She’s the first to admit that the past decade has been a pretty great ride.
Since winning the first season of American Idol in 2002, Clarkson has released five studio albums, sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and collected multiple accolades, including two Grammys, 12 Billboard Music Awards and even a CMA trophy and two ACM wins for her collaboration with Jason Aldean on “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”
At the moment, she has two Top 40 singles — “Catch My Breath” on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart and “Don’t Rush” (a collaboration with Vince Gill ) on the trade publication’s country airplay chart.
Clarkson found out in December that she’s nominated in four categories at this year’s Grammy Awards, including the highly-coveted honor of record of the year for her platinum-selling album, Stronger.
She describes her Grammy nods as “a shock.”
The singer was in London during the nominations, and her assistant and makeup artist surprised her in the wee hours of the morning with the news.
“I didn’t even know that it was going on — the nominations,” she recalls. “I was so far removed and busy.”
On top of the Grammy nominations, there’s an upcoming tour promoting the two singles, and the vocal powerhouse is also planning a wedding. And just last week, she performed a flawless version of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at the 57th presidential inauguration.
Of her performance in Washington, the star said she was “excited to be a part of such an historical event” and chose the song because “I wanted to do something special that I’ve never done.”
During a recent vist to CMT, Clarkson talked about her new music and greatest hits, what she’s looking forward to most about married life and much more.
Clarkson attributes American Idol with introducing her to a broad audience.
“I never just had young fans or just had older fans or just had my age,” she notes. “It’s always been pretty broad. I’m really thankful for that.”
Clarkson’s career longevity is recognized in Greatest Hits — Chapter One, a collection of 14 hits and three brand new songs. Released in November, the album includes fan-favorite tracks such as “Since U Been Gone,” “Miss Independent” and “Because of You.”
Of all her hits, she names “Walk Away” as her favorite to perform live, while “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” is her favorite recording.
“It’s just a great, powerful message, but it’s also a fun anthem,” she says. “I love that one.”
The Texas native is known for her feisty anthems and honest lyrics and finds it important to release songs she can personally relate to.
“I think we all have seen those artists on TV, and it’s like, ‘I don’t believe you’ve ever gone through that situation, or you would’ve sang that differently,’” she reveals. “I can’t emote something that I haven’t felt.”
That feeling of honesty played a pivotal role in Clarkson releasing her country collaboration, “Don’t Rush,” with Vince Gill. In actuality, recording the song might not have happened at all if not for Clarkson’s relationship with her fiancé.
“If somebody would’ve sent me that song a year ago, I’d of laughed and been like, ‘OK, cheeseville,” she admits. “But I love it now, and I’ve experienced it.”
The singer announced her engagement to entertainment manager Brandon Blackstock on Dec. 15. Blackstock is the son of Clarkson’s manager Narvel Blackstock and the stepson of Reba McEntire .
“I love sitting down on a Sunday afternoon, and there’s nothing to do,” she says. “I love that kind of stuff. It’s just my life now. I guess you grow, and you start singing about different stuff.”
Clarkson initially thought recording with Gill was “a long shot.”
She explains, “I’d recorded the lead, and I was going to do the backgrounds, and I thought, ‘Man, I think it’d be great to just get a guy to do the backgrounds.”
When producer Dann Huff asked if there was anyone Clarkson had in mind for the collaboration, the singer asked, “Think Vince Gill would do it?”
She admits, “I was reaching for the stars. I didn’t know that he would say yes. But he did!”
Clarkson describes performing the track with Gill at the CMA Awards in November as “the coolest thing ever.”
Clarkson’s fiancé is Shelton’s manager. Blackstock’s role in the music industry no doubt gives the couple a mutual appreciation for one another’s careers and schedules.
“We both understand each other,” Clarkson says. “We live in the same world, working-wise.”
Her upcoming nuptials are not something Clarkson takes lightly. While many brides seem focused on the guest list and dress, Clarkson’s objective is refreshing.
“I made a lot of goals when I was younger, and I’ve accomplished a lot of them, and I’m only 30,” she reveals. “I’ve been through two divorces in my family, and my biggest goal is to have a successful marriage. I think we definitely will.”