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Profile of Mary J. Blige, Alanis Morissette

Aired March 12, 2005 - 17:00   ET


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS begins in a moment. But first, an update on the capture of Brian Nichols. He's in Federal custody, a day after police say he shot and killed three people at an Atlanta courthouse including a judge. Nichols is also the suspect in the killing of a fourth person. Police captured him today without incident at an apartment complex just north of the city.

CHIEF CHARLES WALTERS, GWINNETT COUNTY POLICE: The woman who said that Mr. Nichols was in fact in his apartment and had held her captive for a certain amount of time. She was able to get out of the apartment and call us. We activated our SWAT team and uniform people and the SWAT folks.


BAKHTIAR: Nichols was fingerprinted and booked at an FBI field office earlier today. He is now at an undisclosed detention facility. Now you're looking at live pictures right now that is Nichols who just came out with the handcuffs and shackles. He's being transported to, I guess, another undisclosed location. They have been talking about all day very concerned over his security because of the murders that he has committed. And, of course, again we're looking at live pictures right now of him being taken to an undisclosed location.

Let's give you a little timeline and let's start from yesterday at 9:00 a.m. Nichols was on his way to the courthouse for a rape trial. On his way there, he assaults the female sheriff's deputy who was taking them. He takes her gun. He shoots her. She is now in critical condition and is said to be -- will survive this incident, but he then takes her gun, goes to the courtroom, shoots the superior court Judge Rowland Barnes, also a court reporter Julie Ann Brandau, then runs out of the courthouse. He's being chased by Hoyt Teasley. He's a sheriff's deputy sergeant who sees Nichols fleeing the scene, chases him. Nichols fires on him, kills him as well.

Then there's an issue about what he does later. He supposedly goes to the garage outside of the courthouse looking for some sort of transportation. There he runs into "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reporter Don O'Briant. He gets Don's car keys. He asks Don to get in, points a gun at him, tells him to get in the car. Don says no. Then he pistol whips him and takes off in the green Accord. That tells everyone that he must be somewhere in a green Accord. The manhunt begins for a green Accord. Unbeknownst to everyone, several moments later he ditches that green Accord in that same facility and flees that scene. Again, somewhere along the line there, he is said to have had at 10:40 p.m. sometime approached two people, assaulted them, wanting money and transportation from them. Then we know that he goes to 926 Cantor Road where he allegedly shoots an immigrations custom agent, steals his car, his ID and his gun and then kills him. That customs agent's body is found at 6:37 a.m. at his home there in Buckhead. Again, massive search for Nichols continues until at around 9:50 a.m. today, a lady calls in to the police to 911 and says, listen I know who you are looking for. He's in my apartment in Gwinnett County. And police then send out SWAT teams. They surround the area. Nichols eventually comes out waving a white flag and he's apprehended, a busy, some 26 hours of chasing Nichols. He is now being charged with the murder of four different individuals. You can see right now they are transporting him to an undisclosed location.

Earlier there was a press conference by several of the various people involved in this manhunt, all praising the collaboration of all of the various departments including the FBI and various police agencies SWAT teams on being able to apprehend the suspect. He evidently peacefully came out of this woman's apartment waving a white flag and surrendering to police. Again, a long day for everyone here in Atlanta. It started yesterday. Everyone on edge as this man was on the loose, having murdered already three people and then hearing again today that he murdered yet another person. It's been a developing story, thankfully, he, Brian Nichols is in custody and is being taken to an undisclosed location.

We're going to have more on this breaking story for you. Let's see. The U.S. district attorney earlier today had a press conference and said that he is determined to bring the murder of these four people to justice. He said that Nichols so far has been charged with possession of a firearm by a person under indictment. Essentially, this is something they're charging him with. It's just a holding charge until they can decide what kind of charges will be filed against him. They're anticipating both Federal and state charges.

