Kelly Brianne Clarkson
April 24, 1982
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
(m. 2013; div. 2021)
Kelly Brianne Clarkson (born April 24, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author, and television personality. She rose to fame for winning the first season of American Idol in 2002, which earned her a record deal with RCA. Her debut single, "A Moment Like This", topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and became the country's best selling single of 2002. It was included on her debut studio album, Thankful (2003), which debuted atop the Billboard 200. Trying to reinvent her image, Clarkson parted ways with Idol management and shifted to pop rock for her second studio album, Breakaway (2004). Supported by four US top-ten singles: "Breakaway", "Since U Been Gone", "Behind These Hazel Eyes", and "Because of You", Breakaway sold over 12 million copies worldwide and won two Grammy Awards.
Clarkson took further creative control for her third studio album, My December (2007), by co-writing all of its tracks and becoming its executive producer. However, her label was dissatisfied with the album's darker rock music and promoted it reluctantly. Clarkson's fourth and fifth studio albums, All I Ever Wanted (2009) and Stronger (2011), returned to a lighter tone and pop rock sound, with the former becoming her second US number-one album, and the latter making her the first artist to win the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album twice. Both albums spawned a Hot 100 number-one single as well: "My Life Would Suck Without You", which holds the record for the biggest jump to number one in the charts history, and "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)", which became her best-selling single worldwide. Clarkson then became the first American female artist to release the best-selling Christmas album of the year with Wrapped in Red (2013). Her seventh studio album, Piece by Piece (2015), debuted at number-one in the US, while its title track reached the top ten. After leaving RCA and signing with Atlantic in 2016, Clarkson released her soul-influenced eighth album, Meaning of Life (2017), which was promoted by her highest-grossing tour to date. She went on to release her ninth studio album and second Christmas album, When Christmas Comes Around... (2021).
Clarkson has sold over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. She has 11 top-ten singles in the US, and nine top-ten singles in the UK, Canada, and Australia. She became the first artist in history to top each of Billboard's pop, adult contemporary, adult pop, country, and dance charts. Clarkson has served as a coach on The Voice since its fourteenth season, and since 2019, has hosted her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show. Among her numerous accolades, Clarkson has received three MTV Video Music Awards, four American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, and three Daytime Emmy Awards. Billboard has hailed Clarkson as "one of pop music's greatest singers", and honored her with the Powerhouse Award for her vocals, while VH1 ranked her nineteenth on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music.
Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to Jeanne Ann (née Rose), a first grade English teacher, and Stephen Michael Clarkson, a former engineer. She is the youngest of three children, with a brother named Jason and a sister named Alyssa. Clarkson also has two younger half brothers from her father's second marriage. Her parents divorced when she was six years old, whereupon her brother went to live with their father, her sister went to live with an aunt, and she stayed with her mother. Clarkson's mother later remarried Jimmy Taylor. Clarkson is of English, Welsh, Irish and Greek descent. Her mother is a descendant of Republican state senator Isaiah Rose, whose life story was discussed on Clarkson's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? in 2013. Clarkson was raised Southern Baptist. She has said, "I always grew up in church. I was the leader of our youth group. I've always grown up pretty close to church and with God. But I think I've just gotten a lot closer just because He's the only one I can lean on." She later said of her upbringing, "My family was highly conservative; I had to go to church on Sunday and Wednesday."
Clarkson was educated at Pauline Hughes Middle School. In the seventh grade, the school's choir teacher, Cynthia Glenn, overheard her singing in a hallway and asked her to audition for the school choir. Clarkson told her she had never received any professional vocal training. Clarkson graduated from Burleson High School in 2000, where she performed in several musicals, such as Annie Get Your Gun, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Brigadoon. She sang at her high school talent show, after which an audience member shared some inspiring words with her: "God has given you this gift. You've got to sing. You're destined to sing." Clarkson continued singing and soon started classical training, hoping music would be her ticket to a college scholarship. Upon graduating from high school, Clarkson was offered full scholarships to the University of Texas at Austin, University of North Texas, and Berklee College of Music, but she declined them, explaining: "I've already written so much music and wanted to try a career on my own" adding, "you're never too old to go to college."
After graduation, Clarkson worked several jobs to finance a demo, recording material and trying to market it to record labels, but she received little response. Clarkson turned down two recording contracts from Jive Records and Interscope Records, saying, "They would have completely pigeonholed me as a bubblegum act. I was confident enough that something better would come along." In 2001, she traveled to Los Angeles, trying to pursue a career in music. She appeared as an extra in a few television series such as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Dharma & Greg and briefly worked with musician Gerry Goffin to record five demo tracks in an effort to secure a record deal. According to Clarkson, her early attempts to launch her music career floundered when she was turned down by almost every U.S. record label for sounding "too black". Lack of other career opportunities and a fire incident in her apartment forced Clarkson to return to Burleson, where she worked at a movie theater, promoted Red Bull energy drinks, worked as a telemarketer and as a cocktail waitress in a comedy club.
