Kelly Brianne Clarkson
(born April 24, 1982) is an American pop
singer, songwriter, and occasional actress. Clarkson made her debut
under RCA Records after she won the highly-publicized first season of
the television series American Idol
She was originally
marketed as a pop musician with her debut album Thankful (2003).
With the release of her multi-platinum second album, Breakaway
(2004), Clarkson moved to a more rock-oriented style of music.
Clarkson's third album, entitled My December, was released on
June 26, 2007. According to Sony Music, Clarkson has sold over 20
million albums worldwide.
Clarkson has had eight of her singles become Top ten hits on the
Billboard Hot 100. Her first three albums sold over 9.5 million copies
in the United States. In
2008, she joined VH1's list of 10 sexiest women of the new millennium at
#8. She also hit #28 on Vh1's Top 30 Hottest Rock Front Women.
of 2008 she is one of the 10 most played artists on adult contemporary
radio. Clarkson's fourth album titled All I Ever Wanted was
released on March 10, 2009, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. Her
latest single, "My Life Would Suck Without You", advanced from No. 97 to
No. 1 on the Hot 100 in its first week of release, breaking the record
for the largest leap to the position in chart history.
She is currently the only American Idol contestant to have
reached number one in the UK. She claimed number one on March 1, 2009
when "My Life Would Suck Without You" debuted number one on downloads
Clarkson has sold over 10,060,000 albums in the United States,
becoming the highest-selling Idol winner. According to Nielsen
SoundScan, Clarkson is also ranked on the top 200 album sellers of the
Nielsen SoundScan era at number 187.
Clarkson has sold 20,300,000 albums worldwide.
Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born in Fort Worth, Texas and grew up in
the small town of Burleson, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth. She is the
third and youngest child of Jeanne Rose, a first grade teacher, and
Stephen Michael Clarkson, a former engineer. She is of part Greek
siblings include her brother Jason, and her sister Alyssa. When Clarkson
was six years old, her parents split up after seventeen years of
marriage. As a result, her brother went to live with her father, her
sister went to live with an aunt, and Clarkson remained with her mother.
Clarkson frequently moved around Texas while her mother managed several
professions in order to support the family. The family settled in
Burleson, where Clarkson's mother married her second husband, Jimmy
Clarkson's family struggled financially, and music became her refuge
after the first divorce. Clarkson attended Pauline G Hughes Middle
School and Burleson High School, originally aiming to become a marine
biologist. In seventh grade, a teacher (Mrs. Cynthia Glenn) overheard
her singing in a hallway and asked her to audition for the school choir.
Clarkson told the teacher that she had never received professional vocal
In high school, Clarkson performed in musicals such as
Annie Get Your Gun, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and
Brigadoon. Around this time, Clarkson decided to pursue singing. She
sang at her high school talent show, after which a gentleman shared some
inspiring words with her: "God has given you this gift. You've got to
sing. You're destined to sing." Clarkson did continue to sing and soon
started classical training, hoping that music would be her ticket to a
Clarkson worked numerous odd jobs during and after high school, such
as mowing lawns, helping her contractor stepfather build porches, and
working in a movie theater starting at age 16 and until she moved to Los
Angeles. She also worked for Papa John's, Subway, Six Flags Over Texas,
Starbucks, and sold vacuums door to door (her latter experience which
she described with a well-intended pun: "It sucked.").
She attended Crestmont Baptist Church in Burleson during her high school
Upon high school graduation, Clarkson was offered full scholarships
to The University of Texas at Austin, University of North Texas, and
Berklee, but decided against college because she had "already written so
much music and wanted to try it on her own. And she figured you're never
too old to go to college."
American Idol 2002
Clarkson won the first season of American Idol on September 4,
2002, earning 58% of the vote to 42% for Justin Guarini.
Choking back tears, Clarkson performed the ballad "A Moment Like This",
the song written for the winner of American Idol, which would
subsequently appear on her debut album, Thankful. The song's
music video was filmed at Pantages Theater in Hollywood, and
incorporated short scenes of Clarkson performing on Idol.
released as a single in October 2002, it set a record on the U.S.
