Singer, songwriter. Born Kelly Brianne Clarkson on April 24, 1982 in Burleson, 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.
After grueling rounds of televised eliminations, and critical evaluations by judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, 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.
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.” And Clarkson went on to establish herself as a leading rock performer 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 Albuman 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 professional songwriters as she had in the past and filled the record with 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 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 some 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 also said that Davis has been a key advisor and . . . an important force in my success. . . He has also given me respect by releasing my new album when he was not obligated to do so.
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” catpulted from No. 52 to No. 1. The album also made it to No. 1 in the U.S., selling 255,000 copies in its first week.