Kelly Clarkson was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 24, 1982, to Jeanne Ann Taylor, a first grade English teacher, and Michael Clarkson, a former engineer. Kelly is of both Welsh and Greek ancestry.
Kelly has a brother, Jason, and a sister, Alyssa. Kelly's parents separated when she was 6 years old, and her brother went to live with her father, her sister went to live with an aunt and she stayed with her mother.
Kelly's family moved around a lot so her mother could sustain jobs in order to support them. Eventually, they settled in Burleson, Texas, where her mother remarried.
When she entered seventh grade, Kelly attended Pauline Hughes Middle School. Her original dream was to become a marine biologist, but a teacher heard her singing in the hallway one day and encouraged her to audition for the choir.
It was then that Kelly's exceptional voice began to garner attention. When entering Burleson High School, she performed in various musicals.
In 2000, Kelly graduated from high school, and worked several jobs to finance a demo recording. She worked to market her CD to record labels, but received little response.
She then decided to move to Hollywood to continue to pursue opportunities in music. She managed to land a mentorship under songwriter Gerry Goffin, but he soon fell ill, and Kelly had to take various jobs to pay the bills, including being a television extra on shows like "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and performing in independent films.
After four months in Hollywood, Kelly got discouraged and went back to Texas, where she worked as a cocktail waitress, a telemarketer and a Red Bull promoter.
When Kelly returned to Texas, people began to encourage her to audition for the reality show "American Idol." She went up against thousands of other contestants, but the judges were impressed with her voice and she stayed in the competition, winning over the Americans watching the show and voting from home.
Kelly was soon in the final two, along with Justin Guarini, and on Sept. 4, 2002, she won, receiving 58 percent of audience votes.
A tearful Kelly sang the song "A Moment Like This," which was written specifically for the "American Idol" winner and would later appear on her debut album, "Thankful."
When the song was released as a single in 2002, it set a record that still stands, rising from No. 52 on the Billboard chart to No. 1. Kelly's official prize for winning "American Idol" was a $1 million record contact with RCA.
In December 2003, a competition called "World Idol" was held in England, gathering the winners of the first seasons of "Idol" from all over the world. Kelly placed second behind the Norwegian idol winner Kurt Nilsen. She sang Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman."
On April 14, 2002, Kelly's debut album "Thankful" was released in North America. It debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and Canadian charts.
In 2003 it was certified double platinum for 2 million copies and platinum in 2004 for sales of 100,000.
"Miss Independent" was released as the second single from the album, and it reached the Top 10 on the charts in the United States and Canada. It also won her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
The last two singles released from the album, "Low" and "The Trouble With Love Is," failed to do as well, and Kelly ended up firing her manager, Simon Fuller.
After her win on "American Idol," Kelly starred with Justin Guarini in a feature film, "From Justin to Kelly," which failed as a commercial success.
Kelly's second album "Breakaway" was released in November 2004. This album was hailed as more musically creative and as having a stronger rock influence than her first album, which was clearly pop.
It debuted within the U.S. top five and Canadian Top 10, but sales were initially low compared to "Thankful."
The singles released from the album, however, were very successful. The album was certified five times platinum in the U.S. and quadruple platinum in Canada. The single "Breakaway" was the original song for the movie, "Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement."
The second single, "Since U Been Gone," was the most successful release from the album. It reached No. 2 in the U.S. and the top five in many other countries. It also earned Kelly two Grammys that year: best female pop vocal performance and best pop vocal album.
The third and fourth singles, "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "Because of You," were also successful.
Kelly's third album, titled "My December" was released in June 2007. Some deemed the album "harsh" and "angry," and sales were slim compared to her last album "Breakaway."
Clarkson landed headlines before the album's release because of a clash she had with music mogul Clive Davis. Kelly reportedly insisted on recording her own songs for the album, while Davis pushed for songs written by other artists.
She called Davis and those at the BMG/RCA label liars, but later retracted her statements by saying that Davis was a strong force behind her current success.
Released: April 15, 2003
Released: November 30, 2004
Released: June 26, 2007