Kelly Clarkson has long been admired for her forthright views on a number of issues close to home for many people. From women’s rights to body-shamers, the singer, who burst to fame as the first winner of TV sensation American Idol in 2002, has been like a breath of fresh air among celebrities who often choose to play it safe when it comes to the controversial topics.
Since becoming a mother in 2014, Clarkson has taken a similar forthright view to parenting, choosing not to dodge the sensitive topics when it comes to daughter River Rose and son Remington. And when one Easter holiday came round, Clarkson found herself inadvertently revealing a home truth that it takes some youngsters many years to find out.
In revealing the details of the frank conversation she had with her kids, Clarkson was as open and honest as ever, displaying once again just why she is one of America’s best-loved TV personalities and entertainers. Indeed, her legions of fans have come to expect nothing less of Clarkson, whose popular appeal has widened since the start of her own TV chat show in 2019.
Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in April 1982. She certainly didn’t arrive with a silver spoon in her mouth either, as she was later to reveal in a 2011 interview with British newspaper The Guardian. “I had to grow a thick skin from the age of five,” recalled Clarkson.
Life changed irrevocably for Clarkson in 2002 when she became the inaugural winner of a new TV singing competition that took America, and the world, by storm. In the final, Clarkson faced off against Justin Guarini, but it was the Texan singer who claimed the top prize, securing 58 percent of the mass vote. She has maintained her public popularity ever since.
Clarkson later admitted that her motivations for putting herself forward for American Idol were born a little out of desperation. “My goal was just to be a back-up singer – I never intended to be in front. But then my apartment in L.A. burned down and I had to move home; I had no money and I had to sleep in my car for three days,” the singer later told The Guardian.
Clarkson also had very little idea what she was signing up for with American Idol, with that season being the show’s debut year on American television. “I just auditioned for this thing that said they’d pay you, and it happened to be American Idol. I didn’t go into it thinking this would happen; I went into it thinking it might pay my electric bill,” Clarkson revealed in the same interview.
Winning American Idol paid for rather more than Clarkson’s utility bills. And the singer’s career has endured much longer than many who win the competition, too. To date Clarkson has shifted an incredible 65 million albums and singles combined. No fewer than 27 of her songs have featured in the prestigious Billboard Hot 100 chart, and she has also secured three number one singles.
But the accolades don’t stop there for Clarkson, who is a mom of two, and stepmom to a further two children. The Texan has claimed three Grammy Awards, written children’s books, and has featured regularly as a coach on hit TV show The Voice. From 2019 the singer also began hosting her own syndicated daytime TV program, The Kelly Clarkson Show.
As with nearly all of Clarkson’s endeavors, the talk show has proven popular, being nominated for Best Talk Show at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards. Clarkson herself has been enthusiastic about the project. “I love connecting with people, playing games, music and finding ways to help or give back to communities/organizations,” the singer stated in an NBC press release. “Having my own talk show where I get to do all of these things is pretty much a dream job,” the singer added.
TV executives and critics have raved about Clarkson’s handling of the show. “We’re happy [The] Kelly Clarkson [Show] is working. It shows that if you go big in a talk show with the right talent, it can stick,” said Ira Bernstein, of the Lionsgate Debmar-Mercury syndication unit, as quoted in Variety magazine in November 2019.
The executive vice president of creative affairs for NBCUniversal, which distributes the show, was even more effusive about Clarkson. “Kelly is the exact same person off-camera that she is on-camera. She’s putting her heart and soul into the show, and that’s coming through to the viewer,” said Tracie Wilson, also as quoted in Variety.
Yet her TV show is just the latest in a long line of hits for Clarkson. As well as her phenomenal music sales, starting with her debut album Thankful, which sold 2.8 million copies, Clarkson has also ventured into the children’s literature field. Her debut story, River Rose and the Magical Lullaby debuted in the top ten children’s picture books in The New York Times Best Sellers List.
Clarkson subsequently released a follow-up to River Rose and the Magical Lullaby, with River Rose and the Magical Christmas having its release in 2017. As well as music, TV and literature, Clarkson has also turned her attention to movies, lending her voice to characters in films The Star, UglyDolls and Trolls World Tour.
