Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Avril Lavigne has sold more 35 million records worldwide. Her songs “Complicated” and “Girlfriend” rank among Billboard’s Hot 100 singles of the decade. Raised two hours east of Toronto, Canada, she signed a music deal at 17, and recently launched the Avril Lavigne Foundation R.O.C.K.S. to promote Respect, Opportunity, Choices, Knowledge, and Strength in young people with serious illnesses or disabilities. ABILITY’s Lia Martirosyan caught up with her recently.
Lia Martirosyan: What motivated you to start a foundation?
Avril Lavigne: Since the beginning of my career, the Make-A-Wish Foundation would tell me there were people who wanted to meet me, so I would go to hospitals and see people who were sick or had a disability. It was very moving, and made me want to start my own foundation. I launched it in 2010. Every year, for my birthday, we have a fundraising campaign. And last year, for my 30th, we raised money for 30 athletes to go to Special Olympics (SO).
Martirosyan: That’s exciting.
Lavigne: It is. I’ve done programs where I’ve partnered with Easter Seals and sent a bunch of kids to camp. When I visited them, they were so happy that I thought, “Oh, my God, I have to get involved!” Our latest, greatest partnership is with SO, because we share a similar mission. I wrote the inspirational song, “Fly,” a couple of years ago for my foundation; it’s about lifting people up, and telling them not to give up, no matter how hard things get. On iTunes, all the proceeds from it now go to SO. I also shot a video for it, and the athletes are the stars. We’re in talks about me doing a performance at the SO World Games in Los Angeles.