Kelly Clarkson's biggest career moments

Has it really been nearly two decades since we were first introduced to powerhouse vocalist Kelly Clarkson?! In honor of the acclaimed talk show host and singer’s 39th birthday on April 24, 2021, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at Kelly’s life and career in photos. Keep reading for more…

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Kelly Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982, in Fort Worth, Texas, to Jeanne Ann Rose and Stephen Michael Clarkson. Her parents, who had two older kids, divorced when she was 6 — her father was not a part of her life, a fact Kelly later sang about in her heartbreaking hit song “Because of You.” She moved to Los Angeles in an effort to kickstart her music career in 2001 but soon returned to Burleson, Texas, where she worked an eclectic array of jobs to support herself. Soon, however, she was back in the City of Angels, where she in 2002 competed on the first season of “American Idol,” a new singing competition show that aired on FOX.

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Kelly Clarkson’s life changed forever on Sept. 4, 2002, when she was crowned the very first winner of “American Idol,” besting runner-up Justin Guarini. The 20-year-old took everyone’s breath away with her performance of three songs that night including “A Moment Like This,” which became her first single.

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Less than two weeks after winning “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson’s first single, “A Moment Like This,” debuted on the airwaves, and after just three weeks, it hit No. 1 on the Billboard 100. It went on to become the bestselling single of the year. Kelly closed out the year performing at major radio station’s 2002 year-end shows including the Z100 Jingle Ball Holiday Concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City that December (seen here).

Kelly Clarkson’s successes kept coming at an incredible speed. On April 15, 2003, her debut studio album, “Thankful,” dropped at reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album included songs like “A Moment Like This” and “Before Your Love” from her “American Idol” finale performance as well as the hit single “Miss Independent,” which rose to No. 1 on the Hot 100 singles chart and stayed there for six weeks. She’s seen here at the FOX Upfront presentation at Grand Central Station in New York City a month after her debut album’s release.

Although Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini’s 2003’s rom-com musical “From Justin To Kelly” was a certifiable bomb at the box office, it was also an important step in Kelly’s career. She proved she wasn’t afraid to take chances, even if her movie was panned by critics and viewers alike.

Less than a year after winning “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson had two hit singles on the airwaves and was already working on her next album. Making 2003 even sweeter? Kelly’s video for her song “Miss Independent” was nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards — best new artist, best pop video and the coveted viewer’s choice award. She’s seen here on the red carpet at the VMAs at Radio City Music Hall in New York City that August.

On Sept. 28, 2003, Kelly Clarkson added TV guest star to her ever-impressive list of accomplishments when she appeared on an episode of the musical-drama series “American Dreams.” Kelly donned a brunette bouffant and a smile to play Brenda Lee, a real-life vocalist from the 1960s. The following year, Kelly returned to the series once more as Brenda for the episode “Tidings of Comfort and Joy.”

By early 2004, Kelly Clarkson had joined an impressive club — she earned her first Grammy nomination, for best female pop vocal performance for her hit song “Miss Independent.” Although she ultimately lost to Norah Jones, it proved she was more than just a reality TV star. She’s seen here at the 2004 Grammys in Los Angeles that February.

2004 would be the year that marked one of Kelly Clarkson’s greatest career achievements, all thanks to the release of her second studio album, “Breakaway.” It featured some of Kelly’s biggest hit singles to date including “Since U Been Gone,” “Because of You” and the title track and went on to sell more than 12 million copies worldwide and earn platinum status in 17 countries. Not only was the album a commercial success — it was also a chart-topper, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard 200 at its peak and remaining in the top 20 for more than 61 consecutive weeks. She’s seen here closing out the year at Z100’s Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden in New York City that December.

Kelly Clarkson won two Moonman trophies on Aug. 8, 2005, at the MTV Video Music Awards for best female video and best pop video for “Since U Been Gone.” And no, that’s not the gleam of excited sweat you see on Kelly here — she was literally drenched from her VMAs performance, which included water streaming down on the stage.

2006 was the year Kelly Clarkson went from Grammy-nominated artist to two-time Grammy winner. At the 48th Annual Grammy Awards that February, Kelly won prizes for best pop vocal performance for her song “Since U Been Gone” and best pop vocal album for “Breakaway.”

In 2007, Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire recorded a duet of Kelly’s song “Because of You.” Not only did it pair Kelly with one of her country music idols, but it also scored the duo another chart-topping hit as their remake reached No. 2 on the Hot Country Billboard chart. That same year, Kelly also made a guest appearance on Reba’s self-titled comedy series. Fun fact: Years later in 2013, Kelly married Reba’s then-stepson, music manager Brandon Blackstock.

In March 2009, Kelly Clarkson released her fourth studio album, “All I Ever Wanted,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Its lead single, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” also topped the charts and made a dramatic climb from No. 97 to No. 1 in just one week. Kelly’s seen here performing during the Women’s World Awards Ceremony in Vienna, Austria, the same day her album dropped.

In 2010, Kelly Clarkson teamed up with country music star Jason Aldean to perform a duet of his song “Don’t You Wanna Stay” at the 44th Annual Country Music Association Awards. Their performance was so widely revered, it led the two to record a studio version of the song, which was later nominated for numerous awards. It won the best vocal event of the year prize at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2011. They’re seen here performing the hit song during the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in February 2012.

They say a Super Bowl performance can either make or break a star. Thankfully, Kelly Clarkson’s Feb. 5, 2012, delivery of the national anthem at Super Bowl XlVI in Indianapolis was so good, it only enhanced her reputation as an A-list vocalist.