Now, Paul Howard, the Fulton County district attorney also came out in the presser and said from this point forward, the focus will be in the early part of next week to resolve the trial that Nichols was already on his way to. This was a rape trial. He was with being tried for rape. This was the second rape trial that he was being tried for. And of course, before that could get under way, all hell broke loose in the courthouse, several people being killed there and then another one this afternoon -- this morning -- early this morning.

Again, it's been a massive manhunt, said to be one of the biggest in Georgia's history, lasting, oh, some 26, 27 hours. Chief Richard Pennington earlier on, the Atlanta police department, coming out thanking law enforcement for their coordinated effort and talking about various aspects of the case and also talking about the fact that the lady who dialed in 911 at 9:50 was very calm and behaved very heroically, basically. Evidently she was on her way to the apartment, into her own house, had gone to buy a pack of cigarettes, is on her way into her own apartment, when she is accosted or actually targeted by Nichols who comes into the apartment with her and then somehow talks her into coming outside with him to take the car that he had stolen from earlier and hide that car.

So he convinces her to get in a car, follow him with her car, dump the other car a few blocks down, then he gets back into her car, comes back to her apartment and somehow -- we don't know the details yet -- but lets this woman go, either lets her go or she talks him into letting her go. We really don't know the details yet. But she manages to get out and call 911 and let them know where he is. Not sure why at this point after allegedly killing four other people Nichols decides to surrender, but he waves some white material, puts his hands up, comes out. It is a peaceful surrender. No gunshots were fired. They take him to several places. And first they book him at the -- they take him to the Gwinnett County police department. He's held there.

Then they take him to the FBI field office in Atlanta where he was processed. And then they, after that, take him to an undisclosed location and -- and are basically trying to keep him safe. And we don't know too much about his family. We know his parents are outside of the country. We know he has two children.

And interesting because Kathleen Koch was in the area where he grew up in Maryland, in Baltimore, Maryland. And she was talking to friends and family there. And basically everyone there, which is what's so surprising in this case, was surprised at this behavior from this man. Everyone had nothing but good things to say about him, how he was a stand-up guy, how he was an athlete, how he was a calm person. He was a good person, and everyone very, very surprised at the fact that he is the alleged murderer in these series of murders happening since yesterday all the way through today.

Again, Nichols on his way to the courthouse for a rape trial. There assaults a female sheriff deputy, takes her gun, shoots her. She is now in critical condition. Then he runs to the courtroom and shoots the superior court Judge Rowland Barnes dead, the man who is in charge of his case. Also court reporter Julie Ann Brandau is shot and killed. He flees the courthouse. After he flees the courthouse, Hoyt Teasley a sheriff's deputy sergeant tries to follow him and get him, but he is shot dead in the process.

And then what we know is that Nichols goes to a parking lot right outside the courthouse, there he confronts the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution" reporter Don O'Briant, pistol whips him, takes off in his green Accord, but only goes to a different level, realizes that he can't really get out of that parking lot probably because you either need money or you need some sort of card letting you out of that garage, realizes that he can't and chucks that.

We also have video of him in the stairwell of that parking lot very calm, very collected, trying to decide where he's going to go next. And from there, evidently, he heads to -- he heads in the direction of the Lennox Mall. He at some point accosts two other people at around 10:40 p.m. yesterday. Then he goes to 926 Cantor Road, not really sure at what time but at 6:30, 7:00 a.m. this morning at that place, an immigration customs agent is shot and killed in that house. His car, his ID, his gun are stolen and evidently it is with that car that Nichols then heads to Gwinnett County and Bridgewater apartments and, of course you know the story from there.

Again, we have to remind you that this is Nichols that we're watching, Brian Nichols. He's the alleged shooter in these four deaths and we've been following this intense, dramatic story for you for the past couple of days. Live wall-to-wall coverage. Of course, we'll be bringing you more as we get it. Let's take a break and let's go to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


EMIL WILBEKIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, VIBE VENTURES: We love Mary J. Blige because she is very much a mirror to most of our lives. And I think that when you listen to her music and when you see her perform, a lot of us see ourselves within her life.

