American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson after winning the contest at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca., Sept. 4, 2002. (photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect)/Kelly Clarkson attends NBC's "American Song Contest" week five red carpet at Universal Studios Hollywood on April 18, 2022 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images)

Kelly Clarkson Through the Years: From 'American Idol' to Emmy-Winning Music Superstar

It's safe to say that Kelly Clarkson, also known as Kelly Brianne, is more than just a singer. She is a songwriter, actress, television personality, author, designer and a mom. Throughout her career she has proved how much of a pop star she is, selling over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. Clarkson has 11 top 10 singles in the United States and 9 top singles in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Not only that, but she became the first artist in history to top each of Billboard's pop, adult pop, country, adult contemporary and dance charts. She has received three MTV Video Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, American Music Awards, three Daytime Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards. Let's not forget her TV ventures, which include The Voice, The Kelly Clarkson Show and American Song Contest.

Seeing how much she has accomplished in only 39 years proves that if you work hard enough, you can do anything you set your mind to. Here's a look at how Clarkson became the ultimate superstar she is today.

American Idol

Justin Guarini, Tamrya Gray, Nikki Mckibbin, Kelly Clarkson, RJ Helton and Christina Christian from "American Idol"

Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Clarkson made history on Live TV after winning American Idol on September 4, 2002,  triumphing over runner-up Justin Guarini. After her win, Clarkson sang "A Moment Like This" during the ceremony, which ultimately became her lead debut single. The big win was a catalyst for her music career, which has now spanned two decades.

First Platinum

Kelly Clarkson performs "Miss Independent" during WomenRock! - LIFETIME Televsion Fifth Annual Signature Concert - Show at Wiltern LG Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States.

SGranitz/WireImage for Lifetime Television LA

Fast forward to a year, the star returned to the Idol stage and was presented with a platinum record for her first album, Thankful. The album became certified 2X platinum and has sold over 4.5 million copies to date worldwide. "A Moment Like This" initially sat at No. 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, climbing to No. 50 the following week and then going to No. 1.

Fun fact, it broke a 38-year-old record set by The Beatles for the biggest leap to No. 1. The song eventually went on to become the best-selling single of 2002 in the United States. The album is responsible for several hits including, "Miss Independent" which was certified gold by the RIAA. This earned her her first Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

From Justin to Kelly

Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini at FOX-TV's "American Idol" finals at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca. Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2002.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Clarkson made her film debut with fellow American Idol contestant, Guarini, releasing the musical romantic comedy film, From Justin to Kelly, in 2003. Both of the contestants were actually obligated to star in the movie as part of their contract with American Idol. The film didn't do that well and received negative reviews from critics, but despite the hiccup, this didn't stop Clarkson from making a name for herself.


Kelly Clarkson during KISS 108 FM Jingle Ball 2004 - Show at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, United States.

Marc Andrew Deley/FilmMagic

In 2004, the singer found her niche by bringing out the pop-rock anthems that everyone still belts now. The multi-platinum record included several of her hits, including "Because of You," "Behind These Hazel Eyes, and "Since You've Been Gone." The album would go on to win Best Pop Vocal Grammy and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Since U Been Gone."

"Because of You" became the American singer's biggest single worldwide reaching No. 1 on the European Hot 100 singles chart. In 2006, Clarkson was apparently the most played artist in the United States.

My December

Actor Nicolas Cage poses with singer Kelly Clarkson prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2007 in Daytona, Florida.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images for NASCAR

Fast forward to 2007, the singer released her third album, My December, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. This album had a little bit more of a rock edge, but her fans still couldn't get enough of her.

During this time there was some behind-the-scenes drama with her label Arista prior to the release of the album. About the situation, Clarkson told Elle, "I've sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say. I couldn't give a crap about being a star. I've always just wanted to sing and write."

In Comes Reba McEntire

Singer Reba McEntire (L) and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson perform during the "American Idol in Vegas" concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena September 18, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Bringing in the queen herself Reba McEntire, the two collaborated on "Because of You" in 2007. The song ended up receiving several awards, including a nomination for an Academy of Country Music Awards. Both singers went on tour together in 2008.

Throughout the years Clarkson has named McEntire as an inspiration for her career and we can see why. Who would have thought that she would have ended up marrying her stepson, Brandon Blackstock?

All I Ever Wanted

 Singers Taylor Swift, Ryan Tedder and Kelly Clarkson attend the 2009 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honoring Clive Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 7, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.

Lester Cohen/WireImage

Clarkson's fourth album All I Ever Wanted was released in March 2009 receiving critical acclaim and sold over a million copies in the United States. The album garnered the singer a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards.

The first single "My Life Would Suck Without You" hit No. 1 the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. Her second single, "Already Gone," which was co-written by Ryan Tedder, jumped to No. 1 on the Adult Pop Songs Chart becoming her longest leading song for a total of 8 weeks.

"Don't You Wanna Stay"

Musician Jason Aldean (L) and singer Kelly Clarkson accept the Single Record Of The Year Award for "Don't You Wanna Stay" onstage at the 47th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 1, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Continuing with the country roots, in 2011 she partnered up with Jason Aldean for his song "Don't You Wanna Stay." The song was so successful that it won an Academy of Country Music Award for Best Musical Event of The Year and Single of The Year and a Country Music Association award for Musical Event of the Year. This year she also collaborated with Vince Gill on his 2013 song "Don't Rush."

"Mr. Know It All"

Singer Kelly Clarkson (C) performs "Mr. Know It All" onstage at the 2011 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Clarkson went on to release her fifth studio album Stronger, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It won the Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards, quickly becoming the first artist to win the award twice. Its single "Mr. Know It All" became her ninth top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" was the second single and top 16 Billboard charts becoming her third No. 1 on the Hot 100. The song actually remains Clarkson's best-selling single with over 4.9 million copies in the United States alone. The song was nominated for three Grammy Awards Record of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year.

