Over the course of Avril’s sixth full-length album and debut for BMG, she holds nothing back. She details each trial and tribulation from a perspective of triumph and emerges stronger than ever before. You’re hearing the songstress as she was always meant to sound. “This is me and my fight,” she affirms. “This album tells my story.”
That story seems unbelievable from afar. One difficult night in particular while she fights for her life, a lyrical idea rushes through her body. Those words comprise “Head Above Water.”
“I’m in a battle,” she sighs. “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.”
A year before, Avril’s fight had just begun. Touring the world in support of her gold-certified Top 5-charting self-titled fifth album, the artist’s health rapidly deteriorated. She can recall “barely making it” through 2014, while traveling from country to country and seeing numerous doctors on the road. No one could figure out what was wrong until her December, 2014 Lyme Disease diagnosis. She graced the cover of People Magazine to tell her story in early 2015. In the midst of her battle, she sat behind a piano and sang past the pain, architecting the early framework for her new album. 2017 represented a turning point as she slowly, but surely recovered strength and started recording again, starting with the first single “Head Above Water.”
“I fought Lyme Disease on antibiotics and herbs for two years. I tried to have a life, but was in bed the majority of the time, and it was very up and down with good days and bad days. “When you’re in bed for the better part of two years, you lose muscle mass,” explains Avril “and your entire body gets weak. I’ve had to work to get my endurance up. ‘Head Above Water’ was the first song that I sang. I was fresh off not singing for two years. I thought my voice would be weak, it ended up being stronger than ever. The break happened to actually be good for my vocal cords.”
In this headspace, she hit the studio with a bevy of collaborators, including Stephan Moccio, Chris Baseford, Johan Carlsson, Lauren Christy of The Matrix, Ryan Cabrera, Travis Clark, Bonnie McKee, JR Rotem, Mitch Allan and more.
“I really took my time to dig deep. Lyrically I pushed myself to be the best I possibly could and pulled from my experiences. Because I had so much quiet downtime, I was able to stay in the zone and get in touch with myself. Titles came from phrases I was saying that rang true to my experiences. Subjects were things that weighed heavy on my mind and heart. I sat at the piano and wrote my life.”
Over the course of nearly two decades, her global sales have eclipsed 40 million albums and 50 million singles with five albums bowing in the Top 5 of the Billboard Top 200 and two at #1. Among countless accolades, she garnered eight GRAMMY® Award nominations and took home eight Juno Awards. She stands out as “one of the Soundscan-era’s top-selling artists releasing albums in the U.S.” and “third best-selling Canadian female artist of all-time.” Billboard placed her in the Top 10 of its “Best of the 2000s” chart. Lavigne also set the Guinness World Record as “the youngest female solo artist to top the UK chart” and made history with “Girlfriend”—which became the “first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube”.
Additionally, she gives back at every turn via The Avril Lavigne Foundation. Since its inception in 2010, The Avril Lavigne Foundation, Avril and her fans around the world have been impacting lives for the better. Charitable beneficiaries including Easter Seals, Global Lyme Alliance, LymeLight Foundation, Make-A-Wish, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, Race to Erase MS, Special Olympics, Toronto Sick Kids, UNICEF and more have benefitted from the funds and awareness generated from these global efforts. The Avril Lavigne Foundation supports people with Lyme Disease, serious illness or disabilities. Through programs and grants, it provides funding, education and encouragement for its beneficiaries.
“Your support of The Avril Lavigne Foundation allows us to raise awareness and aid prevention of the Lyme epidemic and other diseases,” explains Avril. “We directly impact the lives of individuals and families affected by Lyme through treatment grants administered by our charitable partners; and we’ve recently created an alliance to accelerate scientific research. All proceeds raised through our initiatives enable us to expand the number of lives we’re able to transform.” For additional info on The Avril Lavigne Foundation, visit http://www.TheAvrilLavigneFoundation.org
Avril is on the board of Race To Erase MS, and is engaged with the work of both LymeLight Foundation and Global Lyme Alliance. Her impact extends far beyond the worlds of music and philanthropy into business, fashion, film, and television as well. Following an entrepreneurial instinct and lifelong passion for fashion, she introduced Abbey Dawn in 2008. Defined by her edgy aesthetic, fashion-forward perspective, and attitude, it continues to thrive with new launches seasonally as well as presence at New York Fashion Weeks and more. Expanding her influence and furthering her passion for performance, she starred in Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation, DreamWorks Animation’s film Over the Hedge, Fast Food Nation, The Flock, and more.
“I went through a lot to get here,” she leaves off. “The positive side is I didn’t stop living my life. Having music while I was healing and in recovery definitely pulled me out of my darkness. I had a goal to work towards and a purpose. I hope the album touches people. We all go through challenges in life. Some unfortunately are more serious than others. Having gone through the battle of my lifetime, I’m stronger than ever and looking forward to sharing my renewed voice and energy for my life with my fans through this new music.”