In terms of her personal life, Clarkson married Brandon Blackstock, a talent manager, in October 2013. Blackstock is the son of Clarkson’s former manager. The pair tied the knot at Blackberry Farm in the unincorporated community of Welland, Tennessee, in 2013. Blackstock also hails from Clarkson’s hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.
Blackstock was married before, to Melissa Ashworth, and the couple had two children together. Clarkson is now stepmother to Blackstock’s two children with Ashworth, while Clarkson gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in June 2014. Less than two years later, in April 2016, the couple welcomed a son into their family, too.
Clarkson has long been applauded for keeping it real as a mom. Speaking at the SHE Summit, held in New York City back in 2016, the singer was particularly candid about the pitfalls of motherhood. “I have a lot of mom guilt. I was just talking about this…If you’re a mom, you want to be with your kid every day,” Clarkson said, at the same time admitting this wasn’t possible for most moms.
Clarkson hit home the point. “You don’t want to miss a moment, you want her to need you and want you and not want somebody else. But I think it’s really important not only for my little girl and our 15-year-old girl and our boys to see that a woman is capable of kicking ass while also being a kickass mom,” she added.
And Clarkson certainly didn’t pull any punches when it came to admitting that, like all parents, it sometimes all gets a bit too much. “I.m not gonna B.S. you, that’s [being a working mom] hard. There are days where I cry like and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I can handle all this!’ or get it all done. But at the end of the day, 99 percent of the time, it’s awesome and it’s worth it and that’s what I say to myself,” Clarkson revealed.
It is insights such as these, and about her weight, that have made Clarkson such a popular and respected figure, both in terms of her own success, and in relation to the championing of female empowerment. Clarkson has often been reticent to talk about any weight struggles she has suffered, but the star admitted that “as a mother, and as an aunt, and as a sister, and as a daughter, I think it’s very important for me to be very open about my weight and people asking about it.”
Clarkson has given many interviews where she has been refreshingly open, both about herself, and about parenting. “I try not to complement our boys or our girls so much on aesthetics,” said Clarkson. “If they look handsome or beautiful, obviously we’ll say that, but I’m really adamant about everyone around us always saying like, ‘God, you’re clever. You’re smart. You’re witty, you’re funny… all the other things that make character,” the star told People magazine in a 2018 interview.
Clarkson has also raised smiles, and occasional nods of agreement, with her salute to wine as a necessary aid to parents. In response to reporters’ questions in a 2018 interview, Clarkson said, in relation to children, that “they are challenging. “Wine is necessary. They’re great though. Out of the mouths of babes. They say stuff where you’re like ‘Damn.’ They call you out. They teach me,” Clarkson added.
But when it came to Easter 2019, it was time for the singer to teach her children a valuable, yet tough lesson for kids to hear. And it regarded the Easter bunny, and the Easter baskets that kids use to collect their eggs. It was a lesson that many parents are loath to give their children, particularly when they’re younger.
Speaking to People magazine, Clarkson referred to a conversation she’d had with her two youngest children, daughter River, who was four at the time, and son Remington, who was three. “I kind of just was like, ‘Mommy and daddy did these for you.’ I knew my mom always did it — maybe don’t show this to children,” Clarkson said.
Clarkson elaborated a little more on her decision to tell her kids the truth. “I thought Easter was for us. Sometimes I’m tired of giving credit to non-existent things. Like I’m very busy, and I took the time to shop at Target and put this all together. I did this — no bunny! They got chocolate, so they’re fine,” the singer added.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Clarkson has had to reveal to her kids the uncomfortable truth regarding what, or who, is real, and what, or who, isn’t. In an interview with Kevin Frazier of TV program Entertainment Tonight, that was subsequently reported in newspaper USA Today, the singer put her foot in it when explaining to her daughter, River Rose, about her (Clarkson’s) role in the animated movie UglyDolls, in which the singer voiced the character of Moxy.