Billboard Hot 100 chart when it rose from number 52 to number one.
This achievement was largely due to the impact from Idol as the
CD single managed to sell 236,000 copies in its first week of sales in
the U.S.; it spent
five weeks at number one in Canada.
Shortly following the completion of the first season of American
Idol, Clarkson was accused of working with a record company.
American Idol's rules stated that a contestant was not allowed to
compete on the program if they had been linked to a record company.
However, she was cleared of all allegations, as she had only had a
contract in order to conduct demonstration work.
Soon after winning American Idol, Clarkson starred with Idol
runner-up Justin Guarini in the movie From Justin to Kelly. The
film was poorly received by critics
and grossed only $5 million at the North American box office, less than
half its reported budget.
Clarkson has mentioned in interviews that she is shocked when people
send her scripts after From Justin to Kelly, often citing
contractual obligation as her sole reason for involvement in the film.
In December 2003, a competition titled World Idol was held in
London, UK, gathering the winners of the first seasons of Idol
from across the globe. Clarkson was contractually obligated to
participate, and placed second behind Norwegian Idol Kurt Nilsen.
She performed Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural
Woman". Because she left immediately after the competition, she was
chided by some in the media for what they saw as poor sportsmanship.
Clarkson later explained to fans that she was suffering from an illness.
Following the successful release of "A Moment Like This", Clarkson's
full-length debut album Thankful was released in North America by
RCA Records on April 15, 2003.
It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. Eventually,
the album was certified double platinum by the RIAA for sales of two
million copies on December 8, 2003
and platinum by the CRIA for sales of 100,000 copies on February 10,
2004. Reviews for the
album were generally favorable. However, several critics noted that her
early achievement was established due to her performances on American
Idol. 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".
Rachel Kipp of JS Online criticized Clarkson for not having the
same personality on Thankful that she had on American Idol,
and wrote: "on American Idol, Clarkson showcased a great voice
and an endearing, 'aw-shucks' personality. That personality is missing
on Thankful, and there lies the album's greatest fault". Kipp
blamed the producers behind the album for not allowing Clarkson to be
"Miss Independent" became a success when released as the second
single from Thankful. It reached the top ten of the U.S. and
Canadian singles charts, and earned Clarkson a 2004 Grammy Award
nomination for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance".
When the single was released in the United Kingdom and Australia, it
reached the top ten of the charts; however, Thankful received
less attention. It peaked at number forty-one on the UK albums chart and
at number 33 on the Australian albums chart. Further singles released
outside North America would appear even less successful.
"Low", the third single from Thankful, reached number two in
Canada, but it was unable to make the Top 40 of the U.S. chart. The
final single, "The Trouble with Love Is", was not released in Canada,
and it peaked at #101 on the U.S. Charts. Clarkson attributed the under
performance of both releases to poor management and relieved her manager
Simon Fuller, who she felt was not completely focused on her career.
Clarkson also covered Danielle Brisebois' "Just Missed the Train" on the
As of 2009, Thankful has sold over 4 million copies worldwide.
Distancing herself from her American Idol image, Clarkson took
more creative control with her second studio album Breakaway, and
developed a more rock-oriented image. Breakaway was released by RCA
Records on November 30, 2004.
The album debuted within the U.S. top five and Canadian top ten, but
sales were initially low in comparison to Thankful.
However, the single releases from Breakaway proved very
successful, and allowed it to become only the fourth album in history to
stay in the Billboard 200 Top 20 for a consecutive year, as well as,
being certified 6x platinum in the U.S. in late 2007
and 5x platinum in Canada in May, 2006.
In Australia, the album reached number two and spent 52 weeks in the top
10 and was certified 6x Platinum; however, it experienced a delayed
release in the UK.
Clarkson co-wrote six of the songs with several
songwriters, such as former Evanescence band members Ben Moody, David
Hodges and producer Max Martin; the title track was co-written by
punk-pop singer Avril Lavigne. Breakaway received different
responses from critics; Rolling Stone commented that "on Kelly
Clarkson's second album, [...] she embraces her rock side rather than
the pop pageantry that put her on top of the American Idol heap".