Upon returning to Burleson, Clarkson was encouraged by her friends to audition for the inaugural season of the reality television series American Idol: The Search for a Superstar in May 2002. Despite receiving a "golden ticket", a pass to the Hollywood rounds, in the series premiere, Clarkson made her first appearance during the second episode. In an interview in 2012, Clarkson referred to the inaugural season as "ghetto", explaining: "On our season we were like kids in camp. Nobody knew what to do. The show was ever changing every day. They did one season of Pop Idol in the UK, but America is a very different market. They dropped us off in a mall and said 'find some clothes to wear on national television'. I am maybe the closest to white trash you can get. What do I buy? White pants I guess? I definitely looked like a cocktail waitress." Clarkson went on to win the competition on September 4, 2002, at the Kodak Theatre (now Dolby), earning 58% of the votes against runner-up Justin Guarini.
Immediately after winning American Idol, Clarkson was signed to a record deal with RCA Records, 19 Recordings, and S Records by talent manager Simon Fuller, who created American Idol, and music mogul Clive Davis, who was slated to executive-produce her debut album. On September 17, 2002, her debut double-A-side single, "Before Your Love"/"A Moment Like This", was released. Both songs were performed by Clarkson during the season finale of American Idol. After debuting at number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the single climbed to number 52 the following week, and subsequently ascended to number one. It broke a 38-year-old record set by the British band The Beatles for the biggest leap to number one. It eventually went on to become the best-selling single of 2002 in the United States.
|American Idol season 1 performances and results|
|Week #||Theme||Song choice||Original artist||Order #||Result|
Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
|Top 121||Hollywood Round 1||"Respect"||Otis Redding|
|Top 65||Hollywood Round 2||"I Say a Little Prayer"||Dionne Warwick|
|Top 45||Hollywood Round 3||"Save the Best for Last"||Vanessa Williams|
|Top 30||Semifinal/Group 2||"Respect"||Otis Redding||9|
|Top 10||Motown||"You're All I Need to Get By"||Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell||8||Safe|
|Top 8||1960s||"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"||Aretha Franklin||5|
|Top 7||1970s||"Don't Play That Song (You Lied)"||Ben E. King|
|Top 6||Big Band||"Stuff Like That There"||Betty Hutton||6|
|Top 5||Burt Bacharach Love Songs||"Walk On By"||Dionne Warwick||1|
|"It's Raining Men"
|The Weather Girls
|Top 3||Idol's Choice
|Top 2||Finale||"A Moment Like This"
"Before Your Love"
Clarkson's debut album, Thankful, was released on April 15, 2003. The album contained aspects of pop, contemporary R&B, and gospel music, with several established musicians such as Rhett Lawrence, Diane Warren, The Underdogs, and Babyface contributing on to the tracks. Released during a time of urban-R&B dominance, the album was well received by several critics. AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the album for its vocal ability: "throughout this record, (Clarkson) makes it seem effortless and charming. She can croon, she can belt out a song, she can be sexy and sassy while still being graceful and as wholesome as the girl next door." Henry Goldblatt of Entertainment Weekly remarked: "Clarkson glides through octaves with the masterful control of someone who's been doing this for decades." Thankful was a commercial success, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and went on to sell over 4.5 million copies worldwide. It was later certified double platinum by the RIAA, platinum in Canada, and gold in Japan and Australia.
Its lead single, "Miss Independent", became her first international hit, reaching the top ten in five national charts, including the US. It was later certified gold by the RIAA. It earned Clarkson her first Grammy Award nomination for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" at the 46th Grammy Awards. It was followed with two moderately successful singles, "Low" and "The Trouble with Love Is"; the latter was used on the soundtrack of British romantic film Love Actually. Her first video album, Miss Independent, was released on November 18, 2003, and was certified gold by the RIAA. To support Thankful, Clarkson and Idol season two runner-up Clay Aiken co-headlined the 2004 Independent Tour throughout the US.
Clarkson made her film debut with Guarini with the release of the musical romantic comedy film From Justin to Kelly in June 2003. The film was poorly received by critics and was unsuccessful at the box office, with Clarkson explaining that she was "contractually obligated" to do the film and didn't like it. In 2002, Clarkson, along with American Idol judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson and hosts Brian Dunkleman and Ryan Seacrest, participated in the season premiere of the eighth season of the television comedy series MADtv. She also portrayed Brenda Lee in two episodes of the television drama American Dreams between 2003 and 2004. On December 25, 2003, Clarkson participated in the television special competition World Idol in London, along with the inaugural winners of the several Idol television series around the world. Clarkson was contractually obligated to participate, and she performed Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". She ended up as the runner-up with 97 points, behind the first Norwegian Idol Kurt Nilsen.