Kelly Clarkson — seen here performing on “The Voice” in 2012 — appeared on the show earlier that year during season 2 as a contestant adviser and mentor for coach Blake Shelton’s team. She did four episodes of the series during her “Stronger” tour run to support her successful fifth studio album of the same name. But she’d soon be back for much more…

In 2013, Kelly Clarkson had to clear some room on her awards shelf after she took home yet another Grammy, this time for best pop vocal album for her chart-topping fifth studio album, “Stronger,” which included hits like “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “Mr. Know It All.” It reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum in the States.

Love is in the air! In 2012, Kelly Clarkson started dating talent manager Brandon Blackstock — who at the time was the stepson of her friend and former collaborator Reba McEntire (Reba later divorced Brandon’s father, talent manager Narvel Blackstock). The pair married a year later in October 2013 in Walland, Tennessee, and went on to welcome two children together: son Remington and daughter River. Kelly also became the stepmother to Brandon’s two children from his previous marriage. They’re pictured here at the 2013 Grammy Awards eight months before they tied the knot.

There’s a certain level of success any celebrity has to achieve before they can host their very own holiday special. On Dec. 11, 2013, Kelly Clarkson crossed that milestone when she hosted “Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Tale” on NBC. Featuring an all-star cast that included friend and music icon Reba McEntire, comedians Robin Williams and Ken Jeong, singer Natalie Cole and more, Kelly’s hour-long program included plenty of laughter, holiday cheer and melodic performances to make the season bright.

Following her marriage to Brandon Blackstock in 2013 and the birth of her first child, River Rose, in 2014, Kelly Clarkson was at the center of some unkind remarks about her body while touring in support of her seventh studio album, 2015’s “Piece By Piece.” The beautiful singer destroyed her critics, preaching a message of body positivity while performing hits like “Heartbeat Song” — a track that helped bring the album to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and earned her two Grammy nominations. Incidentally, the album marked the end of a long and often tumultuous relationship with RCA Records. Kelly is seen here in concert in Las Vegas in August 2015.

Did you know that Kelly Clarkson is also a New York Times bestselling author? In 2016 — the same year she gave birth to her second child, son Remington Alexander Blackstock — Kelly released the children’s book “River Rose and the Magical Lullaby,” which is named after her daughter, River Rose. Kelly’s whimsical tale is a lyrical lullaby that sends an excited little girl on a grand dream adventure. The following year, Kelly added a second holiday-themed book to the collection: “River Rose and the Magical Christmas.”

In 2017, Kelly Clarkson released her eighth studio album, “Meaning of Life,” which was her first with Atlantic Records and her first foray into soul and R&B music. Although it’s one of her lowest selling albums to date, it still managed to reach No. 2 on the Billboard 200. She’s seen here performing songs from the album at The Rainbow Room in New York City in September 2017, a month before it debuted.

Kelly Clarkson voiced Leah the horse in the 2017 animated big-screen Christmas adventure “The Star.” Joining an all-star cast of voices including Oprah Winfrey, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant and more, Kelly gave life to the lovable equine that witnessed the birth of the Messiah. It wasn’t Kelly’s first voice role, as she’d previously played an animated version of herself on an episode of the cartoon TV series “Phineas and Ferb” back in 2011.

After appearing on “The Voice” as a mentor and adviser in 2012, Kelly Clarkson did it again in 2017 during season 13. She then joined the NBC music competition series as one of the four coaches beginning with season 14 in 2018. Although her decision was initially perceived as a slight to “American Idol” — the show that made her a star — Kelly cleared the air by telling reporters she genuinely thought “Idol” was over (FOX aired a farewell season in 2016; ABC resurrected it in 2018) when she signed on for the rival series. Regardless of her motive, Kelly’s presence on the show served as a powerful reminder to contestants that winning a show like this could lead to superstardom. She’s been a wild success as a coach too: Her singers won seasons 14 and 15!

Family time! Kelly Clarkson, husband Brandon Blackstock and their children, River and Remington, are seen here at the Los Angeles premiere of “UglyDolls” — in which Kelly voices Moxy — in April 2019.

Since winning “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson has been on a nonstop journey forward in her personal and professional lives. In 2019, she focused on raising her family, touring behind her album “Meaning of Life” and coaching on “The Voice.” She’s seen here in concert that same year.

In September 2019, Kelly Clarkson began hosting her own talk show, “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” The daytime series was an instant hit thanks to Kelly’s grace, humor and charm. The show was so well received by fans and Hollywood alike that after just one season, Kelly won her first Daytime Emmy Award. In June 2020, she was named outstanding entertainment talk show host (her program was also nominated for outstanding entertainment talk show).

Hello, big screen! In April 2020, Kelly Clarkson voiced Delta Dawn (pictured) in the animated adventure “Trolls World Tour.” The film earned an impressive amount at the box office: a cool $47.9 million.

In June 2020, Kelly Clarkson filed divorce papers seeking to end her nearly seven-year marriage to her manager, Brandon Blackstock. As their split played out, things got nasty. Kelly and Brandon battled for custody of their two kids and the management company owned by Brandon’s father sued Kelly for unpaid commissions. As the year went on, she filed legal documents with the California Labor Commission claiming they defrauded her out of millions. While chatting with Gwyneth Paltrow on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in 2021, the “American Idol” alum commended the actress for discovering a way to find love again with second husband Brad Falchuk after the actress and Goop founder’s headline-making divorce from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. “You’ve been married for two years,” Kelly said. “Coming from someone who’s literally amidst a divorce, I can’t even imagine doing it again. So that’s amazing that you found love, and you found the space and the vulnerability, that level to say yes, and do it again.” Kelly and Brandon are seen here at the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards in January 2020 five months before they called it quits.

As for what’s on the horizon for Kelly Clarkson? In 2021, the daytime talk show host and singer — who returned as a coach for the 20th season of NBC’s “The Voice” — will be honored with her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She’s also set to drop her ninth studio album.

































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