SWAY CALLOWAY, CORRESPONDENT, MTV NEWS: Just like I see on the big screen and these hot videos. I saw her in concert. She has that many similarities with us? That's right. She came from where we came from.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR, PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: By 1988, 17-year-old Mary J. Blige faced a bleak future. Living within the gritty confines of her Yonkers, New York housing project, the future queen of hip-hop soul was a drug using high school dropout. But Blige's life was about to change. In Manhattan, Uptown records was listening intently to Mary's soulful demo. On it her simple version of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the rapture," sentiments hardly shared by the teen when CEO Andre Farrell (ph) came knocking on her door.

MARY J. BLIGE, SINGER: When all this was going on, I was thinking like I normally think, like I don't care. My attitude back then was, whatever. This is not really going to happen. I don't really know what's going on. All I know is I'm singing for a bunch of people that say they going to do something for me.

ZAHN: But one of those people just happened to be Farrell's protege, an 18-year-old bad boy in the making.

TOURE: And she met Puffy. And everything changed.

CALLOWAY: Puffy was so ambitious and edgy and ahead of his time in terms of marketing and music. I mean he was from the streets and was fresh out of college and he had all these ideas.

ZAHN: In July 1992, Blige's ghetto fabulous debut, "What's the 411" hit the shelves.

TOURE: This was a complete revolution. "Real Love" was like, whoa, what was that? That's something different than everything else on the radio.

CALLOWAY: That song with the hip-hop beat underneath it just brought a whole new meaning to R&B.

ZAHN: Spawning four top ten singles, it also ignited a royal idea.

BLIGE: The title "queen of hip-honor soul" came from Puffy putting it all over t-shirts. I never knew I was the queen back then. I just thought I was Mary J. Blige.

ZAHN: That's because the fresh-faced queen was hardly living a regal life.

BLIGE: "You Remind Me" was on a radio. The second single came out, and we were still living in the projects.

WILBEKIN: I've heard her tell the story she and her sister about how they'd be walking through the streets, through the projects and hear Mary's music on the radio. So it's kind of really quickly that she went from regular around the way girl in the hood to R&B ghetto celeb on the radio.

ZAHN: Three million albums later, Blige was a bona fide hip-hop superstar, but as record sales mounted, so did Mary's demons, drugs, alcohol and a rocky relationship with K.C. Haley of the group (INAUDIBLE) followed.

CALLOWAY: Mary was raw, rugged, uncut and uncensored.

BLIGE: I'm still in the ghetto. Like I'm still mad, I'm still angry and I have things to be happy about. I didn't know what I had. When I got to the "My Life" album I just showed everybody just how miserable I was.

ZAHN: In November 1994, Mary J. released her second album "My Life." The self-penned single "Be Happy" became the album's biggest smash. Mary was anything but.

BLIGE: I think my life was the absolute worst for me. The "My Life" album was rock bottom. My head was in the hood continuously and that's a prison. That's a prison in itself.

KENDU ISAACS, HUSBAND: What I believe was going through Mary's mind at the time was a lot of confusion during the "My Life" album, a lot of confusion and a call for help with no one to call. So she put it down on paper.

ZAHN: The SOS was in part marked by a painful and sudden departure. Just prior to "My Life's" release, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs left Uptown to start his own label. Mary remained behind.

CALLOWAY: When Puffy left, it was like, man that's just like my father leaving, any other man. It happens constantly.

BLIGE: So that hurt. And what hurt more than anything is when he found someone to take my place.

CALLOWAY: Puffy also at that time signed Faith Evans. And she felt like Faith had a lot of similarities to her. And she being the queen of hip-hop soul couldn't have that competition.

ZAHN: During "My Life" promotion, Blige's substance abuse escalated.

