Kelly Clarkson Reflects on How She's Evolved Since Winning American Idol 20 Years Ago

In honor of the 20th anniversary of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson looked back at how she's changed since winning the singing competition's first season in 2002.

By Alli Rosenbloom, Paige Strout Sep 08, 2022 3:00 PMTags
Watch: Kelly Clarkson Says New Album Is "Almost Finished"

Kelly Clarkson's catching her breath looking back at her time on American Idol.

It's been 20 years since the "Breakaway" singer was crowned the winner of the singing competition's premiere season in 2002, and boy has she come a long way since. From welcoming two kids—River, 8, and Remington Blackstock, 6—to launching her eponymous talk show in 2019, Clarkson looked back at how both she and her career have evolved since her Idol days exclusively with E! News.

"I feel like I've obviously progressed as a human," the Grammy winner shared. "At the same time, though, I do feel very similar and very tied to that 19-year-old girl that first auditioned. I don't feel very different in the sense that I've always had a lot of jobs—well, then, it was necessity—and I've always loved talking to people and I've always loved performing. I still love all the same things."

Perhaps the now 40-year-old put it best when describing herself as the "grown-up version" of her past self, adding, "I feel similar to her, but also different."

Kelly Clarkson Through the Years

It's those differences that have helped shape Clarkson into who she is today, and she said she wouldn't have it any other way. When asked what advice she would give to a young Kelly on the brink of stardom, she told E! News, "I don't know if I'd tell myself anything."

"I think there were several things that I would have loved to [have] avoided in life," Clarkson added, "but then I wouldn't have learned that lesson that I obviously needed to learn."

One such lesson? You should always live life to the fullest.

Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal; Getty Images

"Unfortunately, I've had people pass, several, and it's just a real healthy dose of reminding ourselves you don't know how long we're gonna be here," said Clarkson. "So, enjoy every day and make sure you're loving what you're doing.'"

The star will continue to do what she loves on the upcoming fourth season of The Kelly Clarkson Show, which premieres Sept. 12. And this season, she's taking her hit "Kellyoke" segment—in which she covers fan-requested songs—on a road trip across the U.S.

"We're hand-selecting people to come be a part of this giant 'Kellyoke' that we're doing on the show," she shared. "Through that, we actually ended up finding a singer that's actually gonna be on my record because her tone was so incredible."

Kelly Clarkson's Best Candid Moments

Hear Clarkson talk more about her upcoming album in the full interview above.

The Kelly Clarkson Show season four premieres Monday, Sept. 12, on NBC. Check your local listings.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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