Kelly Clarkson Biography and Profile

Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson. Photo by D Dipasupil / Getty Images

Birth and Early Career of Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson was born April 24, 1982 in Burleson, Texas. At age 13 she was singing in the halls of her middle school when the choir teacher heard her and asked her to audition for the choir. Clarkson was successful as a singer in school and moved to Los Angeles after high school graduation to pursue a career in music. She appeared as an extra on the TV show Sabrina, Teenage Witch but her acting career went no further.

Top Kelly Clarkson Pop Singles

  • 2002 - "A Moment Like This" #1
  • 2003 - "Miss Independent" #9
  • 2004 - "Breakaway" #6
  • 2004 - "Since U Been Gone" #1
  • 2005 - "Behind These Hazel Eyes" #3
  • 2005 - "Because Of You" #2
  • 2006 - "Walk Away" #6
  • 2007 - "Never Again" #5
  • 2009 - "My Life Would Suck Without You" #1
  • 2011 - "Mr. Know It All" #10
  • 2012 - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" #1
  • 2015 - "Piece By Piece" #8

American Idol

After her Los Angeles apartment was destroyed in a fire, Kelly Clarkson returned to Burleson, Texas. After urging by one of her closest friends, she decided to enter the first American Idol talent search with 10,000 other hopefuls. Her strong, confident voice and friendly, disarming personality helped propel Clarkson to victory and a $1,000,000 recording contract with RCA Records.


With the enormous publicity from her American Idol victory at her back, Kelly Clarkson's first single "A Moment Like This" reached the top of the pop chart in its first week of release.

Remaining true to her "girl next door" personality, she chose to remain living in Texas instead of moving to either coast. In the spring of 2003, Kelly Clarkson followed up on her hit single by releasing Thankful, a full-length album. The album was an impressively varied pop collection that endeared the star to a young audience.

"Miss Independent," the first single from the album, was another top 10 hit.

Breakaway and Breakthrough to Stardom

For her second album Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson asserted more artistic control and introduced a rock edge to many of the songs. The results turned her into a pop superstar. Released in November, 2004, the album sold over 6 million copies in the US and the single "Since U Been Gone" went to the top of the pop singles chart garnering accolades from a wide range of pop and rock critics and fans. The single "Because of You" touched many listeners with its themes of family dysfunction. Music from the album earned two Grammy Awards including Best Pop Vocal Album.

Kelly Clarkson's December

Kelly Clarkson began work on her third album, My December, while still on tour. With critics and fans alike eagerly awaiting the new project, she took a turn in an even more intense rock direction and laid bare difficult and disturbing emotions and experiences. A lack of radio-friendly pop singles created discord with Clarkson's record company, including reported conflict with executive Clive Davis, and, despite strong critical praise, the album's sales were anemic when it hit stores in June 2007.

My December only produced one top 10 pop hit, the lead single "Never Again."

A Little Bit Country

In the wake of controversy and disappointment surrounding My December, Kelly Clarkson turned in the direction of country music and collaboration with country superstar Reba McEntire. The pair went on a major national tour together and Clarkson signed with Starstruck Entertainment, a company run by McEntire's husband, for management. By June 2008 Kelly Clarkson confirmed online that she was working on material for a 4th album.

All I Ever Wanted and a Return to Pop-Rock

Many of those closely watching Kelly Clarkson's career expected her fourth album may indeed be country music. However, she instead turnied back to something more like her smash pop breakthrough album Breakaway. The first single, "My Life Would Suck Without You," entered pop radio on January 16, 2009, and the album All I Ever Wanted followed with a March release.

"My Life Would Suck Without You" became Kelly Clarkson's second #1 hit single and All I Ever Wanted topped the album chart. Two additional top 40 pop hits followed from the collection, "I Do Not Hook Up" and "Already Gone."  The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.


Kelly Clarkson released her fifth studio album Stronger in October 2011. She mentioned Prince, Tina Turner, and the rock band Radiohead as influences. The title song "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" hit #1 on the pop singles chart and became the biggest hit single of Kelly Clarkson's career. It earned strong praise from critics for its themes of personal redemption. The album became Kelly Clarkson's first to sell over a million copies since Breakaway in 2004. The album Stronger won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album and the single "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" earned Kelly Clarkson's first nomination for Record of the Year.

In 2012 Kelly Clarkson released her greatest hits collection. It has been certified gold for sales and included the top 20 charting single "Catch My Breath." She followed it with her first holiday album Wrapped In Red in 2013. The Christmas theme and the concept of red unified the album, but it was sonically diverse dipping into influences from jazz, country, and R&B music. Wrapped In Red was a success becoming the top charting holiday album of 2013 and one of the top 20 the following year. It earned a platinum certification for sales and the single "Underneath the Tree" topped the adult contemporary chart.

Piece By Piece

Kelly Clarkson's seventh studio album Piece By Piece was released in February 2015. It was the final album under Kelly Clarkson's contract with RCA signed when she won American Idol. Despite strong positive critical reviews, the album was initially a commercial disappointment. The lead single "Heartbeat Song" was her first lead single from a non-holiday studio album to fail to reach the pop top 10. The album debuted at #1 but quickly faded in sales figures. In February 2016, a year after the album's release, Kelly Clarkson returned to the live stage in American Idol's final season and performed "Piece By Piece," the title song from the album. Her dramatic performance earned strong critical acclaim and blasted the song into the pop top 10 reaching #8 on the chart. It also helped the album have its best sales week since the initial release. Music from Piece By Piece earned two Grammy Award nominations including Kelly Clarkson's fourth Best Pop Vocal Album nomination.

In June 2016, Kelly Clarkson announced that she had signed a new recording contract with Atlantic Records.