Kelly Clarkson: This Is How I Made It

Jason Ikeler
Photo credit: Ruben Chamorro

From Cosmopolitan

In her song “Whole Lotta Woman,” Kelly Clarkson describes herself as, “a strong bad-ass chick with classic confidence” and it’s easy to see why. Over the course of her 15-year music career, she’s accumulated 100 number-one songs on the Billboard charts, and sold more than 25 million albums worldwide. She’s currently a coach on season 14 of The Voice while also promoting her eighth studio album, Meaning of Life.

Before she became a Grammy award-winning artist, Clarkson’s path in life wasn’t always clear. When she was in seventh grade, she says that "there was just nothing really special [about me], I was kind of the kid that didn’t stand out in anyway.”

Photo credit: Ruben Chamorro

The turning point came when she was 13 and performed Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” at her school talent show. Clarkson says after the show, a stranger, who she assumed was a classmate’s grandfather, approached her and said, “That was so amazing, you’re gonna do this for the rest of your life.”

She was stunned. “I don’t even think I said ‘thank you.’" she says. "I was taken aback because I’d never received any kind of compliment like that."

That compliment gave her the inspiration to pursue a career in music. “It was a really pivotal moment for someone to come up to me and instill that confidence at such a young age," she says. "From that moment, all I focused on was singing, whether it was getting a scholarship for college or trying out for [American] Idol.”

Now in her current roles (as a mother and a coach on The Voice), Clarkson still thinks back to seventh grade and says it's important that people feel validated for their hard work and talent.

She was never able to track down the stranger who gave her the ultimate compliment and now jokes, “Was he real?” "We all have these moments in our life that are so pivotal... that really was that fork in the road that sent [me] on a completely different path.”

Even though this experience was a positive one, Clarkson says not all her feedback is like that, and it's important to keep going anyway.

"Not everybody’s gonna think your poo smells like roses," she says. "None of us are Jesus Christ."

Watch Kelly Clarkson compete against a superfan (aka the author of this article) to see who knows her lyrics best:

Kelly’s album Meaning of Life featuring “I Don’t Think about You” is available now.

Watch Kelly on The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.

Senior video producer: Jason Ikeler. Videographers/editors: Andy Clancy and Gigi Pena. Photographer: Ruben Chamorro. Production Assistants: Erika Trombley and Scott Kidwell.

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