The (INAUDIBLE) that I probably was really messed up on was the red scully cover and the Apollo shot. I was not with you. I was on the moon.

ZAHN: Adding to the mix, an increasingly erratic reputation with the media.

BLIGE: Mary J. Blige and the press didn't get long back then.

TOURE: The week before I interviewed her, Puffy called me. He's like don't ask her lots of tough questions. I'm like, yeah, whatever.

BLIGE: It was probably some kind of problem with someone that maybe asked a question that maybe seemed stupid to me in my world.

TOURE: So we're riding in the car to the projects where she grew up and I'm like so is it hard to sing over beats and over melodies? And she says, that's a stupid question and just completely ignores me for the whole day. And at the end of the day she pulls all her friends in the limo. They get drunk in the limo and then when I get back in, she curses me out for God knows what reason. She's like be silent the whole rest of the ride home. We drive back to Manhattan for an hour in silence. It was the most humiliating thing ever.

ZAHN: But Blige's rough ways only bolstered record sales. "My Life" quickly went triple platinum. Her first Grammy followed in 1995.

CALLOWAY: For her she probably saw it as a dark point, but for a lot of us fans, hell, man, there she goes, being honest again. Nobody does it like Mary and she's still winning.

ZAHN: Coming up, Mary J.'s new love and life, the queen of hip- hop soul on drama, drugs and the ultimatum that changed her life.

BLIGE: I was at a crossroads. I was at love yourself and live on or hate yourself and die.


ZAHN: By 1994, the queen of hip hop soul was once again seated regally at the top of the charts, thanks to soulful melodies like "You Bring Me Joy," Blige's "My Life" was stirring the masses, just as its diva was spinning out of control.

CALLOWAY: She had a reputation for being coked out, for drinking, partying hard, you know, being a mouth.

BLIGE: I'm just flowing. I'm just flowing. I do my thing. I mind my business and I have my fun.

ZAHN: With the 1993 exit of Svengali-like Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, Blige's woes continued to escalate.

BLIGE: I just didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what was going on with my contract to the point where my -- the managers that were managing me when I was first beginning came back and sued me for a million dollars because of the contract and they won.

TOURE: What Mary does is she gives you who she is. So if she's at her lowest moment, she's going to be able to create her greatest art.

ZAHN: She did just that in April 1997. "Share My World" became her first billboard number one. Two years later, the self-titled "Mary" was released. "All That I Can Say" became an MTV staple, but 3 million albums later, the queen of hip-hop soul continued to self- destruct.

BLIGE: I was going from one bad relationship to the next, bad relationship and the relationships were getting worse, boyfriends that were literally from hell. I was at love yourself and live on or hate yourself and die. And he came just in time.

ZAHN: His name was Kendu Isaacs, a 31-year-old up-and-coming record producer. They met in April 2000. The attraction was immediate.

ISAACS: The spark happened when we first met where she walked into the studio. From that moment on, it was like, "wow, she's dope."

BLIGE: He didn't come with "you're so beautiful." He came with, "what are you doing? Do you know who you are?" Everyone was saying they loved me. And nobody showed me that because the ulcer in my stomach and the alcohol that was going in me on top of the ulcer proved that. And he came with, "that's not your friend. That's not your friend."

ZAHN: But cleaning house didn't end Blige's wicked ways, 12 months later, a relationship on the brink.

ISAACS: She was doing this partying thing on a consistent basis, and I made up a decision in my mind that if she's going to keep doing that, I'm out.

BLIGE: He was so done with me coming home drunk, really nice guy. Any other guy would have killed me for real at that point.

ISAACS: And before I can give her that ultimatum, she came home already washing it, like, "I'm done with it."

BLIGE: I said, "I will not lose this one."

ZAHN: And she didn't. Considering the past, Blige would now take hold of the future and in August 2001, a blockbuster of a recording, a scorching proclamation, an answer to his ultimatum. "No More Drama."