TeenInk noted the strength of her vocals on Breakaway, and
praised the change from pop music to contemporary rock: "[Clarkson]
retains the incredible power and beauty of her voice while switching to
magazine also enjoyed Clarkson's foray into rock music, however, she was
called out because of her American Idol image, which reviewer
Charles Merwin believed she had yet to lose. He praised the non-singles
and wrote that they "maintain a quality high".
Allmusic called the album "a nice, low-key relief".
Clarkson appeared on numerous television programs during the
promotional tour for Breakaway, some of which included
Saturday Night Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show and The View;
she performed the first two singles "Breakaway" and "Since U Been Gone"
on Saturday Night Live, which became her first major telecast
appearance in order to support the album. "Breakaway", co-written by
Avril Lavigne, served as the original song for The Princess Diaries
2: Royal Engagement (2004) and achieved considerable success across
the world; it became Clarkson's third top-ten single in the U.S. and
fourth top-ten single in Canada. It reached number ten in Australia, and
number 22 in the UK.
The song's contemporary pop-rock ambiance was one
of the several tracks including a stronger rock-influenced sound that
had not been heard on Thankful. The second single "Since U Been
Gone", which was 'produced' by Max Martin, became the most successful
release from the album. Its music video presented Clarkson singing to an
underground audience with a full band; cut scenes of Clarkson destroying
a former boyfriend's apartment were incorporated. The song's strong rock
ambiance allowed it to reach number two in the U.S. and the top five
across the world. It also earned Clarkson her first Grammy Award for
"Best Female Pop Vocal Performance"; she won a second award for "Best
Pop Vocal Album".
The third and fourth single releases, "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and
"Because of You", also followed with chart success. The video for
"Behind These Hazel Eyes" broke the record for days at #1 for a female
artist with 33 out of 50 days #1 on TRL. "Because Of You" became
Clarkson's biggest worldwide hit, her first to reach the number one
position on the world chart show, where it held for two consecutive
weeks in 2006.
The video for "Because of You" won the 2006 MTV Video
Music Award for Best Female Video, her second consecutive win in that
category (The first being from "Since U Been Gone"). The fifth single
from Breakaway, "Walk Away", was a top 15 hit in the U.S. and a
top five hit in Canada. Breakaway spent 103 weeks on the
Billboard 200. It fell out of the Billboard 200 in late November and was
moved to Billboard's Pop Catalog. Breakaway was the tenth best
selling album of 2006 in the US, adding nearly 2 million additional
sales to the 2005 and 2004 sales. As a testament to Clarkson's
continuing popularity, she was the most-played artist of 2006 on
American radio, despite releasing only one single in the entire year,
On December 23, 2006, American Top 40 radio show host Ryan Seacrest
announced during a countdown of 2006's most popular songs that Clarkson
had had a song in the American Top 40 for 111 weeks, making her "the
most successful female artist in AT40 history". She was also the most
radio broadcasted artist of 2006 in Australia and "Because Of You" was
the third most broadcast song of the same year, despite being released
In the summer of 2006, Clarkson lent Ford Motor Co. a song titled
"Go", written by Clarkson and Rhett Lawrence ("Miss Independent"). The
song is being used in the company's new advertising campaign, "Bold
As of 2009, Breakaway has sold over 13 million copies
2007–2008: My December
While on tour in Europe in 2006, Clarkson began writing and composing
songs for her third album, My December.
During the Addicted Tour, Clarkson debuted two of her songs: "Maybe" and
"Yeah". Recording commenced on the album in the summer of 2006. The
first single from My December was "Never Again", which made its
radio debut on April 13, 2007. The song was released on iTunes on April
20, 2007, but was taken down and replaced with a notice that said that
the song was not available until April 23, 2007.
The single peaked on
the Billboard Hot 100 at #8 and on the Pop 100 at #5. Following "Never
Again", Clarkson released "Sober" as her next single from My December
on June 6, 2007. The singles were promoted with appearances on Good
Morning America and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Clarkson
also returned to American Idol on the May 23, 2007 season 6
finale for the first time since its third season, performing "Never
Again" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with Aerosmith
guitarist Joe Perry during a Beatles medley.
