Kelly Clarkson isn’t your ordinary pop star. Long before millions of Americans tuned in to watch The Voice and cheer for their favorite contestants, there was American Idol, and Clarkson was the first-ever artist to clench the title (via Billboard). Since then, the singer-songwriter has become a household name, churning out hit song after hit song seemingly every year since her 2002 win. From living in relative obscurity to a becoming pioneering song powerhouse, Kelly Clarkson has had a stunning transformation, and her rise has no doubt changed our pop culture landscape.
While being an internationally-renowned pop star sounds like the epitome of the American dream, the road to music royalty hasn’t exactly been smooth for Clarkson. In fact, she’s had to endure all kinds of hardships in her lifetime, from her meager upbringing as a kid to living in the often harsh scrutiny of the public eye. And while Clarkson has always managed to weather any storm she’s caught in, she’s not without her tragedies and traumas, and she has the scars to prove it.
Wondering what exactly Clarkson has endured in her life? Read on to learn tragic things about Kelly Clarkson that will make you sympathetic to her plight.
Kelly Clarkson’s parents split up when she was young
When Kelly Clarkson was just 6 years old, her parents ended up getting divorced; not surprisingly, the experience left a mark on the singer. But being the artist that she is, Clarkson opened up about the split in the song "Because of You," which gives listeners insight into Clarkson’s feelings on the matter. "It’s about the cycle of families, like you act how your parents acted towards you and then your kids act how you acted towards them, and it’s all about breaking that cycle," she explained in an interview with MTV News. And doing just that is something Clarkson strives for in her personal life.
While the song isn’t exactly a happy one, Clarkson knew that the lyrics and sentiment would hit home for listeners. "It’s one of those songs that everybody’s kind of gonna relate to, but you’re not happy about that," she continued. "It’s very close to home."
If you were wondering, Clarkson got her family’s consent to release the song, which they agreed to since they’ve all come a long way — well, most of them.
Kelly Clarkson is estranged from her father
After Kelly Clarkson’s parents split up, the "Since U Been Gone" singer clearly ended up being closer to her mother. In fact, as Clarkson tells it, she and her father have been estranged for some time. "I’ve never really been in touch with him," she revealed in an interview with Skavlan in 2017. And while many people feel sad for Clarkson when they hear this, she’s honestly not too bothered. "I think if you don’t grow up with it, it’s hard to miss something you never had." Still, it’s a touch sad, even if Clarkson has made peace with it.
That’s not to say that Clarkson hasn’t done her best to mend any brokenness in her family, though. "I definitely tried a few times in my life, and I did that more for my brother," she continued. "He really is that kid that really wanted everybody to come together." But in the end, Clarkson says it’s healthiest to not keep toxic people in your life, no matter who they are — and she’s not wrong.
Growing up, Kelly Clarkson was on the brink of poverty
While Kelly Clarkson is worth a lot of money these days — about $45 million smackers, according to Celebrity Net Worth — but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, when she was growing up, Clarkson was only a few steps away from poverty, which may sound unbelievable, but it’s true. "We lived, like, pre-paycheck to pre-paycheck," she told CBS News. "I definitely had this whole mentality. I was like, ‘Whatever I’m going to do, I just don’t want to have to worry about that.’" Well, she definitely accomplished that goal.
That’s why Clarkson abhors it when people (usually rich people, she says) claim that money doesn’t buy happiness. "I don’t know one poor person that’s going, ‘Money doesn’t buy you happiness,’" she continued. "It pays you to get out of eviction notices, so it’s pretty good!" She does have a point!
It’s not surprising, then, that Clarkson is also know for her philanthropy, as she believes in the importance of giving back (via CBS News).
When she auditioned for American Idol, Kelly Clarkson was homeless
When Kelly Clarkson first tried out for American Idol, she legitimately didn’t know what she was auditioning for. At the time, Clarkson just knew that whatever the gig was paid, and figured she’d wind up as a backup singer or something. "I didn’t go into it thinking this would happen," she revealed in a chat with The Guardian. "I went into it thinking it might pay my electric bill."
Clarkson’s circumstances were actually quite dire at the time, too, as she’d run into some pretty bad luck. "My apartment in LA burned down and I had to move home," she continued. "I had no money and I had to sleep in my car for three days." Who would have guessed that based on what a powerhouse performance she gave on the show!
Given her insanely humble origins, Clarkson still pinches herself sometimes when she thinks about where she’s ended up. "I work very hard, but I always wonder how in the world I got here," she added.
Kelly Clarkson has had to deal with cruel record execs
After winning American Idol, Kelly Clarkson was signed to a record deal, and she worked with some of the most bigwig producers in the entire entertainment industry. Unfortunately, some of them weren’t exactly the kindest of people, as they told her that her songwriting was subpar. In particular, Clive Davis, who headed RCA in 2004, told Clarkson her song "Because of You" was crappy — in front of a bunch of other people. "A group of men thought it was OK to sit around a young woman and bully her," she explained in an interview with Variety. "I was told I should shut up and sing." Gross.
Fortunately, Clarkson ended up winning that battle, without having to do anything other than be herself. "And then, this is the best part," she continued. "He [Davis] played me the song that should be on the album, which was ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes,’ which I wrote." Ha! Clearly, the joke was on Davis, as Clarkson had the songwriting skills to pay the bills.