WILBEKIN: And that song became an anthem to the world, don't let anyone abuse you. Don't let anybody hurt you.

BLIGE: The way I sang the record let people know that she wants to be free. ZAHN: And on August 26, 2003, a brand new Mary J. hit the streets. Her latest "Love and Life" was not only the superstar's drama-free debut, the disc was also one of the biggest reunions in hip-hop history.

CALLOWAY: The idea of Puffy and Mary coming back together, I think people were excited about what's going to come out of it?

ZAHN: A million albums later, the magic is still there. And that seismic split a decade ago? All but forgotten. Well, sort of.

BLIGE: I feel that when we got back together, that I had arrived on the spiritual side of forgiveness and understanding although there's still some of that stuff left there from the past. So it got a little rocky here and there.

SEAN COMBS: We're mixing the record.

BLIGE: Wait a minute.

Puff and I's relationship, we were definitely brother and sister.

COMBS: That's what I can understand. I can understand the bass -- the thing I can't understand, is you yelling at me.

BLIGE: I'm sorry.

COMBS: Understand the bass.

WILBEKIN: "Love and Life" represents where Mary is right now. She doesn't drink. She doesn't do drugs. She's in love with her man.

ZAHN: And on December 7th 2003, Mary J. Blige became Mrs. Kendu Isaacs. After three years together, the couple married in a quiet ceremony at their New Jersey home.

BLIGE: He's the first man that's recognized not just the physical of Mary, but the spiritual, the person Mary really is.

ISAACS: How does that make me feel? It makes me feel great. I feel like I've done something. That's a beautiful thing. She deserves it. Look how beautiful she is. If anybody needs to know it, she does.

ZAHN: At 34 years old, Mary J. Blige has finally discovered what for so long her music has preached, the power of love, real love. For the queen of hip-hop soul, the drama has ended and now the journey begins.

BLIGE: I don't feel like I'm trying to make up for lost time. I feel like I'm trying to, you know, just do what I know is right. To keep the life that I do have, the time that's lost is lost. I can't do anything about it. I just want the future to be better.

ZAHN: In addition to working on her own new album, Blige is lending her voice to the latest from actor/singer Will Smith, his first record in three years.


ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette is no stranger to controversy, to explicit lyrics, to speaking her mind, but rock's angry young woman isn't quite as angry as she used to be. She's recently gotten engaged and she's also become a U.S. citizen. Indeed, these days she's showing a mellower side to an artist famous for angst and heartbreak. Here's Kyra Phillips.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When she exploded on the music scene in 1995, Alanis Morissette was dubbed a prophet.

PHILLIPS: The voice of a generation. Her "Jagged Little Pill" anything but hard to swallow.

GUY OSEARY, CEO, MAVERICK RECORDS: I didn't grow up on Carol King, but to me, this was mine. "Jagged Little Pill."

PHILLIPS: Generation X couldn't agree more, taking ownership in the blisteringly honest, sometimes X-rated album to the tune of 30 million sales. At the age of just 21, Alanis Morissette had the biggest selling female debut of all time.

ALANIS MORISSETTE, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Very overwhelming, very exciting, hugely defining. Literally every two seconds I was being given an opportunity to really define who I was and I wasn't entirely sure who I was. So therein lay some of the struggle during those years.

PHILLIPS: And now with her latest album "So-Called Chaos," a different side of Morissette emerges with a fresh perspective and a new look. It's a departure from the angry ballads of the past. She's more upbeat, more optimistic. But one thing hasn't changed, the singer's refusal to shy away from controversy.

MORISSETTE: At least we live in a land where we can still think about the human body as being beautiful. And we're not afraid of the female breast.