Trying to distance herself from her American Idol image, Clarkson decided to part ways with Fuller and 19 Management and hired the services of talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz of The Firm. She reinvented her musical direction by developing a more rock-oriented sound with her second studio album, Breakaway. Davis served as the executive producer for the record, while Clarkson co-wrote six of the tracks with pop and rock songwriters such as former Evanescence band members Ben Moody and David Hodges, Kara DioGuardi, Dr. Luke and Max Martin. Breakaway received critical acclaim, with Erlewine of AllMusic remarking: "What gives Breakaway its spine are the driving, anthemic pop tunes, numbers that sound simultaneously mainstream and youthful, which is a hard trick to pull off, and they are the tracks that illustrate Clarkson is a rare thing in the 2000s: a pop singer who's neither hip nor square, just solidly and enjoyably in the mainstream."
Breakaway was released on November 30, 2004, and became Clarkson's most commercially successful album. After debuting at number three on the Billboard 200, its longevity allowed it to become the third-best-selling album of 2005 in the US and was certified sextuple platinum by the RIAA. The album also enjoyed success throughout the world; it topped the charts in the Netherlands and Ireland, became the world's seventh-best-selling album of 2005 and went on to sell more than twelve million copies worldwide. Clarkson supported Breakaway with the Breakaway World Tour, which took place from 2005 to 2006.
Five singles were released to promote Breakaway. Its title track, "Breakaway", was originally released in July 2004, as the soundtrack for Disney film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and was later re-released as the album's fifth single in May 2006. It became Clarkson's third top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100 with a peak of number six. It was a major success on adult contemporary radio, topping the Billboard Adult Contemporary for 21 weeks and the Adult Contemporary Audience chart for 28 weeks (her longest number one on any charts). "Since U Been Gone" was released as the album's lead single in November 2004 and became Clarkson's most successful single on the Hot 100 despite peaking at number two. The second and third singles, "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "Because of You", also followed suit—peaking at number six and number seven on the Hot 100, respectively. "Because of You" became Clarkson's biggest single worldwide, reaching number one on the European Hot 100 Singles chart and the national charts in Brazil, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland. The fourth single, "Walk Away", peaked at number twelve on the Hot 100. According to Mediabase, Clarkson was the most-played artist of 2006 in the U.S.
Breakaway garnered Clarkson many accolades, including two trophies at the 48th Grammy Awards—the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Since U Been Gone" and the Best Pop Vocal Album. She also won Best Female Video two years in a row, for "Since U Been Gone" and "Because of You", at the MTV Video Music Awards. Clarkson's second video album, Behind Hazel Eyes, was released on March 29, 2005. In 2005, she performed and participated during the thirtieth season of the American sketch-comedy series, Saturday Night Live, and the reality series Damage Control with Simple Plan frontman Pierre Bouvier. She performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Game 2 of the NBA Finals. She also performed during the festivities All-Star Game and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy; In 2006, Clarkson recorded "Go" as a free download for the Ford Motor Company advertising campaign.
Clarkson's third studio album, My December, was released on June 22, 2007. The album relied on darker themes and heavier rock music. Clarkson replaced Davis as the executive producer and co-wrote all the tracks. She opted to collaborate with her band members rather than her previous producers and collaborators. Its production and release became a subject of a dispute with RCA, particularly with Davis. He noted the album's lack of professional production input and wanted her to re-record tracks with a more mainstream appeal, which she refused. Clarkson defended herself saying, "I've sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say. I couldn't give a crap about being a star. I've always just wanted to sing and write." The album received positive response, but lack of promotion due to reluctance of RCA led Clarkson to dismiss Kwatinetz and Live Nation to cancel its accompanying tour, the My December Tour, and reschedule it into a smaller scale with supporting acts Jon McLaughlin, Sean Kingston and Mandy Moore. Clarkson later hired talent manager Narvel Blackstock of Starstruck Management. Blackstock was the husband of country artist Reba McEntire, of whom Clarkson is a close friend. Clarkson later issued an apology to Davis, citing him as "a key advisor" in her success.
My December debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA. The album went on to sell over 2.5 million copies worldwide. It featured only one major hit single, "Never Again", which debuted and peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100—her highest debut on the chart ever. On July 7, 2007, Clarkson performed on the American leg of Live Earth concert. Clarkson partnered with NASCAR during their 2007 season, appearing in televised advertisements, performed at pre-race concerts, promoted NASCAR Day, and appeared at the Champions' Banquet in December.
Clarkson collaborated with Reba McEntire in an hour-long CMT Crossroads special at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on February 22, 2007. Introduced by Dolly Parton, Clarkson performed "Why Haven't I Heard from You" and "Does He Love You" with Martina McBride on the television special CMT Giants: Reba McEntire. She also appeared on an episode of McEntire's sitcom Reba, which aired on January 14, 2007. At the Academy of Country Music Awards on May 16, 2007, Clarkson and McEntire sang a country version of "Because of You", which also became the lead single from the album Reba: Duets. It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. Throughout 2008, Clarkson and McEntire embarked on the 2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour to support Reba: Duets and My December.
