If you asked Avril Lavigne in 2014 if she believed she would ever go back onstage after being diagnosed with Lyme disease, she might have hesitated to give you an honest answer. “I thought that music would be taken away from me,” she says during our phone interview. The Canadian pop-punk artist goes on to say she feels “so blessed to be on that stage, celebrating music and life. I’m ready to connect with the audience once again.”
To say that Lavigne’s audience is ready to connect with her again is an understatement. (The day before our interview, I casually tweeted that I had the opportunity to chat with Lavigne ahead of her Portland show—and multiple fan pages replied, asking me to tell Lavigne that they loved her and missed her.) Following its release on February 15, Lavigne’s new album, Head Above Water, debuted in the Top 10.