Who Is Kelly Clarkson?
Kelly Clarkson won the first season of American Idol in 2002, claiming the million-dollar prize of an RCA record contract. Her first single, "A Moment Like This," jumped from No. 52 to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and her second album, Breakaway, earned two Grammy Awards. Clarkson followed with numerous hit singles, including "Because of You" and "My Life Would Suck Without You." The artist has also published children's books, serves as a coach on The Voice and hosts a daytime talk show.
Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982, in Fort Worth, Texas. Clarkson graduated from Burleson High School in 2000, where she sang in the school choir. After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career.
Supporting herself with numerous odd jobs, Clarkson made a few television appearances and eventually landed a job working as a female vocalist with songwriter Gerry Goffin. Unfortunately, a bout of bad luck discouraged her and she returned to Texas shortly thereafter. In 2002, a friend told her about a new talent search show on Fox called American Idol, and Clarkson became one of 10,000 contestants.
'American Idol' Winner
After grueling rounds of televised eliminations, and critical evaluations by judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, Kelly Clarkson prevailed against Justin Guarini to become the first winner of the hit contest on September 4, 2002. Her official prize was a million-dollar RCA record contract; the unofficial prize a considerable amount of fame and notoriety.
Albums & Songs
The following month, her first single, "A Moment Like This," went from No. 52 to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. In 2003, she made her feature film debut in the forgettable From Justin to Kelly. Fortunately, her first album fared much better than her movie. Thankful was a hit based in part because of the smash single, "Miss Independent."
Clarkson went on to establish herself as a leading pop star with her second album, Breakaway (2004). The album spawned several big hits, including "Since U Been Gone," "Breakaway," "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "Walk Away." It also earned Clarkson two Grammy Awards in 2005: one for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Since U Been Gone" and another for Best Pop Vocal Album — an award she shared with producer Clive Davis and engineer/mixer Serban Ghenea.
After selling millions of records, Clarkson was under a lot of pressure to keep the hits coming. But she wanted to try something different. Clarkson did not use the same team of songwriters as she had in the past and relied more strongly on songs that she co-wrote. The result led to a clash with Clive Davis over the album, My December (2007), after he suggested it needed to be reworked. Davis expressed concern that there were no singles on the album and others indicated that its overall tone was too negative. But Clarkson refused to change what she considered to be a very personal recording.
Around this time, Clarkson experienced more career difficulties. She fired her management and canceled a planned concert tour for the summer of 2007. My December was released in late June of that year and initially had strong sales, but still the cloud from the Clarkson-Davis conflict hung over the project. She later expressed regret about the dispute, saying that it had been blown way out of proportion. Clarkson called Davis a "key adviser" and "an important force in my success," adding, "he has also given me respect by releasing my new album when he was not obligated to do so."
'All I Ever Wanted'
In 2009 Clarkson released her fourth album, All I Ever Wanted. The first single off the album, "My Life Would Suck Without You," hit the airwaves in January 2009, shooting from No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 to No. 1. The jump broke the record of largest leap to the top spot. This marked the second time Clarkson broke this record; in 2002, her American Idol single "A Moment Like This" catapulted from No. 52 to No. 1. The album also made it to No. 1 in the United States, selling 255,000 copies in its first week, with Clarkson continuing to co-write songs.
'Stronger,' 'Piece by Piece'
Clarkson's fifth studio album came in 2011 — Stronger, which reached No. 2 and featured the singles "Mr. Know It All" and "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," with the latter becoming the singer's third No. 1 pop track. A greatest hits compilation followed in 2012, while 2013 saw Clarkson releasing a holiday album, Wrapped in Red. Then in 2015, Clarkson dropped her seventh full-length studio release, Piece by Piece, featuring the single "Heartbeat Song."
'Meaning of Life'
In June of 2016, Clarkson announced she had signed a deal with Atlantic Records with plans to release a soul-influenced album in 2017, which she did that fall, entitled Meaning of Life. The album soared to No. 2 on the Billboard charts and included the hit singles "Love So Soft", which was nominated for a Grammy, and "Move You."
'The Voice' Coach
In February 2018, Clarkson joined Adam Levine, Alicia Keys and Blake Shelton as coaches for season 14 of the singing competition series The Voice. One of her pickups, 15-year-old Brynn Cartelli, became the youngest winner in the show's history. Clarkson later returned for seasons 15, 16 and 17.
Additionally, the singer played host at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards and was tapped to repeat hosting duties the following year.
'The Kelly Clarkson Show'
On September 19, 2018, Clarkson announced she would he hosting her own variety talk show. "I love connecting with people, playing games, music and finding ways to help or give back to communities/organizations," Clarkson said. "Having my own talk show where I get to do all of these things is pretty much a dream job!" The Kelly Clarkson Show premiered one year later, on September 9, 2019, with Dwayne Johnson serving as her first guest.
Books and 'UglyDolls'
In collaboration with HarperCollins, Clark released her first children's book, River Rose and the Magical Lullaby, in October 2016. A follow-up story, River Rose and the Magical Christmas, arrived in October 2017. Both books feature an original song written and performed by the artist.
Also in 2016, Clarkson collaborated with Janelle Monáe, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, Zendaya and Missy Elliott on Michelle Obama’s "This Is for My Girls" single to promote the first lady’s "Let Girls Learn" educational initiative.
In July 2018 it was announced that Clarkson was joining the cast of the animated UglyDolls (2019) alongside Shelton, Monáe and Nick Jonas. Along with voicing the main character of Moxy, Clarkson recorded a new single, "Broken & Beautiful," for the film's soundtrack.
In December 2012, Clarkson announced via Twitter her engagement to Brandon Blackstock, her boyfriend of one year, writing on her personal Twitter page: "I'M ENGAGED!!!!! I wanted y'all to know!! Happiest night of my life last night! I am so lucky and am with the greatest man ever." Blackstock is the son of Clarkson's manager, Narvel Blackstock, and stepson of singer Reba McEntire. Clarkson also celebrated her engagement with a performance of her song "Catch My Breath" on VH1 Divas — her third performance on the show to date.
Clarkson and Blackstock tied the knot the following October. The couple wed at Blackberry Farms in Tennessee on October 20th. Exactly one month later, on November 20, 2013, Clarkson used her Twitter account yet again to release breaking news about her personal life. She announced that she was expecting her first child with husband Blackstock. "I'm pregnant!!! Brandon and I are so excited! Best early Christmas present ever :)," she wrote.
Clarkson and Blackstock welcomed daughter River Rose on June 12, 2014. The couple's second child, Remington Alexander, was born on April 12, 2016. Clarkson also is the stepmother to her husband's two children from a previous marriage.
Clarkson filed divorce papers from Blackstock in June 2020 after nearly seven years of marriage
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