Clarkson's fourth album, All I Ever Wanted, was released on March 10, 2009. Clarkson continued to co-write her own material, but this time she returned to a mainstream-oriented sound by reuniting with previous collaborators Dr. Luke, Martin, and DioGuardi, and new collaborators Howard Benson, Claude Kelly, Ryan Tedder, Glen Ballard, Matt Thiessen and Katy Perry in contributing tracks for the album. The release of All I Ever Wanted was met with positive acclaim from music critics for its lighter themes. The album was a commercial success, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and remaining there for two weeks. The album has sold over a million copies in the U.S. and garnered Clarkson a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
Its first single, "My Life Would Suck Without You", became an international hit. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 97 and rose to the top position the following week, breaking the record for the biggest jump to number one in a single week previously held by Britney Spears' "Womanizer". It also topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hungary. It was followed with two more top-twenty singles, "I Do Not Hook Up" and "Already Gone". The release of "Already Gone" became a subject of another dispute between Clarkson and RCA, after she realized its similarities with Beyoncé's song "Halo", both of which were produced by Tedder. Further promotion for the album was abruptly ended with the limited success of its fourth and final singles, "All I Ever Wanted" and "Cry". Clarkson supported All I Ever Wanted with the All I Ever Wanted Tour from 2009 to 2010. She also performed as one of many main artists for the return of VH1 Divas in September 2009. Clarkson became a guest mentor on the Dutch television series X Factor in November 2009.
See also: Duets (TV series)
Clarkson recorded a country duet with Jason Aldean, "Don't You Wanna Stay", for his 2010 album My Kinda Party. It became her first number-one song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and has sold over 2.7 million copies, making it the best-selling country collaboration in history. It received numerous country-related accolades, including a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards. Clarkson incorporated a slight country vibe into her fifth studio album, Stronger, which was also influenced by Prince, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, and Radiohead. She worked with several producers including Greg Kurstin, Ester Dean, Darkchild, Toby Gad, Steve Jordan, and Howard Benson. Released on October 21, 2011, Stronger debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It was also critically applauded and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards, making her the first artist to win the award twice.
Stronger's lead single, "Mr. Know It All", was released in September 2011. It reached number one in Australia and South Korea and attained a top-ten position in seven countries, including the U.S., where it became her ninth top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also became a crossover hit to the country charts, prompting RCA to reissue a country version. "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" served as the second single in January 2012, and topped sixteen Billboard charts, becoming her third number one on the Hot 100. It also reached number one in Poland and Slovakia and reached the top ten in many other charts worldwide. It remains Clarkson's best-selling single, with 4.9 million copies sold in the U.S. alone. The song was nominated for three Grammy Awards—Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. "Dark Side" was released as the third and final single in June 2012, and it achieved a modest success. It became her eleventh top-ten hit on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart, and she surpassed Sheryl Crow and Katy Perry as the female artist with the most top-ten songs on the chart.
The release of Stronger was accompanied by two EPs, The Smoakstack Sessions and iTunes Session. The latter debuted at number 85 on the Billboard 200, and it was promoted by its only single, a cover of "I'll Be Home For Christmas". Clarkson co-wrote "Tell Me a Lie", which was recorded by British boy band One Direction for their debut album, Up All Night (2011). Clarkson promoted Stronger with two concert tours, the Stronger Tour and the co-headlining the Kelly Clarkson / The Fray Tour with the alternative rock band The Fray. On February 5, 2012, she performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XLVI to widespread critical acclaim. She later released a promotional single, "Get Up (A Cowboys Anthem)", for use in Pepsi's NFL advertising campaign.
Clarkson served as a mentor and judge, alongside John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Robin Thicke, on the ABC television show Duets, which premiered on May 24, 2012. The show concluded on July 19, 2012, with Clarkson's contestant Jason Farol finishing as the second runner-up. She also became a guest mentor to Blake Shelton's team on season two of the American television series The Voice. The two later collaborated on a cover of "There's a New Kid in Town" for Shelton's 2012 Christmas album, Cheers, It's Christmas.
Commemorating the 10th anniversary of her career in music, Clarkson released her first greatest hits album, Greatest Hits – Chapter One, on November 19, 2012. Three new songs recorded for the compilation—"Catch My Breath", "Don't Rush" (featuring country musician Vince Gill) and "People Like Us"—were all released as singles. "Catch My Breath" became her 14th top-twenty hit on the Hot 100 chart as well as her 13th million-selling single in the United States. According to Billboard, it was the third biggest adult contemporary song of 2013. However, its follow-up singles performed moderately well on the charts. Clarkson earned more nominations from the country music industry, including Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Don't Rush" at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards and Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2012 Country Music Association Awards. Chapter One was eventually certified gold in Australia, the UK and the U.S.
