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Kelly Clarkson
She was the first American Idol winner and now Kelly Clarkson is back with her second album Breakaway. The Record traces her journey as she went from choir singer to super singer.

As a young girl growing up in Texas, Kelly Clarkson had been singing to herself all her life. It only came to the attention of others when at age thirteen a teacher noticed Kelly singing to herself in the corridor of her high school and encouraged her to join the school choir. Says Kelly, “Nobody really realized I had a talent until I got in there. My teacher really pushed me since I was behind everyone else who had been doing it since 4th grade. From there on, I had a niche.” That classical training through choir helped her develop her voice and adapt it to different styles of music. Kelly immersed herself in choral activities throughout high school, and developed her talent quickly. Before long she was taking part in state and regional competitions, while earning a living as a waitress, pharmacy assistant, working in a movie theatre and even at the zoo.

After she graduated, Kelly knew that she had to give music one concentrated shot. Her childhood dream to be a marine biologist would have to be put on hold. She began sending out her demo tape trying to get into the music industry. Frustrated with the lack of response, she decided to move to where all the action was – Los Angeles. There Kelly worked odd jobs to finance her musical dream, even getting a role as an extra on the TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch. After answering a newspaper ad, she got together with famed songwriter Gerry Goffin (You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman) and began recording vocal demos of his songs. Just when things were finally looking up for her, it all turned around again. Goffin grew ill, and to make matters worse, Kelly’s apartment burned down. The young singer returned home to Texas with nothing. It was her best friend Jessica who was determined for Kelly not to give up and suggested she try out for American Idol. Kelly knew nothing about it. She says, “I went and tried out for fun and here I am!”

In May 2002 Kelly succeeded in the Dallas auditions for American Idol and made her way to Hollywood with 120 other contestants. She then performed live every week for ten weeks to an audience of 25 million on one of America’s most successful TV shows. In the grand finale she received 57% of the votes. On the 4th of September 2002 Kelly was crowned the first American Idol.

Ecstatic from her victory, Kelly joined the final ten contestants from the show for the American Idol Tour, a thirty date, seven week arena tour across the US playing to over 200,000 fans. In January, Kelly took her first steps into another world of entertainment – the movies. She began filming her first feature film, a romantic-comedy-musical called From Justin to Kelly. The film was shot in South Florida in just six weeks. Said Kelly, “This is an amazing opportunity. One day I would like to work behind the cameras too producing my own work.” After filming was completed Kelly went straight to the studio to finish recording her debut album. The album was called Thankful and debuted in 2003 at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. With songs like A Moment Like This and the anthemic Miss Independent it was no surprise that the album was soon awarded platinum status. Said Kelly, “I’m not materialistic, but I am ambitious. There is so much ahead of me and I’m really grateful for that. It all seems to be happening so quickly that it’s hard to stop and think. For now, I’m just glad to be in this position and to be able to have a job where I use my singing voice every day.”

You can read the rest of our feature on Kelly Clarkson in the February 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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