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A woman self-empowered to be herself

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ten years. Five albums. Two Grammys. Oh, don’t forget more than 20 million albums sold worldwide. Not bad for a shy girl from Texas with a big voice.

Yet with all the success, Kelly Clarkson hasn’t let any of it change her.

“I have worked with a lot of great people. And I’ve worked with some who want me to be the biggest star in the world. I don’t want that,” Clarkson says during a recent interview. “I want a life outside of music and I’ve worked hard at making it happen.”

Clarkson rose to fame when she was crowned the winner of “American Idol” during its first season in 2002. She is now an established artist who is touring in support of her latest album, “Stronger.” The album has yielded two No. 1 singles – “Mr. Know It All” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – and her current single is “Dark Side.”

“The whole album is very much about strength and empowerment, so ‘Stronger’ felt like the perfect title,” Clarkson says. “Plus that song has been just a gold mine – it’s a little bit pop, a little bit pop-rock, a little bit urban, a little bit dance, and it ties everything in. And everybody loves that message: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ It’s a perfect representation of my life.”

Clarkson says it was her mother who influenced and taught her and her siblings strength after her parents divorced.

Kelly Clarkson
With The Fray
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2
WHERE: Hard Rock Casino Albuquerque presents The Pavilion, 5601 University SE
HOW MUCH: $32-$93.80 at

“My mom had to do everything on her own,” Clarkson says. “She put herself through school. It was really hard. I think watching that molded me into this person who wants to relay a message to women everywhere that they’re capable of doing whatever they set their mind to. It made an impact on me even though I didn’t know it at the time. Now I see it while I’m making these songs that I hope will inspire people.”


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Clarkson says she gravitates toward songs with defiant messages because she’s fighting to be herself.

“That’s why I tend to write or choose songs about how just being you is OK,” she explains. “People associate me with break-up songs, but most of the time the song isn’t even about a guy. I never write about one particular thing. I always relate the topic to different situations in my life, whether it’s family, friends or work. That’s what makes the songs connect on a broader level.”

Clarkson co-wrote five tracks on “Stronger,” a process she feels is therapeutic, and she is pleased at how the album has been received.

“What separates this album are the vocals,” she says. “They sound richer and fuller, and, for the first time, how I sound when I’m performing live.”