In January 2013, Clarkson performed "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at the second inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama. Her live rendition was acclaimed by critics, who contrasted it with Beyoncé's pre-recorded performance during the same event. In February 2013, she performed "Tennessee Waltz" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards as a tribute to Patti Page and Carole King. She also released a non-album single, "Tie It Up", exclusively to country music stations in June 2013. Clarkson and Maroon 5 performed at 24 concerts as part of the 12th Annual Honda Civic Tour, starting on August 1, 2013, and ending on October 6, 2013. She was featured on the re-recorded version of "Foolish Games" for Jewel's first compilation, Greatest Hits (2013). Clarkson also collaborated with singer Robbie Williams on the song "Little Green Apples" for his 2013 album Swings Both Ways.
Clarkson's sixth studio album and first Christmas record, Wrapped in Red, was solely produced by Greg Kurstin. She co-wrote all five original songs and recorded eleven cover versions of Christmas standards and carols. Released on October 25, 2013, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums and at number three on the Billboard 200 chart. By December 2013, Wrapped in Red had already been certified platinum by the RIAA and eventually became the best-selling holiday album of the year, making her the first American female artist to do so. The album's lead single, "Underneath the Tree", was an adult contemporary number-one hit in both the U.S. and Canada. Clarkson subsequently became Billboard's ninth top adult contemporary act of 2013. On December 11, 2013, her first Christmas special debut, Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale, garnered over 5.3 million viewers. In December 2013, Citizen Watch Co. announced Clarkson as their newest Brand Ambassador. Retaining her relationship with country music acts in 2014, Clarkson collaborated with Martina McBride on "In the Basement" (originally by Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto) for McBride's album Everlasting and with Trisha Yearwood on "PrizeFighter" for Yearwood's compilation PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit. Clarkson also performed a rendition of "All I Ask of You" with Josh Groban on his seventh studio album, Stages, and its companion television special. She was featured on Ben Haenow's "Second Hand Heart", the lead single from his debut studio album.
In February 2015, Clarkson released Piece by Piece, her seventh and final studio album under her recording contract with RCA Records. Musically, it is an electropop and dance album, featuring collaborations with Kurstin, Jesse Shatkin, Sia, John Legend, and Shane McAnally, among others. Piece by Piece received a reasonably positive response from music critics and became her third album to debut at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. To promote the album, Clarkson appeared in several televised performances, including the fourteenth season of American Idol, where she became the only alumnus ever to be dedicated with a competing week featuring her discography. She also supported the Piece by Piece Tour throughout 2015, which was cut short of its worldwide visits following medical recommendations for a vocal rest during the year.
Piece by Piece spawned three singles. The first one, "Heartbeat Song", peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a top-ten hit in the UK, Austria, Poland, and South Africa. However, Clarkson failed to achieve a similar success with the second single, "Invincible". The third and final single, "Piece by Piece", debuted and peaked at number eight on the Hot 100 chart, following Clarkson's emotional performance on the fifteenth season of American Idol. It became her eleventh U.S. top-ten hit and matched "Never Again" as her highest debut on the chart. At the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, the album and "Heartbeat Song" were nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance, respectively. At the following year, the title track also received a nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.
See also: The Voice (American TV series)
In February 2016, it was announced that Clarkson had signed a book deal with HarperCollins. Her first children's book, River Rose and the Magical Lullaby was released on October 4, 2016. The book features an original lullaby written and performed by Clarkson. On the possibility of writing any more books in the future, Clarkson told Publishers Weekly, "I've got a few ideas – there could be a lullaby for each book. We've got a plethora of stories, and I've already written seven songs, full out, so we'll just have to see which ones might pan out to be a book. But yes, there will definitely be more." The second book featuring River Rose, River Rose and the Magical Christmas, was released on October 24, 2017, and included an original song written and sung by Clarkson, "Christmas Eve".
On March 15, 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama released "This Is for My Girls", a collaborative track featuring vocals from Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, Zendaya, and Missy Elliott to coincide with Barack Obama's SXSW speech and to promote the First Lady's third-world educational initiative Let Girls Learn. Clarkson recorded a solo version of "It's Quiet Uptown" for The Hamilton Mixtape. Her version was released on November 3, 2016, as a promotional single for the album. She also recorded a duet called "Love Goes On" with Aloe Blacc for the original soundtrack of The Shack, which was released in the United States on March 3, 2017. On May 11, 2017, it was announced that Clarkson would join The Voice as a coach for the series' fourteenth season.
On June 24, 2016, Clarkson announced she had signed a long-term worldwide deal with Atlantic Records, with the intentions of releasing a soul-influenced eighth studio album in 2017. In November 2016, Clarkson announced her intention to release a new single in April 2017, with the album to follow in June. On September 4, 2017, Clarkson announced her new lead single "Love So Soft", which was released on September 7, 2017, along with the song "Move You". On September 6, 2017, Clarkson announced that her album, Meaning of Life, would be released on October 27, 2017. Clarkson opened the 45th American Music Awards with P!nk, and together they performed R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" to honor first responders. Later in the show, she performed "Miss Independent" and "Love So Soft". "Love So Soft" was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. She now holds the record for the most nominations in that category with four. With the release of Meaning of Life, Clarkson revealed that she had discussions with Atlantic Records about the sound of the follow-up record and has expressed interest in venturing deeper into R&B and soulful pop music.
