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Kelly Clarkson Biography: 'American Idol,' 'Breakaway,' 'Stronger'

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born April 24th, 1982 in Fort Worth, Texas, Kelly Clarkson got her big break after she auditioned for "American Idol" in 2002 and won the competition. Her debut topped Billboard while her 2nd album spawned massively successful hits in the pop rock genre. Because of her vocal range and her refusal to fit the mold of the typical pop star, she has continued to find mainstream popularity, reaching number one again in 2012 with the title cut to her album, "Stronger." In this video, we take a look at the life and career of Kelly Clarkson.

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She’s Miss Independent. Welcome to and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of Kelly Clarkson.

Music as Therapy

Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born April 24th, 1982 in Fort Worth, Texas. At an early age, she discovered music’s therapeutic potential and used it to cope with family troubles. After singing in the choir and performing in musicals during high school, Clarkson developed her talent by taking lessons.

Los Angeles

Clarkson’s classical training opened her up to numerous opportunities, including scholarship offers from universities and a few record deals. However, she turned them down and relocated to Los Angeles in 2001. Unfortunately, she moved back to Texas after failing to attract label attention, where she worked several jobs to support herself.

”American Idol” Audition

The next year, she got her chance to pursue her dream of making music when “American Idol” stopped in Dallas. Clarkson’s successful audition secured her a spot as a contestant and sent her back to Hollywood.

First Season of “American Idol”

Over the course of three months, the aspiring artist showed off her singing skills, vocal range and likeable personality through multiple elimination rounds. She survived the judges’ criticism and audience voting thanks to her interpretations of several songs, and beat out Justin Guarini in the final round. As the competition’s winner, Clarkson became the first person to earn the American Idol title and won a contract with RCA Records.

“A Moment Like This”

During the finale, Clarkson sang “A Moment Like This,” which eventually became her first single. The track made history later that year after it jumped over 50 spots to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Her 2003 debut Thankful was an instant hit, and it topped the Billboard 200. The pop rock album also comprised her first Grammy-nominated song, “Miss Independent.” That same year, Clarkson returned to “American Idol” on several occasions and made her feature film debut in the critically reviled box office bomb, “From Justin to Kelly.”


Following her second place finish in “World Idol,” Clarkson turned up the rock side of her sound with her sophomore effort. She also co-wrote half a dozen tracks on 2004’s Breakaway, which became a top three disc. The Grammy-winning record produced multiple mega hits as well, including the title cut and the number two track “Since U Been Gone.”


Clarkson spent the next few years stretching her vocal chops in performances around the world, including the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics. She also worked at reshaping her post-Idol image, by refusing to conform to what was normally expected of pop starlets.


Her outspoken nature caused problems with her label, and soon she dropped her management company. She was also forced to cancel a tour due to low sales. Amid those problems, Clarkson released the darker 2007 album My December. That effort showcased Clarkson’s songwriting abilities as the artist helped pen all the album’s tracks. It went to number two on Billboard.

Reba McEntire

During this period, Clarkson also sang on television and at various events, and later teamed up with Reba McEntire on the “2 Worlds, 2 Voices” Tour.

Making History

2009 saw the release of the chart-topping All I Ever Wanted. The Grammy-nominated work was especially notable for the single “My Life Would Suck Without You,” which made a record-breaking jump from the 97th to the 1st position on the Billboard Hot 100. The single “Already Gone” also made waves after it was released against Clarkson’s wishes, as the singer felt it sounded too similar to Beyonce’s 2008 song, “Halo.”

Jason Aldean

Following a supporting tour, Clarkson collaborated with Jason Aldean on the commercially successful power ballad “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”


Clarkson continued getting in touch with her country roots on 2011’s Stronger. The number two pop rock disc produced the top ten single “Mr. Know It All” and the number one smash “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”


Following her performances at the Super Bowl XLVI and the 54th Grammy Awards, Clarkson appeared as a mentor on “The Voice,” in 2012.

Success Post-American Idol

Thanks to her dynamic vocals, endearing persona and determination, Kelly Clarkson has gained worldwide popularity and sold millions of albums. Despite ups and downs, she’s remained grounded and passionate about music so it’s little wonder that Clarkson is the most successful American Idol contestant to date.

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