Singer's career gets 'Stronger,' with a new hit, a new TV show and with a tour that's preparing to pull into Ironstone Vineyards in MurphysKelly Clarkson is in the news these days for all sorts of reasons. There's the new boyfriend, the weight loss, the new hair color.
Oh, and that just-completed TV show called "Duets."
Clarkson, the first-ever "American Idol," brings all that and more to Ironstone Vineyards on Saturday, along with opening band The Fray.
Part of that "and more" that she'll be bringing to the region will be her chart-topping latest single, "Stronger." After weeks stuck at No. 2 on the Billboard adult contemporary singles chart, "Stronger" nudged Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" from the top spot in June. With that move, the song officially had topped seven charts, including the Hot 100, pop songs chart, the radio song chart and adult pop song chart.
Oh, and let's not forget, it also became Kelly's first-ever No. 1 on the dance/club play chart earlier this year.
As for her appearance on "Duets," Clarkson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently that she was thrilled to be back in the competition/reality show fold.
"I was captivated by the idea," Clarkson said. "My favorite part of awards shows are the collaborations, the mix of people who aren't normally on stage together. That's what drew me to the idea of the show."
"Duets" was created by Robert Deaton, who had produced the CMA Awards. He was approached by ABC to do a music show last fall. They decided early on they needed big stars and wanted them actively involved. To do so, they came up with "Duets."
They convinced Clarkson, Lionel Richie (replaced at the last second by John Legend), Sugarland lead singer Jennifer Nettles and R&B star Robin Thicke to sign on. The four singers scoured the country for talent and each found two to work with.
Clarkson's "Duets" partner, Jason Farol, placed third in the season finale, which aired July 19. The winner was Nettles' partner J. Rome, who received a recording contract for his win.
Clarkson said she picked two singers "who were like me when I started on 'Idol.' " She also liked the idea of working on a new show because that's what "Idol" was in 2002. "No one's jaded or entitled."
On "Idol" at the time, "nobody knew what they were doing. The show blew up at the top four," she said. She then repeated her description of it at the time: "Ghetto Idol."
"We just didn't have anything they have now," she said. "We couldn't get songs cleared. We didn't have people helping us as contestants. I love the fact, 10 years later, I get to actually be that person for two of these contestants. I get to hand-pick them. I get to actually help and give someone a chance."
She admitted it all felt a bit nostalgic.
Clarkson has built a thick skin over the past 10 years, absorbing a steady drumbeat of complaints from inside and outside the industry about her weight, her sexual preferences, her musical choices. She's proud when fans come up and say they love what a great example she is, how she exudes confidence no matter what challenges she faces. Citing Jennifer Lopez and Paula Abdul and others, "we're all examples in our own way. We all stand up for some group of kids," she said.
When asked why she's lost weight in recent months, she noted that she has fluctuated about 20 pounds for years. She credits her boyfriend Brandon Blackstock stepson of Reba McEntire, who recently played at Ironstone Vineyards for inspiring her to work out.
"I'm kind of that girl," she said. "I tend to tone up or get fit whenever I want. And I choose to. My boyfriend and I are really into it at the moment. I'd love to say it's for work. It wasn't."
As for the music business, she said that being on "Idol" does not guarantee success.
"It's hard work," she said. "The four years after 'Idol' was grueling. I had no life. I went overseas and had to break in as a new artist because they didn't have 'Idol.' I (told) the people who are with me on ("Duets") that this is your 15 minutes in front of the world. What you do afterwards is what counts. Find a good group of people, a great manager and a great band. A great production team. It takes a village! And persistence."