PHILLIPS: While hosting the 2004 Juneau awards in Canada, she bared all in an on-stage disrobe that revealed an anatomically correct body suit. Though she was not actually naked, the act was a satirical protest of the FCC's response to Janet Jackson's Super Bowl debacle. It's just the latest chapter in an introspective journey through self- reinvention, disappointment and brutal honesty. Alanis Nadine Morissette was born on June 1st, 1974, in Ottawa, Canada, three years after brother Chad and just 12 minutes after her twin, Wade.

MORISSETTE: I grew up in a very masculine environment. So I was around a lot of men. My brothers and their friends, just a lot of guys around.

PHILLIPS: Georgia and Alan Morissette were teachers, and raised the three children in a seemingly idyllic Canadian home. MORISSETTE: Somewhat patriarchal, very communicative. We didn't really watch television. We had to read half an hour a day and we were only allowed to watch half an hour's worth of television.

PHILLIPS: But movies were allowed. By 4, Alanis developed an obsession with the 1978 film, "Grease." Two years later, she took up the piano.

MORISSETTE: I started playing piano when I was 6 and I knew that I wanted to be involved in that form of expression, whether it was through music or acting or dancing, or painting or writing. You know, I was always writing all the time.

PHILLIPS: Opportunity came in the form of a local folk singer, Lindsay Morgan, a friend of the family who made a living making music.

MORISSETTE: And I used to peek my head in through the emergency exit door to just watch them, because obviously I wasn't allowed in.

LINDSAY MORGAN, FRIEND: So the twins stood there. And especially to this day I can still see Alanis standing there. I can see her eyes.

MORISSETTE: I thought, OK, so you can love what you do. This is exciting. So I just started writing and I didn't think it was unusual or odd at all.

PHILLIPS: Two years later, in 1984, an audio cassette, this audio cassette, landed in Morgan's mailbox. On the tape, the rough beginnings of a song.

MORGAN: There was a line that came out, "Fate Stay With Me." I remember thinking, this is not just a little girl singing words. There's something there. It was unstructured. It was like words after another. But it was there. I talked to Alanis and I said, "write some more."

PHILLIPS: Months later, Morgan was shocked by his protege's progress.

MORGAN: She came down with a book, this notebook and she hesitated. And she said, "you promise you won't laugh?" and I remember saying, "Alanis, I'm not going to laugh."

I remember sitting there, and I remember feeling the hair come up on the back of my neck and she just went right through the song. I knew right then that there was something incredible here.

PHILLIPS: Her first big break came in the spring of 1985. 10- year-old Alanis landed a role on the Canadian children's show "You Can't Do that on Television." Using money earned from the show, Alanis and 42-year-old Morgan formed a label. Her first single, a recorded mastered version of the song left in his mailbox.

MORISSETTE: I think we printed up 2,000 copies of it and pretty much gave all of them away. I think I sold three of them. PHILLIPS: Although this single received little air play, it did provide exposure. And at 13, Alanis took home the top prize at a local TV station talent search.

But finally, in 1988, fate stepped in. The single "Too Hot" debuted in the spring of 1991. Her debut album "Alanis" quickly went platinum. There were tours and sexy videos like "Feel Your Love." Coming up from pop tart to queen of angst. Alanis Morissette is radically transformed by a "Jagged Little Pill." it's an about-face that many people will question.

DAVID WILD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ROLLING STONE: Any time you sell that many records, you're going to have naysayers. And from the beginning there were people who thought she's a fraud.


PHILLIPS: With big hair, shoulder pads and hits like "Feel Your Love," by 1991 Alanis Morissette was Canada's queen of pop. But with that label came a nickname she despised.

PETER CASTRO, ASST. MANAGING EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: She would kill you if you ever compared her to Debbie Gibson.

WILD: I think she came out the other side of it wanting to be real, wanting to be herself, not some sort of Canadian Debbie Gibson.

PHILLIPS: Her second album, "Now Is the Time," hit the stores in October of 1992. Audiences were in for a surprise. With ballads like "No Apologies," the album was less glitz and much more thoughtful. The result -- a flop.

