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artists > kelly clarkson

kelly clarkson

Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982, in the small town of Burleson, Texas. Two factors contributed in setting her on the path to stardom. First, the movie Jaws deterred her from her childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist. Second, a teacher at Pauline Hughes Middle School heard Clarkson singing in the hallway, recognized her talent, and encouraged her to join the choir. Thirteen years old at the time, Kelly was a singing fiend from there on out.

A regular in choral activities, Clarkson was also granted a spot in the Texas All-State Choir. Her talent drew much attention, and after graduating from high school, she set out to sell herself to record labels. She had some demos made, but despite all her efforts she could not land a deal. So, she decided to head west and try her luck in Los Angeles, after having saved enough money from odd jobs as a pharmacy assistant, telemarketer, comedy club cocktail waitress, and at a movie theater and the zoo.

Did the land of showbiz opportunity give Clarkson her first taste of success? Well, yes and no. She put forth typical effort in searching for work, and landed a job as an extra on the television show Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. In a mild stroke of luck for the development of her singing career, she answered a newspaper ad looking for female vocalists and found herself working with famous songwriter Gerry Goffin.

In spite of these signs of progress, Clarkson was having a hard time finding work and became discouraged. After Mr. Goffin became ill, her roommate moved out and her apartment burned down, she decided she had had enough, and went back to Texas -- broke and discouraged -- to regroup.

Back in Burleson, Clarkson felt revitalized. She found a solid day job as a promoter for Red Bull energy drinks in order to help pay the bills. Her dream, of course, persisted, even if she did not have any high-paying gigs or record contracts. Then one day, a friend told her about the new television program American Idol, a singing contest where the public votes for the winner. Kelly signed up with no particularly high expectations; she was, after all, going to be up against 10,000 contestants.

Clarkson floored the judges right from her audition, where she sang a version of Aretha Franklin's "Respect," which has gone on to become Clarkson's signature song. To her surprise, Kelly found herself among the final 30 contestants. Along the way she realized that she really wanted to win -- apparently, she experienced a sort of epiphany while singing Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." Perhaps this motivation gave her voice the added strength and conviction that helped propel her into the finals.

Fans loved her, and so, noticeably, did the judges. Judge Paula Abdul, a former pop star herself, said she had the "triple threat" -- that is, promise in singing, television and film. But the more impressive comment came from the notoriously critical British judge Simon Cowell, who told her, "there's no question about it... you are the best singer on this show."

Kelly Clarkson won the American Idol contest on September 4, 2002, earning 58% of the vote over Justin Guarini, the other finalist. Her official prize was a million-dollar RCA record contract; the unofficial prize a considerable amount of fame and notoriety. On October 5th, 2002, her first single, "A Moment Like This," went from No. 52 to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, a new "leap to number one" record (previously held by the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" in 1964, which went from No. 27 to No. 1). Meanwhile, she was offered a multimillion-dollar movie contract for a feature showcasing the range of talents possessed by her and Guarini, entitled From Justin to Kelly.

Whether or not the "American Idol" is a lasting position has yet to be determined. Good indications will be the success of the film, due in April 2003, and of Kelly's debut album, whose most recent release date is slated for March 2003. Judging from the adoration her voice and charisma have already earned her, it is fairly safe to say that she will stick around a long time for us to idolize.

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