Clarkson lent her voice in the computer-animated film The Star, alongside Oprah Winfrey, Steven Yeun, Tyler Perry, and others. The film is based on the Nativity of Jesus. Developed by Sony Pictures Animation, the film was released on November 17, 2017. This was the first film in which Clarkson performed a voice role. Clarkson also had a guest voice role in the Netflix animated series Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, portraying herself in the series' 2017 animated Christmas special, Home for the Holidays, alongside Ben Schwartz. In March 2018, Clarkson released "I've Loved You Since Forever", a ballad version of the children's book by Hoda Kotb. On May 10, 2018, Clarkson's return to The Voice for the series' fifteenth season was announced. Clarkson hosted and performed at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on May 20, 2018. In the fourteenth season of The Voice, Brynn Cartelli was crowned the winner, giving Clarkson her first victory. In the fifteenth season of The Voice, Chevel Shepherd was crowned the winner, giving Clarkson her second consecutive victory and making her the first female coach to win multiple seasons.
See also: The Kelly Clarkson Show
On February 25, 2019, Clarkson returned as a coach for the sixteenth season of The Voice. Three days later, it was announced that she would return to host the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, which aired on May 1, 2019. Clarkson voiced Moxy and provided original songs in the animated musical comedy film UglyDolls, which was released on May 3, 2019. On March 27, 2019, she released "Broken & Beautiful", the lead single from the UglyDolls: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Clarkson also began hosting the daytime variety talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, which premiered on September 9, 2019. Clarkson returned as a coach on the seventeenth season of The Voice, which premiered in September 2019. Jake Hoot was later crowned the winner of the seventeenth season, giving Clarkson her third victory as a coach in four seasons. Four seasons later, Girl Named Tom was crowned winners of the twenty-first season as the first group act to win an American season and securing Clarkson her fourth coach victory.
On October 7, 2019, it was announced that she would return as coach for the eighteenth season of The Voice, alongside Legend, Shelton, and new coach Nick Jonas. The season premiered on February 24, 2020. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, major alterations were made to the show, and all the judges and contestants had to pre-record their performances from home. It was announced that she had joined the cast of Trolls World Tour, voicing Delta Dawn. The film was released on April 10, 2020. In November 2019, Clarkson announced a Las Vegas residency, Kelly Clarkson: Invincible. The residency will take place at the Zappos Theater. It was supposed to run from April to September 2020, but it was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Clarkson also made an appearance on the Apple TV+ drama series The Morning Show as herself, performing her song "Heat" and interacting with the fictional hosts of the show. In February 2020, Clarkson became a brand ambassador for Wayfair. In addition, Wayfair released "an 'exclusive' collection of furniture and decor inspired by Clarkson and her Texan roots." On April 16, 2020, Clarkson released the standalone single "I Dare You" in English, as well as duets in five different languages with five native-speaking artists. In May 2020, Clarkson was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards for The Kelly Clarkson Show, including Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show and Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host. The show itself earned seven nominations, the most for any talk show, with Clarkson winning in the category Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host.
In June 2020, it was announced that Clarkson would be returning as a coach for the nineteenth season of The Voice. That same month, it was announced that she would receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2021, being inducted into the category of Recording. In May 2021, NBC announced that Clarkson's show would take over the time slot of The Ellen DeGeneres Show after it ends in 2022. In June 2021, Clarkson won two Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Talk Show Entertainment and a second consecutive win for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host.
On September 23, 2021, Clarkson released "Christmas Isn't Canceled (Just You)", the lead single off her ninth studio album and second Christmas album, When Christmas Comes Around... The album was released on October 15, 2021. In November 2021, Clarkson performed at the second annual iHeartRadio Holiday Special.
Clarkson is a soprano, with a range spanning from E♭3 to G6. Clarkson can ascend to the whistle register, as well as possessing the ability to sing complex melisma. Describing Clarkson's voice, Arion Berger of Rolling Stone wrote that "her high notes are sweet and pillowy, her growl is bone-shaking and sexy, and her mid-range is amazingly confident." In reviewing a live performance of Clarkson's, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times said she "showed off a voice that moved in all sorts of ways, without ever appearing to strain", continuing "Ms. Clarkson, who has a malleable voice and a boatload of vocal confidence, might be a soul siren in the making". However, in a separate review of Stronger, Caramanica said Clarkson's voice is "too huge, too violent" for warmer and sweeter vocal stylings, stating "she's on a par with Taylor Swift when it comes to vengeance, and she'll do it louder and with more brutality in comparison to her contemporary." In a live review as part of her Stronger Tour, Sophie Sinclair of Hit The Floor said "Kelly's strong and powerful voice was flawless throughout the night, and some may even say she sounds better live than she does on her albums". Mark Deming from Phoenix New Times stated that "in an era when pop music means over-singing a song into a bloody pulp, Clarkson has consistently displayed both charisma and a welcome sense of restraint, knowing how to sound passionate and heartfelt without forgetting where the melody and the root note is supposed to go."