MORISSETTE: I knew that I wouldn't stop in terms of looking for someone to collaborate with until I felt like I was being myself whatever that was.

PHILLIPS: The wait wouldn't be long. In the winter of 1994, she headed to Los Angeles. There, she was introduced to producer Glen Ballard.

GLEN BALLARD: We were laughing and having a cup of tea within five minutes and then 10 minutes later, kind of diving into a creative no-man's land, really.

MORISSETTE: I thought wow, here's someone I can delve into some subject matters that may offend or trigger or bother some other collaborators. Glen was embracing it and he was saying, keep on, let's do it.

PHILLIPS: And with that creative pairing, barriers collapsed. Hidden anger and frustration from the past poured out, and the music flowed freely.

MORISSETTE: It took a minute or two for me to come out of my shell. And then once I did, I thought, OK, this is who I am. BALLARD: We were in the middle of writing another song and for whatever reason I think we got bored or frustrated with a particular passage and I just went to (INAUDIBLE) and then dissolved it. And she said -- sometimes then I went up to an F sharp minor nine.

MORISSETTE: There's a part of me that was, like, I'm sick of walking on eggshells and being -

BALLARD: And so she jumps the melody up a whole step there, which is really brilliant.

MORISSETTE: And you know, there's this inner conflict of, you know, wanting be a people-pleasing, perfect girl.

BALLARD: "Don't Forget to Win First Place." It was like, OK I don't know what's going on here, but this is great. She's coming up with it on the spot.

MORISSETTE: A part of me that just wanted to be authentic and raw. You know, not -- not lie.

BALLARD: And that whole overwhelming sense of childhood started pouring down on you, I think she had encapsulated it in four bars. So it was a beautiful moment.

PHILLIPS: In the coming weeks, the album seemed to write itself. Locking themselves into the studio, 12 songs emerged, in some cases, a song a day. And when "Jagged Little Pill" was released in June of 1995, it immediately caused a stir.

KEVIN SMITH, FRIEND: Anytime somebody mentions oral sex in a movie, your ears perk up and listen. No pun intended. Like, who is this? Who in the heck is this chick?

PHILLIPS: The song was "You Ought to Know," taken directly from Alanis' journal, a scathing ode to an ex-boyfriend.

MORISSETTE: I was worried about some of the subject matter in it and I remember Glen turning to me and saying, "is this how you feel?" and I said, "yes." And he said, "well, then don't change a damn thing."

PHILLIPS: But there were detractors, especially when her Canadian pop tart past was discovered by the press.

JOHN ALEXANDER, FMR A&R EXEC, MCA RECORDS CANADA: I was blindsided by someone from "The LA Times." He started asking questions like, how come those first two albums that you made aren't available anymore? And are you embarrassed by them?

WILD: People assumed that Glen Ballard had created this persona for her and created this music for her.

BALLARD: The idea that I did anything other than just empower what was already there ignores the fact that she's just an enormously talented singer, a gifted lyricist, powerful personality and a very spiritual and strong person.

PHILLIPS: Naysayers aside, there was no denying the momentum. Four Grammys later, "Jagged Little Pill" was on its way to selling 30 million copies, the biggest female artist debut of all time.

MORISSETTE: And it was so scary and so great, and I was humbled and blown away. It was just like catapulting into "who are you-ness," who are you in the face of this mayhem?

PHILLIPS: Coming up, after two years on the road, the enormity of "Jagged Little Pill" blindsides Alanis, forcing her to take a break.

WILD: The rest of the world around her is going crazy. People were expecting her to save a generation, and that was just not going to happen.


PHILLIPS: By the winter of 1996, the world, it seemed, had fallen head over feet for 22-year-old Alanis Morissette. The "Jagged Little Pill" tour had taken her around the world twice, and with 30 million albums sold, six top 40 hits and four Grammys, the Canadian transplant was being called the most successful new female artist in pop music history.

