Kelly Brianne Clarkson (born April 24, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter and occasional actress. Born in Fort Worth and raised in Burleson, Texas, Clarkson came into prominence after becoming the winner of the inaugural season of the television series American Idol in 2002 and later becoming the runner-up in the television special World Idol in 2003.
Clarkson was immediately signed to RCA Records by talent manager Simon Fuller and music mogul Clive Davis after winning 'American Idol', and released a double A-side single "Before Your Love"/"A Moment Like This" in 2002. Upon its release, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart by breaking the record for the biggest jump to number 1 in the chart's history and eventually became the best-selling single of 2002 in the United States. In 2003, Clarkson released her debut album Thankful, containing elements of a pop and contemporary R&B sound, which became a commercial success. Its first single, "Miss Independent", became an international hit, earning Clarkson her first Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Having parted ways with Fuller in 2004, Clarkson developed a more rock-oriented sound with the release of her second album, Breakaway under the management of Jeff Kwatinetz. The album became a critical and commercial success with its international hit singles "Breakaway", "Since U Been Gone", "Behind These Hazel Eyes", and Because of You, becoming her most successful album to date with over 12 million copies sold.
In 2007, Clarkson took full creative direction with the release of her self-produced third album My December. Despite the album's lack of mainstream production input, it debuted at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was voted the fifth best album by the readers of Billboard. Its lead single, "Never Again" became a top 10 hit and has since sold over one million digital downloads. In 2009, Clarkson returned to a more mainstream-oriented sound with her fourth studio album, All I Ever Wanted, which became a critical and commercial success. Its worldwide hit single, "My Life Would Suck Without You", surpassed "Before Your Love"/"A Moment Like This" for the biggest leap to number one on a single week in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, a record it still holds today. In 2011, Clarkson followed up All I Ever Wanted with the R&B, country-pop and dance-pop-inspired Stronger, which became a commercial success. It generated international chart-topping singles, including "Mr. Know It All," and "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)", which is currently the best selling American Idol single to date - the song has sold 3.8 million copies in the U.S. alone. In October 2012, she released "Catch My Breath" as the first single off of "Greatest Hits: Chapter One", which was released in November 2012. She also released a country duet with Vince Gill titled "Don't Rush" as a single after performing it on the 2012 CMA Awards.
Aside from her renowned title as the "Original American Idol", Clarkson is also widely known for her voice, vocal versatility, and heroine image. Her music has mainly dealt with themes of heartbreak, independence, and self-empowerment for women and young teens. Apart from her work in music, Clarkson also ventured to television and film. Clarkson's film debut in the romantic musical From Justin to Kelly (2003) was met with mediocre success. She appeared in various television series such as American Dreams and Reba, and became a guest mentor on The Voice. In a career spanning a decade, Clarkson has become the most successful Idol contestant internationally with album sales of over 25 million and singles sales of over 36 million worldwide, according to Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan. Clarkson's musical work has also gained her numerous accolades, including two Grammy Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards, four American Music Awards and a Women's World Award. Billboard also ranked Clarkson as the 14th-best-selling artist of the 2000s, as well as also being ranked on the top 200 album sellers of the Nielsen SoundScan era at number 187. In Summer 2012, she was a mentor and judge on the TV series Duets.