Clarkson Goes to the White House

U.S. President Barack Obama greets singer Kelly Clarkson after her performance of 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' during the public ceremonial inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

2013 was an exciting year for the Fort Worth, Texas native. She had the opportunity to sing at the second presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. She was joined on stage by the United States Marine band to perform "My Country Tis of Thee."

Brandon Blackstock

Singer Kelly Clarkson (R) and Brandon Blackstock attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

Clarkston had begun dating Blackstock, who is the son of her former manager Narvel Blackstock and the former stepson of McEntire, in 2012. The couple got married in October 2013 in Walland, Tennessee. Throughout their marriage, Blackstock was actually Clarkson's manager. Together they have a daughter, River Rose, and a son, Remington "Remi" Alexander.

In June 2020, Clarkson filed for divorce siting irreconcilable differences. According to court documents, Clarkson won primary custody of both of her children. The divorce was finalized on August 3, 2021.

The Big 10

Kelly Clarkson perfoms at the 2012 MuchMusic Video Awards at MuchMusic HQ on June 17, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.

George Pimentel/WireImage

Commemorating the tenth anniversary of her music career, Clarkson released her first greatest hits album, Greatest Hits - Chapter One, in November 2012. The album was certified gold in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Wrapped in Red

 Singers Kelly Clarkson (L) and Reba McEntire pose in the audience during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kevin Winter/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM

Clarkson released a holiday album, Wrapped in Red, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. The album featured classic songs such as "Run Run Rudolph" and "Blue Christmas" and had two new songs, "Wrapped in Red" and "Underneath the Christmas Tree." The album has been certified platinum by the RIAA and became the best-selling holiday album of the year.

Piece by Piece

Guest judge and Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson performs onstage at FOX's American Idol Season 15 on February 25, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

Ray Mickshaw/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Coming in hot with her seventh and final studio album under RCA Records, Clarkson released Piece by Piece in February 2015. It became her third album to debut at the top of the Billboard 200.

To promote the album, she appeared in the 14th season of American Idol, where she delivered a beautiful performance of the single of the same name. The album and single "Heartbeat Song" were nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance, respectively.

River Rose and the Magical Lullaby

Singer Kelly Clarkson signs copies of her new book "River Rose and The Magical Lullaby" at Barnes & Noble Tribeca on October 6, 2016 in New York City.

Jim Spellman/Getty Images

In 2016 Clarkson signed a book deal with HarperCollins releasing her first children's book, River Rose and the Magical Lullaby. The book features an original lullaby that was performed and written by the singer herself. Her second book was released in 2017, River Rose and the Magical Christmas, including an original song that was sung and written by Clarkson, "Christmas Eve."

The Voice

 Kelly Clarkson attends the 2017 Nickelodeon Halo Awards at Pier 36 on November 4, 2017 in New York City.

Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic

After serving as a mentor on The Voice, she officially joined as a coach in 2017 for its 14th season. She's still going strong as a coach and has four historic wins on Team Kelly.

Meaning of Life

Pink (L) and Kelly Clarkson perform onstage during the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Lester Cohen/WireImage

Clarkson went on to release her album Meaning of Life in October 2017, signing a long-term worldwide deal with Atlantic Records. Promoting the album, she performed at the 45th American Music Awards with Pink, performing R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts." Later on, she performed "Miss Independent" and "Love So Soft," which was nominated for a Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy Award. This same year she held the record for the most nominations in that category with a total of 4.

The Kelly Clarkson Show

Kelly Clarkson poses for a portrait at the NBCUniversal lot where her show is filmed in Universal City, California September 26, 2019

Brinson+Banks for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Adding more to her plate, in 2019 it was announced Clarkson was getting her own daytime talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show. The singer was filming the show while being a coach on the 17th season of The Voice. The show is so successful that it has earned six Daytime Emmy Awards including for an Outstanding Talk Show Entertainment. Clarkson also won the award for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host in 2020 and 2021.


In this image released on October 14, Kelly Clarkson poses backstage at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on October 14, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.

Amy Sussman/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp

In February 2020, Clarkson became a brand ambassador for the website Wayfair, releasing exclusive collections of furniture and decor that were said to be inspired by Clarkson.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Kristen Chenoweth and Kelly Clarkson seen during a music video in Columbus Circle on August 24, 2021 in New York City.

James Devaney/GC Images

Clarkson returned as a coach for the 19th season of The Voice. That same month she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

By May 2021, NBC had announced that the singer's show would take over the time slot of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

When Christmas Comes Around

 Former professional basketball player Shaquille O'Neal and singer Kelly Clarkson perform at The Event hosted by the Shaquille O'Neal Foundation at MGM Grand Garden Arena on October 02, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Denise Truscello/Getty Images for RMG

In September of 2021, the singer released Christmas Isn't Canceled (Just You), the lead single from her ninth studio album, When Christmas Comes Around. She performed at the second annual iHeartRadio holiday special and hosted her own Christmas special, Kelly Clarkson Presents: When Christmas Comes Around, on NBC.

American Song Contest

Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg attend NBC's "American Song Contest" Week 4 Red Carpet at Universal Studios Hollywood on April 11, 2022 in Universal City, California.

Phillip Faraone/WireImage

Adding on more projects, Clarkson and Snoop Dogg partnered in February 2022 and were named co-hosts of the singing competition series, American Song Contest. The show is an adaptation of the international songwriting competition Eurovision Song Contest and premiered on March 2, 2022. The show has contestants from all 50 states, five territories, and Washington DC who compete for the title of Best Original Song.