began dating fellow Canadian rockerChad Kroeger frontman of the band Nickelback, in July 2012.The relationship blossomed after they began working together in March 2012 to write and record music for Lavigne's fifth album. Lavigne and Kroeger became engaged in August 2012, after one month of dating. The couple married in the South of France on 1 July 2013, which is Canada Day. They had their honeymoon in Portofino, Italy.