Ms. Kelly Clarkson‘s rise to the top has sure been a fun ride, hasn’t it?
The first winner of FOX’s now defunct American Idol during the summer of 2002, Kelly Clarkson basically went from an anonymous talent to a nationally known diva in just a few short months, performing live for an audience of millions. One of AI‘s most naturally gifted chanteuses, the Texan girlfriend has since gone on to enjoy a successful pop career, with only Ms. Carrie Underwood rivaling her as American Idol’s most successful singing sensation.
Born in Fort Worth and raised in Burleson, Texas, Kelly’s soaring vocal abilities were discovered early on in seventh grade, when her music teacher heard that voice and urged the pint-sized Clarkson to join the school choir. After high school, the diva decided to skip college and went to Hollywood to make a name for herself, but her biggest achievement was only as performing as an extra on an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Soon, Clarkson returned to Texas where she worked at a movie theater, as well as a Red Bull energy drinks promoter. Can you imagine? Yes.
Once Idol came calling, being just one of 10,000 aspiring singers, Clarkson quickly established herself not only with her big, booming mature voice, but also for her down home sense of humor. (Remember at one of her auditions when she switched places with judge Randy Jackson, who did an impromptu version of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly?” Priceless.) Over the course of the grueling 13-week singing competition, her consistently strong performances of classic tracks like “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” “Stuff Like That There,” notched Ms. Thing enough audience votes to claim one of the contest’s two finalist positions. But after shattering all the glassware in the place with her debut ditties, “A Moment Like This” and “Before Your Love,” it was clear to America who their first American Idol winner was–Ms. Kelly Clarkson.
Released just two weeks after taking home the Idol prize, her first official single, “A Moment Like This,” leaped from #88 to #1, and would set the bar perfectly for her first full-length, Thankful, which also gave us hits, “Miss Independent,” “Low,” and “The Trouble With Love Is, ” which would also be predominately featured on the Love Actually soundtrack. And there was From Justin to Kelly! Sigh…
Eager for us to wash away the pain from that movie, Kelly released her sophomore set, Breakaway, which went on to become a smashing success, selling over five million copies and making us live for singles, “Because of You,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” the title-track, (Princess Diaries 2 anyone?), and everyone’s favorite karaoke anthem, “Since U Been Gone.” In fact “Gone” and the rest of the Breakaway set earned Clarkson Grammys for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in early 2006.
However, when it came time to cook up her third set, My December, Clarkson went into a more dark-and-twisty direction, serving us with a more rock-tinged, moodier sound, which would also became Clarkson’s first sashay into songwriting. Clarkson’s label exec Clive Davis openly disapproved of the album’s direction, claiming that the record lacked the commercial appeal of Breakaway. As we all know, that infamous public feud soon ensued, and Clarkson was dealt yet another blow when poor ticket sales resulted in the cancellation of her upcoming December tour. But it wasn’t all music shade–lead single “Never Again” became a Top Ten pop hit, and My December eventually climbed its way to platinum status by the year’s end. Meaning, you can have a row of seats, Mr. Davis.
Two years later, Clarkson returned to the top of the pop diva game, dishing out cotton candy laced single “My Life Would Suck Without You,” which would also set a record for the largest leap to number one, soaring from #99 to #1. Cooked up by songwriting and producing super-humans, Max Martin, Lukasz Gottwald, and Claude Kelly, “Suck” would also liven up the stage for her fourth set, All I Ever Wanted, which would return the songstress back to her more “audience friendly” pop roots. A similar minded follow-up, Stronger, would be released in 2011, which featured the delightfully subdued, “Mr. Know It All,” as well as the album’s soaring title anthem, which gave Ms. Kel her third hot 100 #1 smash.
This year, the diva has not only been working overtime touring in support of her delightful Piece by Piece set, but she’s also become a working mommy to daughter River Rose, with yet another music bun in the oven. By now, it’s safe to say that if there’s any diva out there right now who could care less about the fame and fortune and continues to serve us with constant music life, it’s certainly Ms. Clarkson…and that’s what really makes a true winning diva.