The song "Chivas" is a hidden track which can be found after the song
"Irvine." Clarkson wrote the song on bar napkins before going to a
concert by Los Angeles based cover band Metal Skool where she was
famously seen sharing a bottle of Chivas Regal with Ryan Key of
Yellowcard in a popular YouTube video when she was brought on stage to
sing with the band.
Clarkson parted with her management, The Firm, on June 11, 2007,
after the controversyMy December.Clarkson
would then sign with Starstruck Entertainment, run by Narvel Blackstock
- the husband of Reba McEntire - on July 2, 2007.
On June 14, 2007, Live Nation announced that Clarkson's summer tour—her
first nationwide arena tour—had been canceled due to underwhelming
ticket sales, to be rescheduled after the release of the My December
album at smaller, more intimate concert environments.
Clarkson reinstated plans to tour the US during 2007, with a much
smaller tour than the one she canceled in June. Clarkson began her My
December Tour on October 10 in Verona, New York in venues significantly
smaller than those previously booked.
My December was officially released in the U.S. on June 26,
2007. On the date of the album's release, Clarkson appeared on Good
Morning America to promote her new album. Clarkson performed songs
from this new album, including the single "Never Again".
Despite the controversy surrounding My December, the album
debuted at #2 in the U.S. with 291,000 albums sold.This
is a slightly higher debut than Clarkson's previous album, Breakaway,
which debuted at #3.
On July 7, 2007, Clarkson performed on the American leg of Live
Earth. Her five-set performance list included: "Walk Away", "How I
Feel", "Never Again", "Sober", and "Since U Been Gone".
Clarkson was the celebrity coach for Canadian Idol during its
Top 5 week of the fifth season, aired on the CTV network on August 20,
and she performed on the results show the next night.She
was also awarded a Platinum Certification for shipments of more than
100,000 copies of My December in Canada.
Clarkson also performed at the 2007 NFL opening kickoff where she sang
the national anthem and performed songs from My December
including "Never Again", "Maybe" and "Don't Waste Your Time".
Clarkson also performed in the halftime show for the Dallas Cowboys and
New York Jets game on Thanksgiving Day.
My December was certified both gold (500,000 copies shipped)
and platinum (1,000,000 copies shipped) on December 12, 2007, by the
has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
On April 19, 2008, Clarkson participated in a Papal Youth Rally at
the campus of St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie in Yonkers, New York
performing a mini-concert for those in attendance. This was the Papal
Visit of Pope Benedict XVI. She performed Schubert's "Ave Maria" for the
Pope later in the day following the Pope's speech. Clarkson, raised
Baptist, was said to be honoured by the invitation and appreciative of
the rosary given to her and her band by the Pope, who were invited over
by the Pope immediately following the performance for the rosary honor.
2009–present: All I Ever Wanted
Clarkson's fourth album, All I Ever Wanted, was released March
10, 2009. During recording of the album, Clarkson worked closely with
producer-songwriters Ryan Tedder, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Howard
Benson, among others. The album’s recording was completed on October 23,
The first single off the album, "My Life Would Suck Without
You", was sent to radio on January 13, 2009, and was available to
download thereafter. The single first entered the Billboard Hot 100 at
#97. The following week, the single shot to #1, breaking the record of
largest leap to the top spot, formerly held by Britney Spears' "Womanizer"
This marks the second time Clarkson has broken the record, her first
being the American Idol victory ballad "A Moment Like This",
which shot from #52 to #1 in 2002. In March 2009, Kelly reached #1 in
the UK singles chart with 'My Life Would Suck Without You'. This is
Kelly's first UK #1 single. In its first week of sales, it moved 255,000
copies in the USA, and debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200, the
album sold 90,000 copies in its second week and remained at #1.
The album's second single is "I Do Not Hook Up".
It was sent to the
Australia and US Radio on March 30, 2009 and April 13, 2009
respectively. The music video was scheduled to release on April 20, 2009
but was leaked out to the internet on April 18, 2009. RCA Records has
seized videos of I Do Not Hook Up due to copyright infringement on April
21, 2009. It debuted in the 'Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100' at #20.