When Avril Lavigne first emerged on the music scene at age 17, she was known as a young, pop-punk tomboy who refused to resort to skin-baring come-ons, preferring to entice the record-buying public with her powerhouse voice, high-spirited melodies, and straight-talking lyrics. Staying steadfastly true to herself and putting music before image paid off both critically and commercially for the small-town girl from Napanee, Ontario. In 2002, Lavigne shot to international pop stardom with the 6x-platinum Let Go, followed by 2004’s 3x-platinum Under My Skin, 2007’s platinum The Best Damn Thing, and 2011’s Goodbye Lullaby, which sold more than two million copies worldwide. Over the course of her decade-plus career, Lavigne has scored a string of international hit singles, toured the globe on multiple sold-out tours, earned eight Grammy Award nominations, won eight Canadian Juno Awards, and sold more than 35 million albums and 20 million tracks worldwide.
A self-taught musician, who plays guitar, piano, and drums, and who writes on every one of her songs, Lavigne had already been singing and performing for several years before releasing Let Go, which featured the smash singles “Complicated” and “Sk8r Boi” and sold more than 16 million copies worldwide. Her second album, 2004’s Under My Skin, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, and sold more than eight million copies worldwide fueled by the hit singles “Don’t Tell Me” and “My Happy Ending.” Four years later came The Best Damn Thing, which featured the No. 1 single “Girlfriend.” Lavigne’s biggest record to date, “Girlfriend” was the top digital track of 2007, selling more than 7.3 million downloads in eight languages. “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” the first single off her self-titled new album (released in November), debuted at No. 1 in 22 countries and was a Top 10 single in 44 countries.
In addition, Lavigne has co-written songs for other artists, such as Kelly Clarkson (her smash hit “Breakaway”), as well as tracks for Demi Lovato and Leona Lewis. Her songs have also graced the soundtracks of such feature films as Eragon, Sweet Home Alabama, Bruce Almighty, Legally Blonde 2, The Princess Diaries 2, The House Bunny, and Alice in Wonderland. (She has appeared as an actress in the films Over the Hedge, Fast Food Nation and The Flock.) In 2010, Lavigne wrote “Alice” for Tim Burton’s film fantasy, which was included on the compilation album Almost Alice. She also brought her best-selling fashion and lifestyle brand Abbey Dawn into the mix, designing “Alice in Wonderland” pieces that were sold in stores in connection with the film’s release.
Lavigne has been wildly successful as an entrepreneur with Abbey Dawn, a youthful collection of apparel and accessories inspired by her life, music, and worldwide travels, as well as three fragrances, Black Star, Forbidden Rose, and Wild Rose. Over the years, she has designed specialty pieces and designated the net proceeds to The Avril Lavigne Foundation, which works in partnership with such organizations as Easter Seals, Erase MS and Make-A-Wish. To date, the Avril Lavigne Foundation has raised more than half a million dollars to provide support to children and youth living with serious illnesses or disabilities through awareness-raising initiatives and grants.
Though devoted to her creative and philanthropic endeavors, music still comes first for Lavigne, who has just released her fifth album, simply titled Avril Lavigne. It finds Lavigne working with new collaborators (Chad Kroeger and David Hodges, with whom she wrote eight songs, as well as Martin Johnson, J Kash, Matt Squire, and others) and experimenting with a wide range of sounds, from nostalgia-tinged, carefree pop (“Here’s To Never Growing Up,” “Bitchin’ Summer,” “17”) to unapologetic rock (“Rock N Roll,” “Bad Girl,” featuring Marilyn Manson) to sassy dub-step-flavored pop (“Hello Kitty”) to her trademark epic ballads, “Hush Hush” and “Let Me Go,” a duet with Nickelback’s Kroeger, whom she married in July 2013. Introduced by Lavigne’s manager, who thought they’d be a good writing team, the two fell in love over the course of making the album.
“I thought working with Chad was a good idea because I thought it’d be a cool experience to write with another performer,” Lavigne says. “He knows what it’s like to have to sell a song in front of a big crowd. He’s a guitar guy. He’s a rock star. He goes through what I go through. We’re both Canadian. To put two people in a room who have the exact same life made sense. We met for the first time in the studio. We bonded over music. In the studio it was Chad, myself, and Dave Hodges. We called ourselves The Tripod. That’s really how this record began. I had just finished a world tour and my job was to go to the studio every day with these guys. We’d wear top hats and smoke cigarettes and order pizza and lay on the floor and write a song every day, just laughing our asses off. I thought Chad was the funniest person ever. It just grew from there.”
With a new husband, a new album, and yet another world tour approaching in 2014, Lavigne is thoughtful about her success, which she attributes to staying true to who she is. When asked what she would say to her 17-year-old self just getting started in the music business, she replies: “I would say just be yourself. Do what you want to do and don’t let anyone change you. Know who you are as an artist and where you want to go stylistically and stick to your guns. Fight for who you are.”