Dr. Luke, who produced some of Clarkson's hits, said "She has powerful lungs. She's like the Lance Armstrong of vocal cords." In an interview with Good Morning America, Simon Cowell was asked of the then six American Idol winners, who he thought had the best voice. Cowell immediately answered that Clarkson did "by a mile", noting that she was "up there" with other great singers such as Celine Dion. Esquire wrote that Clarkson has "the best voice in the history of pop music". Reviewing Stronger, Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone states, Clarkson has "one of music's most remarkable voices." Jason Lipshutz from Billboard considered Clarkson as one of the greatest singers in pop music. Regarding the controversial practice of lip-syncing, Clarkson says she never has and never will lip-sync, elaborating in an interview with Cory Myers, "I've actually never done that because I'm terrified; if I ever did that, something horrible would happen, the track would skip. I have a really unhealthy fear about it. So no, I've never done that". Clarkson has earned the title "Queen of Covers" for her ability to perform songs from artists of various genres.
At age eight, Clarkson was first inspired to venture into music during a visit to an African-American church in Fort Worth. She recalled: "I was like, 'Wow, whatever they're feeling, I want to feel it too'." Clarkson has been influenced by musicians across various genres. She cited soul singer Aretha Franklin as her major influence. Many of her chosen Idol numbers were Aretha Franklin covers, including "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", which is considered her breakout moment during the competition. Other soul acts who influenced Clarkson were Mariah Carey, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, and Whitney Houston. Clarkson was also influenced by rock acts such as Radiohead, Garbage, Aerosmith, and Jimi Hendrix, as well as Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, and Rosemary Clooney. Regarding her musical influence, Clarkson explained:
I grew up with three totally different parents that were into different music. My stepfather is into Willie Nelson and Elvis and all that kind of stuff. And my real father is into Mariah and Whitney and Aretha, all those soulful singers. My mom is into more, like, adult contemporary—Celine Dion, Barbra [Streisand], Bette Midler, all those types of things. And then my brother is a big influence on me. He's like ten years older than me, so you always wanna be around your cool brother and hang out, so I grew up loving Guns N' Roses. I was all about Metallica. I was all about all those bands, and I still am. I love Aerosmith and No Doubt. I have so many influences on me that are so different. And even country. I love Reba McEntire. I could listen to her all the time.
The [talent] show just gives you your 15 minutes. It gives you the chance to be seen on television. It's what you do afterwards that really counts. A lot of people just want to be famous. If that's your goal, it's not going to be long term. Anyone can be famous. It's called YouTube.
—Clarkson on her career longevity.
Clarkson has scored over 100 number ones on the Billboard charts and sold over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide, including 14 million albums and 35 million digital singles in the United States alone. She became the first artist to top each of Billboard's pop, adult contemporary, adult pop, country and dance charts. She was ranked nineteenth on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music. Television channel Fuse included Clarkson among "30 Greatest Musicians to Come From Singing Competitions" list. Music executive Simon Cowell believed that "What [Clarkson] sold in the UK, Europe, Asia had nothing to do with American Idol. It had everything to do with the fact that she made a great record and she's got an incredible voice. She's not a girl who got lucky in a talent competition; we got lucky to find her." According to The Hollywood Reporter, Clarkson is "the embodiment of the perfect pop star. Her unmistakable pipes are a powerful presence in top 40 and country, with forays into anthemic rock and dance." Nolan Feeney from Time asserted that Clarkson "has had more of a lasting impact on the pop music landscape than casual listeners might realize."
According to Billboard, Clarkson was a "phenomenon" who "helped legitimize" the impact of talent shows. The Washington Post wrote that "Clarkson's powerhouse voice and dynamic presence signaled that the music industry should take these reality show contestants seriously: Her first two albums, Thankful and Breakaway, sold about ten million copies combined, and her pop tunes became empowerment anthems across the globe." Glenn Gamboa of Newsday believed Clarkson "has set the standard for all singing competition contestants with her savvy mix of pop, rock and country." Fox Broadcasting Company said that Clarkson gave "lasting credibility" to American Idol and "in so many ways she cleared a road" for all of the next contestants." George Varga from The San Diego Union-Tribune underlined the difference of Clarkson from most other talent show contestants is that she "writes or co-writes a fair number of [her] own songs. She is also the only one whose quest to follow her artistic instincts—the better to rock out and break free from the Idol cookie-cutter pop mold—prompted her to fire her management team and engage in a prolonged public battle with her record company, RCA."
