Avril Ramona Lavigne was born in Belleville, Ontario, the daughter of a working-class family. Her father, Jean-Claude Lavigne, who is of French Canadian descent, named her Avril after the French word for the month of April. At the age of two, Lavigne 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 Lavigne 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 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". In 1998, 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.
Only a month after completing The Best Damn Tour, Lavigne began recording in her home studio in November 2008 with the song "Black Star", written to help promote her first fragrance of the same name. By July 2009, nine tracks had been recorded for the new album, including the songs "Fine", "Everybody Hurts" and "Darlin". Several of the tracks were written in Lavigne's youth. "Darlin" was the second song Lavigne wrote as a 15-year-old while living in Napanee, Ontario. Lavigne described the album as being about "life". She stated, "It's so easy for me to do a boy-bashing pop song, but to sit down and write honestly about something that's really close to me, something I've been through, it's a totally different thing." The album is expected to be a return to Lavigne's older musical style and may be largely acoustic. With the exception of the album's lead single, "What the Hell", Lavigne described the songs on the album as different from her earlier material: "I'm older now, so I think that comes across in my music, it's not as pop-rock". In January 2010, while simultaneously writing and recording for her new album, Lavigne worked with Disney on Alice in Wonderland-themed clothing designs, inspired by Tim Burton's feature film, Alice in Wonderland. She asked the executives if she could write a song for the film. The result was the song "Alice", which was played over the end credits and included on the soundtrack, Almost Alice. The release dates for Goodbye Lullaby and its lead single were pushed back several times. In response to these delays, Lavigne said, "I write my own music and, therefore, it takes me longer to put out records 'cause I have to live my life to get inspiration," and that she had enough material for two records. In November, Lavigne was featured in Maxim, where she revealed that Goodbye Lullaby took two and a half years to complete, but she cited her record company as the reason for the album's delays, stating that the album had been completed for a year. Goodbye Lullaby is scheduled to be released on 8 March. The lead single, "What the Hell", premiered on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on 31 December.
Lavigne has an alto vocal range. Growing up, Lavigne listened to Blink-182, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty and Shania Twain, and her influences include Courtney Love and Janis Joplin. Because of these influences, musical genres, and her personal style, the media frequently defined her as punk, something she denied being. Lavigne’s close friend and guitarist, Evan Taubenfeld, said, "It's a very touchy subject to a lot of people, but the point is that Avril isn't punk, but she never really pretended to claim to come from that scene. She had pop punk music and the media ended up doing the rest". Lavigne also commented on the matter: "I have been labeled like I'm this angry girl, [a] rebel... punk, and I am so not any of them." While Lavigne denied being angry, her interviews were still passionate about the media's lack of respect for her songwriting. "I am a writer, and I won't accept people trying to take that away from me", adding that she'd been writing "full-structured songs" since she was 14. Despite this, Lavigne’s songwriting has been questioned throughout her career. The songwriting trio, the Matrix, with whom Lavigne wrote songs for her debut album, claimed that they were the main songwriters of Lavigne’s singles, "Complicated", "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You". Lavigne denied this, asserting that she was the primary songwriter for every song on the album. "[N]one of those songs aren't from me". In 2007, Chantal Kreviazuk, who wrote with Lavigne on her second album, accused Lavigne of plagiarism and criticised her songwriting. "Avril doesn't really sit and write songs by herself or anything". Lavigne also disclaimed this, and considered taking legal action against Kreviazuk for "clear defamation" against her character. Kreviazuk later apologised: "Avril is an accomplished songwriter and it has been my privilege to work with her". Shortly thereafter, Tommy Dunbar, founder of the 1970s band, the Rubinoos, sued Lavigne, her publishing company, and Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald for allegedly stealing parts of "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" for her song "Girlfriend". Gottwald defended Lavigne, stating, "me and Avril wrote the song together…. It has the same chord progressions as ten different Blink-182 songs, the standard changes you'd find in a Sum 41 song. It's the Sex Pistols, not the Rubinoos." In January 2008, the lawsuit was closed after a confidential settlement had been reached.
Lavigne's feature film debut was voicing an animated character in the 2006 film Over the Hedge, based on the comic strip of the same name. She voiced the character Heather, a Virginia Opossum. The process of recording the characters' voices was devoid of interaction with other actors. In December 2005, Lavigne signed on to appear in Fast Food Nation, based on the book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. The fictionalized adaptation, directed by Richard Linklater, traces fast-food hamburgers contaminated with cow feces back to the slaughterhouses. Lavigne starred in her on-screen acting debut as a high school student intent on freeing the cows. The film opened on 17 November 2006 and remained in theaters for 11 weeks, grossing $2 million worldwide. Both Over the Hedge and Fast Food Nation opened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, which Lavigne attended. Lavigne felt honoured to be able to attend and was proud of her work. When asked if she would pursue her film career, she stated that she wanted to take her time and wait for the "right parts and the right movies." Lavigne was aware of the roles she had chosen. "I wanted to start off small and to learn I wouldn't just want to throw myself into a big part." In August 2006, Canadian Business magazine ranked her as the seventh top Canadian actor in Hollywood in their second-annual ranking Celebrity Power List. The results were determined by comparing salary, Internet hits, TV mentions, and press hits.
Lavigne and Deryck Whibley, lead singer and guitarist for punk band Sum 41, began dating when she was 19 years old, after being friends since she was 17. Only a few weeks before they met, Lavigne had publicly stated that she was having trouble meeting boys because her bodyguards scared them away. In June 2005, Whibley surprised Lavigne with a trip to Venice, including a gondola ride and a romantic picnic, and on 27 June, he proposed to her.The wedding was held on 15 July 2006. About 110 guests attended the wedding, which was held at a private estate in Montecito, California. Lavigne, wearing a gown designed by Vera Wang walked down the aisle with her father, Jean-Claude, to Mendelssohn's "Wedding March". Lavigne chose a colour theme of red and white, including red rose petals and centerpieces of distinctly coloured flowers. The wedding included cocktails for an hour before the reception and a sit-down dinner. The song "Iris", by the Goo Goo Dolls, was played during Lavigne and Whibley's first dance.Seven months into their marriage, Lavigne stated that she was "the best thing that's ever happened to him", and suggested that she helped Whibley stay off drugs since they'd begun dating. "He doesn't do drugs. Clearly, he used to, because he talked about it, but I wouldn't be with someone who did, and I made that very clear to him when we first started dating. I've never done cocaine in my life, and I'm proud of that. I am 100 percent against drugs."