21 Years Ago: Kelly Clarkson Becomes First Winner Of ‘American Idol,’ Re-Live Her Crowning Moment

Clarkson was the first champion of American Idol and has gone on to become one of the show’s most successful contestants of all time.

By

Andrew Wendowski

Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

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Posted on September 5, 2023

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Kelly Clarkson; Photo Provided by FOX/American Idol – Kevin Winter/Getty Images – Social Media

Back before she was one of the biggest names in entertainment Kelly Clarkson was an aspiring singer competing on the first season of American Idol in 2002. She went on to win the competition, becoming its very first champion and one of the show’s most successful contestants of all time.

Clarkson won the show over fellow contestant Justin Guarini, who finished in second place. She went on to sign a record deal with RCA records, releasing two singles including her coronation song, “A Moment Like This.”

21 Years Ago: Clarkson’s Life Changed Forever

The 21-year anniversary of Clarkson’s big win fell on September 4, and the Texas native took a moment to remember the life-changing day on social media.

“21 years,” she captioned a photo of herself on stage after being declared the winner, her face a mixture of joy and disbelief.

Clarkson shared a longer message last year to mark the 20th anniversary of her win, noting that the victory “forever changed the course of my life.”

“That moment was the door that opened up so much access and opportunity, and creative partnerships that I will be grateful for all of my days,” she continued, adding that the “family and friendships” she has made over the past 20 years in both music and television “are priceless to me.”

“While I am proud and feel abundantly blessed of the successes and failures that I have learned from, I am most proud and grateful for those friends that have become family,” Clarkson shared. “Without them, I would not be where I am. I would probably not be here at all.”

Thanked Fans For Voting For Her

She also expressed her gratitude to her fans for voting for her on the show and ultimately helping to change her life.

“I hope all of you have people in your lives that fill you with laughter, and hope, and happiness, and if you don’t feel like you have that, then keep searching because I promise you they’re looking for you too,” she wrote.

Since her Idol win, Clarkson has experienced massive success, selling over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. She has won three Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In addition to her musical career, she launched her talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, in 2019, which has earned thirteen Daytime Emmy Awards, including three wins for Clarkson as Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host. She began serving as a coach on The Voice for its fourteenth season in 2018 and continued through Season 21 and again for Season 23.

New Album, Chemistry

Clarkson’s latest musical endeavor was her June 2023 album chemistry, which chronicles her relationship with ex-husband Brandon Blackstock from beginning to end.

In an interview with Variety, the mom of two explained that writing songs is “my form of therapy.”

“Which just so happens to be a way of connecting with people, obviously, too, deciding to put some of these songs out,” she continued. “Because that’s the worst part, man, when you are alone and you feel like, as much as you try and describe your situation, no one knows that in their world like you do in yours. That’s true for everyone… I think that’s one of the main reasons for releasing [the album] for me. It’s like, man, if this helps one person relate to something or helps them through the grieving process, it’s worth it.”

Kelly Clarkson, Photo Courtesy of Denise Truscello
Kelly Clarkson, Photo Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Clarkson supported the project with her first Las Vegas residency, Chemistry: An Intimate Evening with Kelly Clarkson, held at the Bakkt Theater at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas from July through August.

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Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

See more posts from Andrew Wendowski