Avril Ramona Lavigne was born in Belleville, Ontario. Her father, Jean-Claude Lavigne, named her “Avril” after the French word for the month of April. At the age of two, she began singing church songs along with her mother, Judith-Rosanne “Judy” (née Loshaw). Judy recognized her two year old daughter’s talents after hearing her sing “Jesus Loves Me” in church. Lavigne has an older brother, Matthew, and a younger sister, Michelle, both of whom teased her when she sang. “My brother used to knock on the wall because I used to sing myself to sleep and he thought it was really annoying.”
When Lavigne was five years old, the family moved to Napanee, Ontario, a town with an approximate population of 5,000. Although she struggled with paying attention in school, sometimes getting kicked out of class for misbehaving, her parents were supportive of her singing. Her father bought her a microphone, a drum kit, a keyboard, several guitars, and converted their basement into a studio. When Lavigne was 14, her parents would take her to karaoke sessions. Lavigne also performed at country fairs, singing songs by Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks, and Shania Twain. She also began writing her own songs. Her first song was called “Can’t Stop Thinking About You”, about a teenage crush, which she described as “cheesy cute”.
|“||I’ve known all my life that this is what I was supposed to do…. Visualizing like what it would be like to be famous with my music. And always just dreaming, always daydreaming.||”|
|—Avril Lavigne, NBC News|
In 1999, Lavigne won a radio contest to perform with fellow Canadian singer Shania Twain at the Corel Centre (now Scotiabank Place) in Ottawa, before an audience of 20,000 people. Twain and Lavigne sang “What Made You Say That“, and Lavigne told Twain she was going to be “a famous singer”. During a performance with the Lennox Community Theatre, Lavigne was spotted by local folk singer Stephen Medd. He invited her to contribute vocals on his song, “Touch the Sky”, for his 1999 album, Quinte Spirit. She later sang on “Temple of Life” and “Two Rivers” for his follow-up album, My Window to You, in 2000. In December 1999, Lavigne was discovered by her first professional manager, Cliff Fabri, while singing country covers at a Chapters bookstore in Kingston, Ontario. Fabri sent out VHS tapes of Lavigne’s home performances to several industry prospects, and Lavigne was visited by several executives. Mark Jowett, co-founder of the Canadian management firm Nettwerk, received a copy of Lavigne’s karaoke performances recorded in her parents’ basement, and arranged for Lavigne to work with Peter Zizzo in New York during the summer of 2000, where she wrote the song “Why?”. It was on a subsequent trip to New York that Lavigne was noticed by Arista Records.
Lavigne would go on to sell more than 30 million copies of her albums worldwide, becoming one of the top-selling artists releasing albums in the U.S., with over 10.25 million copies certified by the RIAA. In 2009, Billboard named Lavigne the No. 10 pop artist in the “Best of the 2000s” chart, and she was listed as the 28th overall best act of the decade based on album sales, chart success, and cultural relativity in the U.S.