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Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson

On September 4th, 2002, Kelly Clarkson became the first winner of American Idol — - a slightly dubious honor at the time, but one that allowed the Burleson, Texas, native to become among the best-selling solo performers of the '00s, and to later become an unlikely symbol for artistic independence in a tightly controlled major-label climate. Clarkson was born on April 24th, 1982, and turned to music as a child to escape the drama of her parents' two divorces. Her vocal talents were discovered in school, and she joined the choir and performed in musicals and talent shows. After high school, she eschewed college to try songwriting, supporting herself with a variety of jobs (she was working as a waitress when she auditioned for Idol).

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Photo by Mike Ruiz

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