With the help of a friend of the family, Lindsay Thomas Morgan, who was in the music business, Alanis released her first ever single at the young age of eleven. The song was called “Fate Stay With Me“, and it was independently produced with money coming out of her own pocket. The song was not a hit by any means, but it got some air play on Canadian radio stations. She was advised to go just by her first name to not cause any name confusion with Alannah Myles, another Canadian singer who was popular at the time.
Over the next 10 months we tried and tried to get ALANIS a record deal. I used what connections I had, even hired Toronto entertainment lawyers Clark Miller and Paul Sanderson, and with their connections got A&R people from most of the major record labels to listen. Every one was very encouraging, BUT, the answer was always “No”. At the time, all I kept thinking was how can they not see the talent and potential in this little girl? Look at her pictures, listen to her singing, and listen to her writing. But later, in retrospect I understood their position. They just didn’t know how to market her. She was 12 by then, but she wasn’t writing “RAFFI” type children’s songs, so they couldn’t market her as a child. In an industry where music and sex appeal are often closely intertwined, she was still way too young to market as an adult. Even so, my, and ALANIS’ frustration grew month by month.
We decided to go ahead anyway, and release the song on a 45rpm single. Alanis and I came up with a record label name, LAMOR Records. The L stood for Lindsay the A for Alanis, and MOR is the start of Morgan and Morissette. Also it sounds like the French word for “love”, L’amour.
At age 13, Alanis met Leslie Howe (who did the group One-to-One), and they started writing together.
Eventually, she was signed to MCA, and she recorded her first album, “Alanis“, in 1990. Released in 1991, the music on this album is mostly pop and dance, along the lines of Paula Abdul. This recording proved to be a big hit in her homeland, as “Alanis” went platinum in Canada. She was labeled as a teenager pop/dance sensation,selling over 100,000 copies. Her success won her a JUNO Award (Canada’s version of the America’s Grammy) as the most promising new female vocalist.
With the fame gained through “Alanis”, school became a hard time for her:
“I had a bit of a double-life. I would do high school during the day and then go straight from my school to the studio. I would stay in the studio some nights until about two in the morning — it was my outside-of-school world. Then I would go back to school the next day.“
Seeking new development as a songwriter, Alanis moved to Toronto, where she participated in Songworks, a songwriting program organized by the publishing house Peer Music.
Her sophomore album “Now is the time“ was released by MCA in late 1992. “Now is the time” is also a pop album, but this recording as a whole seems to be more mature than her first album. It has more ballads and sounds less like a dance album. Not as successful as “Alanis”, “Now is the time” nevertheless went platinum in Canada. Like its predecessor, it was a success in Canada, even if it sold half of what “Alanis” did. Despite being relatively well-known in Canada, Alanis was a virtual stranger in the United States. Her biggest gigs so far were singing the national anthem at the first Ottawa Senator’s game and singing her song “Too Hot” on the 1992 NHL Awards.
Though her early albums were greeted with much success, Alanis was not happy with this.
“Back then I was a lot more worried about people’s perceptions of me. I wanted approval, so I came across as happy. But really, I was quite insecure and not as prepared to share as much of myself with people as I am now“
In 1994 she briefly returned to television and Ottawa to host the CBC-TV program Music Works. The show, which presented alternative rock musicians and its host in an unplugged, untraditional setting, exposed her to new artistic development.
However, this album — another collection of teeny bop dance tunes — sold only half as well as her debut, and at age 17 it looked as if Morissette’s career was on the wane. After high school, at age nineteen, Alanis moved to Los Angeles. She was determined to make it as an international singer, but her own, mature terms. This time she wanted her songs to be as true to her personality and emotions as possible. After many futile attempts, Alanis got the big break she was looking for. A tape was passed to a new record company by the mixer Jimmy Boyelle: it was the then upstart Maverick Records, a label created by Madonna, and she signed with it.