Music Mondays: Kelly Clarkson

This former American Idol winner has certainly come a long way from her reality show roots. After numerous chart-topping singles, five successful studio albums, and even two Grammys, Kelly Clarkson has proven she's here to stay. Her thought-provoking track, "Dark Side," is featured on her latest offering, Stronger. The song is an ode to imperfection, highlighting the fact that we all have a "dark side." In a video filled with intense imagery, Kelly brings some light to the darkness by embracing several of the struggling souls at the end of the video.

Kelly was born in Burleson, Texas and didn't exactly experience an idyllic childhood. Her parents divorced when she was just six and her mother struggled to raise the family. While it was a tough time in her young life, Kelly now realizes that it helped shape her as an artist. "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," she admitted on her Web site. Her amazing vocal talents weren't discovered until junior high school when a teacher heard her singing in the hallway and convinced her to join the choir. After graduating high school, Kelly's friend gave her the money to finance a demo and a few years later the ambitious artist headed to Los Angeles. Although she managed to get a few gigs, the move out West really didn't pay off and Kelly moved back home after a stroke of bad luck, which included her apartment burning down.

She worked odd jobs back in Texas before a friend encouraged her to try out for this new TV show in 2002. She impressed the judges at the Dallas auditions for American Idol and went on to win the first season of the now-iconic talent competition. Even though her debut single shot to the top spot on the Billboard chart, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the newly-crowned pop star. She appeared in the notorious movie, From Justin to Kelly, and had a very public dispute with former RCA Records chair, Clive Davis, over her much darker 2007 album, My December. We love that through all the ups and downs, Kelly has shown her independence as well as a determination to be in control of her own music and her own fate. She's even gone back to the talent show format by first appearing as an advisor for Blake Shelton on NBC's The Voice and then by serving as a coach for ABC's singing competition, Duets.

Check out Kelly's video for "Dark Side" below before heading over to I AM THAT GIRL's YouTube channel. While you're there, don't forget to tune into our Music Mondays playlist, which is updated every week.

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