Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in the small town of Burleson, a suburb of Fort Worth. She is the third and youngest child of Jeanne Rose, a first grade teacher, and Stephen Michael Clarkson. Clarkson’s siblings include her older brother and sister, Jason and Alyssa. When Clarkson was six years old, her parents divorced after seventeen years of marriage. The family settled in Burleson, where Clarkson’s mother married her second husband, Jimmy Taylor.
Clarkson’s family struggled financially, and after her parents divorced, music became her refuge. Clarkson attended Pauline G Hughes Middle School and Burleson High School. She wanted to become a marine biologist but changed her mind after seeing the movie Jaws. 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 training.
In high school, Clarkson performed in musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Brigadoon. She sang at her high school talent show, after which an audience member shared some inspiring words with her: “God has given you this gift. You’ve got to sing. You’re destined to sing.” Clarkson continued singing and soon started classical training, hoping that music would be her ticket to a college scholarship.
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.”
Kelly Clarkson Bio
Clarkson won the first season of American Idol on September 4, 2002, earning 58% of the vote to 42% for runner-up 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. When 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. Kelly Clarkson performed at the Washington D.C. Lincoln Memorial on September 11, 2002 following her win on American Idol. In December 2003, a competition titled World Idol was held in London, England, 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 criticized by some in the media for what they saw as poor sportsmanship. Clarkson later explained to fans that she was not feeling well.
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 rock”. Stylus 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”
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