It slowly climbed up to #9. Slowly, it entered the Billboard Hot 100
charts at #88.
Clarkson performed "What Hurts the Most", with Rascal Flatts, at ACM
Awards in 2006 and returned again to sing a duet with Reba McEntire in
2007. This was her second performance on a country music award show,
even though she is in the pop/rock genre. Along with her performance
with Rascal Flatts, Clarkson also performed "Cigarettes", with the
country duo The Wreckers during one of their shows in Texas.
Building on her country music status, Clarkson and Reba McEntire
recorded an hour-long CMT Crossroads special at Nashville's famed
Ryman Auditorium on February 22, 2007. It aired on CMT and Palladia
(then known as MHD) on June 24, 2007. Previously, Clarkson was a
performer on CMT's Giants: Reba McEntire. where she sang
McEntire's hit song "Why Haven't I Heard From You", introduced Dolly
Parton, and later also sang Reba's hit "Does He Love You" with Martina
McBride. Clarkson also appeared on an episode of McEntire's sitcom
Reba, that aired on January 14, 2007.
At the Academy of Country Music Awards on May 16, 2007, Clarkson and
McEntire sang a duet of Clarkson's own 2005 single, "Because of You",
which also became the lead single from McEntire's album of all-star
duets. The music video
for this version of the song later debuted on June 20, 2007. This
collaboration with McEntire earned Clarkson a CMA Award nomination for
"Musical Event of the Year" in 2007 and a Grammy Award nomination for
"Best Country Collaboration With Vocal" in 2008. Additionally, the song
was featured on Now That's What I Call Country, which was
released in August 2008.
Clarkson was a surprise guest at the 2007 CMA Music Festival in
Nashville on June 7, 2007, where she performed "Does He Love You" and
"Because of You" with Reba McEntire during the internationally-renowned
annual event. The performance of "Because of You" was taped and aired as
part of the "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night To Rock" television
special that aired on ABC on July 23, 2007.
On January 17, 2008, Clarkson embarked on the 2 Worlds, 2 Voices Tour
2008, a co-headlining tour with Reba McEntire.
On May 18, 2008, Clarkson performed on stage at the Academy of
Country Music Awards All-Star Jam with Reba McEntire and Ronnie Dunn of
Brooks and Dunn. The All-Star jam is the final event of the week taking
place immediately after the awards show. Clarkson was not announced
ahead of time for an appearance. Images of the performance can be found
on various news outlets and fan sites.
- 2003: Thankful
- 2004: Breakaway
- 2007: My December
- 2009: All I Ever Wanted
||Film / Show
||Sabrina the Teenage Witch
||That 80's Show
||From Justin to Kelly
||King of the Hill
||Saturday Night Live
||Saturday Night Live
On April 25, 2007, Clarkson appeared on Idol Gives Back and performed
Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain". After the performance, the
audience who watched Clarkson perform live gave her a standing ovation.
American Idol judge Simon Cowell described her as "incredible",
saying, "When you let her [Clarkson] come back on the show it makes
everybody else look like an amateur."
In addition to her roles as spokeswoman for the acne treatment
Proactiv as well as vitaminwater, Clarkson partnered with NASCAR for the
2007 season. She appeared in televised advertising spots, performed at
pre-race concerts, promoted NASCAR Day, and appeared at the Champions'
Banquet in December.
The August 2007 issue of Blender included a feature on Clarkson
and her new album, as well as her music label woes
Clarkson also appeared at the NFL's opening night performance in
Indianapolis for the kickoff of the new season.
Clarkson also performed at half-time during the 2007 Thanksgiving Day
football game between the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys.
In 2005, Clarkson made a performance during the 2005 NBA All-Star
Weekend as part of the festivities leading up to the All-Star Game
Later that year, she performed the Star-Spangled Banner at Game 2 of the
NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons She also
performed that spring as part of the 2005 NCAA Final Four festivities in
St. Louis, Missouri.
Clarkson performed during the festivities of the 2006 Winter Olympics
in Torino, Italy.
Kelly also performed the National Anthem at the Opening of the New
Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2009