Feature excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
"I'm starting to make a big name for myself," exclaims Canadian skater-punk princess Avril Lavigne with wonderment. Indeed, with the artist's multi-format Arista single "Complicated" making inroads at top-40 radio, as well as on MTV and MuchMusic, the 17-year-old has arrived.
Her punky-pop set "Let Go" was issued June 4 worldwide by Arista and debuts at No. 8 on The Billboard 200 this week. "She's a great singer and songwriter," says Antonio "L.A." Reid, president/CEO of Arista. "She has a relevancy to people her age. She has a point of view kids can identify with."
Reid agrees that Lavigne will initially attract Britney Spears' 14-25-year-old followers, but he adds, "Britney's like a fantasy; every [teenage] girl wants to be like her. With Avril, there are so many girls who are actually her."
From Napanee, Ontario, Lavigne has been performing since she was 10, singing in church choirs and at country fairs. At 14, she recorded with local folksinger Steve Medd on his indie sets "Quinte Spirit" (1999) and "My Window to You" (2000).
Shortly after her 16th birthday, Lavigne dropped out of school and moved to New York with her older brother Matt to work on her album. "Getting signed to a major label is a once in a lifetime opportunity," she says. "I can always go back to school if [my career] doesn't work out."
Despite working with several top producers and writers in New York, Lavigne was unhappy with the results. Last summer, the singer went to Los Angeles and connected with producer/songwriter Clif Magness and production team Matrix (Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards, Scott Spock). The result: centerpiece songs "Skater Boy," "Losing Grip," "Unwanted," and "I'm With You."
"Basically, how the album turned out was my vision," says Lavigne. "I wrote about what I was going through at the time."
Excerpted from the June 22, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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