Jon Lisi from PopMatters cited Clarkson as one of the forces of female domination in pop music of the 2000s. He explained that "Clarkson's anti-sexual image appealed to those who were uncomfortable with Britney Spears' overt exhibitionism. When Clarkson performed "Since U Been Gone" at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, for instance, she only showed her midriff, and it was clear that she was marketing herself to an alternative group of young females who liked pop music's conventional sound but didn't want to be confronted with sexual imagery." Mickey Rapkin of Billboard magazine, who called Clarkson a role model and compared her vocals to golden-era Aretha Franklin, stated that Clarkson "has never shied away from speaking her mind, whether in her propulsive pop anthems or on her filter-free Twitter feed." Clarkson has also been an influence on other artists. Singer Demi Lovato, who cited Clarkson as their musical inspiration, said Clarkson "stays out of the tabloids. You hear about her through how talented her music is, not what's going on in her personal life." Country music singer Kelsea Ballerini cites Clarkson as her inspiration and her most favorite female artist of all time, calling her "the best vocalist in the whole world." Singer Ava Max told Clarkson on her talk show that she is an influence on her own career complimenting Clarkson's "massive" voice. Max also said she sang "big pop vocalist songs growing up" (including Clarkson in her influences) and "would always try to hit [Clarkson's] high notes." Max also puts Clarkson's song "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" in every playlist she creates citing that it's one of her favorite songs.
In 2012, she began dating talent manager Brandon Blackstock, son of her former manager Narvel Blackstock and former stepson of Reba McEntire. Clarkson and Blackstock married on October 20, 2013, at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. During their marriage, Brandon was her manager. Together, they have a daughter, River Rose, born in June 2014, and a son, Remington "Remy" Alexander, born in April 2016. In June 2020, Clarkson filed for divorce from Blackstock, citing irreconcilable differences. On November 30, 2020, court documents obtained by USA Today revealed that Clarkson won primary custody of both of their children. In July 2021, Clarkson requested to be declared legally divorced, with the reasoning that she and Blackstock "both deserve the opportunity to build a new life". The divorce was finalized on August 3, 2021.
In October 2019, Clarkson said that she has been managing an autoimmune condition and a thyroid condition since 2006, a fact which she had previously addressed on Today in 2018. Clarkson credited her health improvements and weight loss to "The Plant Paradox" program by Dr. Steven Gundry.
In April 2007, Clarkson took part in "Idol Gives Back", a fundraiser for people in poverty in both Africa and the U.S., performing "Up to the Mountain" along with Jeff Beck. She would also perform a five-song set later that year on the American leg of Live Earth concerts opting for environmental awareness about climate change. She has served as ambassador for the March of Dimes since she was on American Idol, raising money regularly and assisting in volunteer service, having walked for "March for Babies", for the cause of improvement of the health of mothers and babies. Clarkson, additionally, got involved in the organization "Houses of Hope", who take care and build orphanages for children in South Africa who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, abuse and poverty. She has visited those children and also participated in "A Night for Hope" fund-raiser concert (held by Clarkson's background vocal singers, Jill and Kate), where she performed a song she wrote after her trip to South Africa, "You Still Won't Know What It's Like". Clarkson also supports the charities Save the Children, UNICEF, "Do Something" and "STOMP Out Bullying" and music causes like the Save the Music Foundation.
Clarkson had a ranch in Texas for unwanted animals, which included amputee goats, blind dogs, and horses that survived colic; there are more than 80 animals at the sanctuary. She helped provide veterinary care for them and found them an adoptive family. Clarkson performed in a benefit concert on March 1, 2013, supporting the Omaha based Opportunity Education Foundation, an organization that provides access to education for children around the world, stating "Education was a key part of my childhood, and I am better for it. Anything for education I am really into and especially for kids. A lot of people don't have computers, and they can't afford them. Without education, you get far behind. As long as they have a chance, you know, I think that's important. I want every kid to have a chance." In 2013, Clarkson teamed up with State Farm Insurance to support teen safe driving as a part of Celebrate My Drive program. In 2013, Clarkson supported Feeding America, The Ad Council and their Child Hunger PSA Campaign, which provides food for children facing hunger. Also in 2013, Clarkson participated in Green Mountain Coffee's Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Choose Fair Trade campaign by traveling to coffee farms in Peru to draw attention to the importance of being Fair Trade Certified.
Main article: Kelly Clarkson videography
Only the original "American Idol," Kelly Clarkson, can boast a bigger digital sales week:
The uptempo pop anthem becomes the original "American Idol" champion's third leader on the list.
The original American Idol has always been known for speaking her mind and letting that sense of humor rip.
American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson is the undisputed Queen of Covers. She consistently borrows other artists' songs and puts her signature spin on them, often producing something even better than the original.
The Queen of Covers has been asking fans to submit requests for every stop of her Piece by Piece Tour.
Kelly is herself an undisputed Queen of Covers, as we've pointed out before, so maybe there's a bit of torch-passing here?