***Kelly Clarkson***Kelly Brianne Clarkson (born April 24, 1982) is an American pop rock singer-songwriter and actress. Clarkson rose to fame after winning the inaugural season of the television series American Idol in 2002 and would later become the runner-up in the television special World Idol in 2003.
Clarkson has released four albums to date under RCA Records: her multi-platinum debut album Thankful (2003) (which was nominated for a Grammy Award), her multi-platinum second album Breakaway (2004) (which won two Grammy Awards and sold more than 12 million copies worldwide), her platinum third album My December (2007), and her latest album All I Ever Wanted (2009) (which was nominated for a Grammy Award). Her albums have sold over 10.6 million copies in the United States. Clarkson is the only American Idol contestant to have reached number one in the UK. She claimed number one on March 1, 2009, when "My Life Would Suck Without You" debuted number one on downloads alone. Clarkson is also ranked on the top 200 album sellers of the Nielsen SoundScan era at number 187. Eleven of Clarkson's singles became Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. She has two number one singles in the Billboard Hot 100 to date.Her single, "My Life Would Suck Without You", advanced from No. 97 to No. 1 on the Hot 100 in its first week of release, breaking the record for the largest leap to the top position in chart history. "My Life Would Suck Without You" is also the only song by an Idol alum to top the Hot 100 chart that is not associated with the show.
Clarkson has toured extensively worldwide as a solo act. She has performed in other versions of American Idol such as Pop Idol, Swedish Idol, Canadian Idol, Australian Idol, as well as other singing competitions such as The X Factor and Superstar K. After Clarkson's appearance on the CMT Crossroads and her duet version of "Because of You" (2007) with Reba McEntire, they co-headlined the 2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour (2008). As of 2009, her solo version of "Because of You" (2005) is the biggest single from an American Idol album, with sales of seven million singles worldwide. In December 2009, Billboard ranked "Because of You" as the seventh most successful pop song of the decade. Billboard named Clarkson the "most successful American Idol of all time", factoring in album sales, singles sales, and radio plays. Billboard ranked Clarkson the #14 artist of the 2000-10 decade. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Clarkson is the highest-selling Idol winner worldwide, with around 36 million singles and 25 million albums sold around the world.
Early lifeClarkson 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 English teacher of Greek descent, and Stephen Michael Clarkson, a former engineer of Irish and Welsh extraction.
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."
2002–03: American Idol and World Idol
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. 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.
2003–04: ThankfulShortly following the completion of the first season of American Idol, Clarkson was accused of working with a record company. American Idol's rules stated that a contestant was not allowed to compete on the program if they had been linked to a record company. However, she was cleared of all allegations, as she only had a contract in order to conduct demonstration work.
Following the release of "A Moment Like This", Clarkson's full-length debut album Thankful was released in North America by RCA Records on April 15, 2003. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album was certified double platinum by the RIAA for sales of two million copies on December 8, 2003 and platinum by the CRIA for sales of 100,000 copies on February 10, 2004. Thankful peaked at number forty-one on the UK albums chart and at number 33 on the Australian albums chart.
Reviews for the album were generally favorable. However, several critics noted that her early achievement was established due to her performances on American Idol. Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the album for its vocal ability: "throughout this record, [Clarkson] makes it seem effortless and charming. She can croon, she can belt out a song, she can be sexy and sassy while still being graceful and as wholesome as the girl next door". Rachel Kipp of JS Online criticized Clarkson for not having the same personality on Thankful that she had on American Idol, and wrote: "on American Idol, Clarkson showcased a great voice and an endearing, 'aw-shucks' personality. That personality is missing on Thankful, and there lies the album's greatest fault". Kipp blamed the producers behind the album for not allowing Clarkson to be herself. Clarkson covered Danielle Brisebois' "Just Missed the Train" on the album.
"Miss Independent" was released as the second single from Thankful. It reached the top ten of the U.S. and Canadian singles charts, and earned Clarkson a 2004 Grammy Award nomination for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance". When the single was released in the United Kingdom and Australia, it reached the top ten of the charts. "Low", the third single from Thankful, reached number two in Canada, but it was unable to make the top 40 of the U.S. chart. The final single, "The Trouble with Love Is", was not released in Canada, and it failed to chart in the U.S..