Avril Lavigne is all grown up. Can you handle that?

Allison Stewart, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Avril Lavigne has been famous for half her life, a fact that doesn't strike her as strange, because she doesn't know anything different. She got famous the usual way, but quicker: As a kid in Napanee, Ontario, she sang anywhere she could -- local fairs, karaoke, even onstage with Shania Twain after winning a contest. She signed a seven-figure record deal while still in her teens, sold 40 million albums thanks to era-defining hits like "Complicated" and "Sk8r Boi," and settled into an extended run as a very specific kind of pop star: Britney Spears' would-be younger sister, who skateboarded and shopped at Hot Topic and was sexually unimposing.

The past five years have been difficult: Lavigne divorced Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger after two years of marriage. She announced that she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease; for two years, she could barely get out of bed. She hadn't made an album since "Avril Lavigne" in 2013, and worried that she would be unable to sing again.

In February, Lavigne released "Head Above Water," an unsparing and entirely grown-up comeback record. She also returned to the road after a five-year absence.

In a phone interview, a cheery Lavigne discussed early celebrity, toxic relationships, and working with Kroeger, who assisted on her new album. The following are excerpts from that conversation:

On the old George Clooney theory that celebrities never mature much past the age they were when they first became famous

I was young, but at a good age, where I had a whole normal childhood. I left home just when I turned 16. I grew up in a normal town. Normal family, normal household, went to school. I had all that, and then I left. Yeah, I dropped out of high school, I didn't have prom, but I also didn't care, I had this once in a lifetime opportunity to have a record deal. When I made my first album I was thinking, "This better work, or I'm so screwed."


What her Plan B might have looked like

Now in life, I cut hair, I design clothes, I'm really good at doing makeup. I would have ended up being something cool, like a makeup artist or a hairstylist or a clothing designer or a painter or a chef.

Even during her off years, she couldn't escape her celebrity. Which was fine.

People recognize me anytime I ever go out, but that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. It's a question of, are you in the headspace (to be recognized)? Sometimes I'm more of an introvert and I'm quiet, and I don't go to really public places.


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