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Cherry Pop

Kelly Clarkson ('From Justin To Kelly') Kelly Clarkson ('From Justin To Kelly')
'America's First Idol Speaks!'

The winner of Fox TV's first 'American Idol: The Search for a Superstar' competition, during the summer of 2002 Kelly Clarkson went from an anonymous talent to a nationally known singer performing for an audience of millions of viewers. One of the show's most naturally gifted singers, the 20 year-old Burleson, TX native's vocal talents were discovered when she was in seventh grade, when her school's choir teacher heard her singing and urged Clarkson to join the choir. After high school, Clarkson cultivated her voice and went to Hollywood to make her name; she appeared as an extra on an episode of 'Sabrina: The Teenage Witch' but no other opportunities materialized.

Upon returning to Burleson, Clarkson worked at a movie theater, promoted Red Bull energy drinks and ultimately worked as a cocktail waitress at a comedy club before entering the 'American Idol' contest. One of 10,000 aspiring singers, Clarkson distinguished herself not only with her big, surprisingly mature voice, but also with her down-to-earth charm and sense of humor.

Her first single, 'A Moment Like This', was released just two weeks after she won the contest and quickly earned platinum sales. Clarkson's self-titled full-length album was released in spring of 2003, just in time to coincide with the second season of 'American Idol' and right before the so-called "American Idol movie", 'From Justin to Kelly'.

Now with a hit debut album and hot debut movie on her hands, I managed to sneak some time alone with the lovely Kelly, but as I entered the room I was immediately taken by surprise. "How are ya'll doing?," she asks both myself and my photographer, her bright, beautiful, genuine smile as broad as the day is long. Upon telling her we're just fine, I sit down with her and we chat about all things Kelly for twenty short, yet wonderful minutes.

So, what's new, Kel?! "Well, I get a 5am ready call tomorrow morning, so I'm excited about that!" she laughs.

Have you gotten used to the fact that you won the very first 'American Idol'?! "Yeah, of course," she winks. "I feel absolutely normal these days. I feel kinda sad though as with filming this film and everything, I haven't seen my mom is ages! In fact, I haven't seen any of family."

When you sang that last song after you'd won 'AI' it looked like you may not make it through! What was going through your head?! "Oh my God! You wanna know why? These are just little tid bits. Um, but I didn't know where my mom was the whole time in the audience and I'd look over in the middle of that song and she just happened to be in that direction and she was balling. I wanted to go 'Thanks mom. Now I'm going to ball in front of the whole world!"

So you could cry at the drop of a hat then?! "Oh yeah, I get like that a lot! I cry at Hallmark commercials people!"

How was High School for you? "You know what, to be honest with you, High School was such a blast. Like I did everything: Student council, musicals, everything. I was so evolved. Like me senior year I came, actually all through high school I came in my pajamas. And sometimes I'd be running late and I'd show up without any shoes," she giggles. "It was kinds weird. We're no Podunk. I showed up without shoes because I forget. Not like barefoot and overalls!"

Were you a good student? "Yeah, my mom's was a teacher, are you kidding? Yeah, but I hate red pens to this day!"

As you might just now turn into a 'Diva', what is your definition of diva?! "Well, first of all a 'Diva' is what I call Aretha Franklin. She doesn't even have to sing, she just walks in, and you don't even talk. I don't know. You have to achieve that. Call me in ten years and hopefully I'll still be around!"

So, for your debut movie 'From Justin To Kelly,' did you have any acting experience behind you?! "Oh yeah, I've done musical theatre and all that kind of stuff, yeah. I like to entertain in general. I'm all about breaking rules that somebody has set," she laughs again. "I'll do whatever comes my way!" she smiles.

Are you happy with how the film turned out?"Are you kidding? Yeah. Oh we're all performers ya know. We all point like we could have done that better or I could have done that better. Ya know, I'm my own worst critic. But in the end I think I did an OK job," she smiles once again.

What was your life before 'AI'?! "I was in LA before that. I was actually going to start a deal, but my apartment burned down. My car broke down twice. I had incidents in four days!"

Was it true that you worked as a cocktail waitress or was that just a joke?! "No, yeah I worked as a cocktail waitress for two and half years. In Arlington, Texas at a comedy club. That's why I'm so funny, yeah right," she giggles.

Are you living in LA now or what? "Nooo! I'm livin' in Texas. I don't care how many times I have to fly, I need my roots."

What about boys?! "You know what? I'm not looking for that right now. I am so busy, but of course there are people. But I'm so mad. Somebody lied to me and said that Matthew Perry was interested in me and I was so excited. I love him he was so cute!"

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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