WILD: She sold 30 million records with a very intense, psychological, artful, non-pandering piece of work. That's really unprecedented.

PHILLIPS: But with newfound icon status bearing down upon her, pressure was building. Fame, it seemed, was not everything she thought it would be.

MORISSETTE: I didn't laugh for about two years. One has to almost experience it to be able to truly see that it doesn't offer what it's touted as being able to offer.

PHILLIPS: The wild ride had to stop. And as the "Jagged Little Pill" juggernaut approached its second year with no sign of slowing down, a decision was made. The tour would end. And on December 14, 1996, a visibly drained Alanis said good-bye to her fans, hugged her band mates and set off to find herself. In the coming months, friends and family were met by an altogether different Alanis, closed off and distant.

ALEXANDER: I think she started to maybe isolate herself a little bit from some of the people she was very close to. I could sense that something was amiss. Something was wrong.

PHILLIPS: Adding to the pressure, the industry was pushing for another album. Paralyzed by expectations, those closest to her say she nearly walked away.

MORGAN: We went to see her down in Los Angeles. I remember her saying "I thought of walking away from it many times." It's that brutal. PHILLIPS: With the help of yoga and eastern spirituality, Alanis turned inward, and following a life-altering trek to India in January of 1988, she began to write again. When she returned to Glen Ballard's studio months later, the angst was behind her and a peaceful Alanis Morissette walked in.

BALLARD: When she walked in the door that day, we went right to it and within an hour, there it was. It was the song that had the easiest time being created. And that certainly was, I think, a gift to me from her through India.

PHILLIPS: The album supposed former infatuation junkie was released on November 3rd, 1998, like "Jagged Little Pill" autobiographical but something was different. The anger was gone and fans didn't know what to think.

WILD: On "Jagged Little Pill" it was all about everybody in the world related to this record, particularly young women. On the second record, her experiences were things that no one else could relate to.

PHILLIPS: The 17-track album sold 10 million copies, just one- third of what "Jagged" had taken in.

CASTRO: Immediately they talked about the sophomore jinx, which was rubbish. I mean if anybody else had that album out at the time, they would have been deliriously happy.

PHILLIPS: By the spring of 2002, Alanis, the singer/songwriter, returned. This time, however, there was a hitch, no collaborations, no producers. Her third album was all her own and aptly titled, "Under Rug Swept."

WILD: A lot of people were I think expecting her to fall on her face and come up with something inferior. I think it's one of the best things she's ever done.

PHILLIPS: Rocketing to number one the first week in release, its debut single, "Hands Clean," immediately sparked controversy.

CASTRO: At age 14 she started dating a much older man who she hasn't named and it bothered her for years. It's really a no-holds barred song. The lyrics are pretty intense and they're pretty incriminating.

MORISSETTE: It's a song about a relationship that I was not emotionally prepared to kind of deal with at the time. So I wanted to speak the truth about it without seeking revenge of any sort but seeking the liberation that comes from my speaking the truth.

PHILLIPS: And in 2004 after a two-year hiatus, Alanis Morissette returned with her fifth album "So-Called Chaos." With upbeat songs like "Everything," the CD marks the latest stage of Morissette's continuing evolution as a musician and a person. She has moved beyond being the restless and explosive lyricist that made her famous, to become a cooler, more confident voice. For Alanis Morissette, it's a journey that's far from over. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alanis has a lot to say. Her voice is clearly one of the great instruments for expressing just about anything that she may be thinking about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a woman who has a story she wants to tell. And I think she'll spend a lifetime telling the story.

MORISSETTE: I'll be writing songs until I die. There's just no question.

ZAHN: Alanis Morissette is set to record a new acoustic version of her groundbreaking album "Jagged Little Pill" celebrating the record's tenth anniversary. The album is due out on June 13.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us and hope you'll be back with us again next week.


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