As usual, Clarkson was her forthright, and charming, self in the interview with Frazier. “I pretty much crushed her dreams,” Clarkson said in relation to daughter River Rose. “I didn’t really realize what I was doing.” But what was it that Clarkson had done that was so awful?
Clarkson was attempting to explain how River Rose’s mom, Clarkson herself, was a voice in a movie that was animated. “I was explaining to her, because she was confused, and I said, ‘It’s my voice. Like, you know, like how Elsa and Anna, there’s a person that plays Elsa and Anna?’ And I didn’t get what I was doing,” the star revealed.
Clarkson’s daughter’s reaction was pretty much what you would expect too. “I saw her little face, and I just saw the wheels spinning and it was like, ‘Oh no! But isn’t it exciting that you can meet the real girl that plays Elsa?’” Clarkson explained, obviously quickly trying to assuage any disappointment her daughter might have been feeling.
Finding out that the movie Frozen isn’t real might be a major disappointment to most young kids, yet it’s something that comes with growing up. Undoubtedly, though, it’s important for children to have role models in their lives, and that’s a subject to which Clarkson has referred on numerous occasions, particularly in relation to her young daughter. “I try to just be a confident female for her ― and I believe actions obviously speak louder than words, it’s an old saying but it’s very true,” Clarkson said in an interview with Redbook magazine.
Being a strong woman means a lot to Clarkson. “It’s a turn-on [for my husband] that I’m a pretty badass female; boys that I dated before, they got intimidated by it, [and] that’s not fair to me because I work very hard,” the singer also told Redbook.
In terms of her husband Blackstock, Clarkson is proud of the father that he is and the respect he has for women. “I’m glad our boys and also our girls have a man [Blackstock] to look [up to], who shows them, ‘This is how you treat a woman, this is how you respect a woman.’ He takes his daughter on dates and shows her, ‘This is what a guy should do,’” Clarkson also told Redbook.
Clarkson has also spoken out against those who shame female stars over their bodies. The star, who has been frank about her own personal weight issues, isn’t afraid to hit out at social media bullies. “Pity people that speak ill of others, because while some of us are dancing, the others are too afraid,” she wrote on a Twitter post.
And when it comes to being a parent, Clarkson has admitted that she doesn’t want to be one of those absent mothers. “I don’t want to be one of those pop-star moms that doesn’t see their kids,” Clarkson told the Today TV show back in 2018.
Clarkson conceded that with a busy career, “I’m not going to be able to be there for everything,” but in the Today interview she also contended, “It’s okay, because I’m showing my daughter and my son and our kids that you can do both and achieve great things. If you work hard, you can play hard.”
Clarkson certainly works hard. She announced live on The Kelly Clarkson Show that she will be appearing in a concert residency at the Zappos Theater, within the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, starting in April 2020. The 16-date residency will run until September, and will act to compensate for the lack of promotional touring the singer has been able to do for her music due to her TV commitments.
As well as The Kelly Clarkson Show, the singer and TV personality has been a mentor on The Voice since 2017, and also featured in a series back in 2012. In 2020 Clarkson’s voice will also be heard as part of an ensemble cast in Trolls World Tour, which is also set for an April release.
It signifies another hectic period in the career that Clarkson has enjoyed since 2002. She was propelled almost overnight into the hearts of Americans, and subsequently people the world over, at the age of just 20, and she has barely looked back since. Yet despite her overwhelmingly successful career, Clarkson is still hugely conscious of the way her children perceive her.
When talking to People magazine in 2018 Clarkson revealed how she wishes her kids to see her, both now and in the coming years. “I hope with our two boys and our two girls that they see their parents as successful, loving and respectful people because that’s what we want for them,” she revealed.
In that same 2018 interview, Clarkson revealed perhaps the sagest advice she plans to give her kids, and it related to their futures. “I’m going to teach my kids to do what they love, regardless if they’re the most famous person doing it. Love what you do. Love who you work with and don’t work with people you don’t and don’t do things you don’t love,” Clarkson said. Wise words indeed from someone who knows a thing or two about fame.