During her 20s, Kelly Clarkson felt picked apart by the public
It’s no secret that with great fame comes a lot of wonderful things, like money, admiration, and the power to have your voice heard. However, on the flip side, it also comes with intense public scrutiny for everything that you do. That’s something that Kelly Clarkson learned firsthand, as plenty of folks were picking her apart after she became a celeb. "In my twenties, yes, I felt that pressure all the time," she shared in a chat with CBS News. "Everybody always had something to say — musically, physically, what I was saying disappointed, whatever."
Fortunately, by the time Clarkson reached her 30s, she’d learned to adjust, and had grown a thicker skin. To that end, she was going to be herself in every way — musically, physically, and emotionally — and let the haters be damned. "You can either love it, or you don’t have to," she added. "There’s plenty of other artists out there to love." We are here for this 100 percent!
When Kelly Clarkson was super thin, she was majorly depressed
While Kelly Clarkson has always been beautiful, inside and out, fans of hers can tell you that in her early days of fame, she was quite slender. But what you might not have known was that at that time, Clarkson wasn’t doing well at all. "When I was really skinny, I wanted to kill myself," she confessed in an interview with Attitude. "I was miserable, like inside and out, for four years of my life." Unfortunately, because Clarkson was considered attractive, no one knew she was suffering.
Staying so thin had some pretty negative impacts on Clarkson’s body, too. "I like wrecked my knees and my feet because all I would do is put in headphones and run," she continued. "I was at the gym all the time."
To be clear, Clarkson wasn’t miserable because she had to be skinny — quite the opposite, in fact. "I said I was miserable [and] as a result I became thin," she tweeted after her Attitude interview was published.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
After putting on a bit of weight, Kelly Clarkson was fat-shamed
Just as Kelly Clarkson’s body was the subject of public scrutiny when she was super slender, so too have plenty of folks had something to say when she put on some weight. Most notably, Fox News host Chris Wallace once implored Clarkson to "stay off the deep-dish pizza for a little while," as noted by The Hollywood Reporter. Um, yikes.
But Clarkson is a human being just like the rest of us, and she knows that her weight fluctuates. "It’s when I’m fat that I’m happy," she told Redbook. "But no one actually cares about your health. They just care about aesthetics."
To that end, just as Clarkson made her peace with her family situation, she’s made peace with her body in all of its wonderful forms. "People should just concentrate on their own lives and their own health and their own happiness, and whatever that looks like for you, be happy with it," she added. Louder again for the people in the back!
Early in her marriage, women accused Kelly Clarkson’s former husband of infidelity
When Kelly Clarkson married (her now ex-husband) Brandon Blackstock in an idyllic outdoor wedding in 2013, she looked happier than she ever had. But of course, the tabloids couldn’t help but try to chip away at Clarkson’s wedded bliss. Specifically, The Dirty managed to find sources who said they’d been with Blackstock behind his wife’s back. "We met at a golf club in TN and have exchanged multiple texts and hung out a few times," one woman claimed (via the Daily Mail). "We haven’t slept together but we’ve been intimate in other ways."
That’s not all, either, as another woman claimed to have been seriously intimate with Blackstock as well. "It amazes me how manipulative this guy can be," she shared. "One minute he’s professing his undying love for his wife and the next minute he’s stepping out on her when she’s not looking."
Unbothered, Clarkson shut down the rumor mill in a tweet. "Keep hearing random rumors of me [and] Brandon splitting or [that] he’s cheating on me," she wrote. "Stop with all the lying please."
During her pregnancy, Kelly Clarkson was extremely sick
On June 12, 2014, Kelly Clarkson gave birth to her first child with Brandon Blackstock, River Rose Blackstock, which Clarkson jubilantly announced in a tweet. Naturally, the new parents were ecstatic about their bundle of joy. However, what fans only learned later was that Clarkson had severe sickness when she was pregnant with her daughter. "I got really sick to where I was losing weight at first," she confessed in an interview with CBS News. "And then I got scared, you know, because I couldn’t stop getting sick, non-stop." Clarkson even had to be hospitalized at one point, as she was vomiting so much.
However, for as rough as Clarkson’s first pregnancy was, any discomfort and pain faded once her beautiful daughter arrived. "I’d go through it all again," she continued. "I had the perfect baby."
Indeed Clarkson did go through the gauntlet again, as she gave birth to her son, Remington Alexander Blackstock, two years later on April 12, 2016. "He is healthy [and] we couldn’t be happier or more in love," she gushed in another tweet.
After her two pregnancies, Kelly Clarkson couldn’t bear to get pregnant again
After enduring two tough pregnancies, Kelly Clarkson decided she wasn’t going to have any more children. And while for some that may be a difficult decision to make — understandably so, for sure — for Clarkson, the choice seemed clear. "Oh god, those tubes are gone," she revealed in a chat with Cubby and Carolina in the Morning. "That’s blasphemy. We don’t even speak of it."
Of course, the reason for Clarkson’s decision was that her previous pregnancies had been incredibly difficult for her. Can you imagine being so sick 24/7, to the point where you have to be hospitalized? That… doesn’t sound pleasant.
Still, it’s not lost on Clarkson that other couples struggle when they’re trying to grow their families, and she’s sympathetic about that. "I always feel bad because I have friends who have a hard time getting pregnant and I’m just like guys, I have the worst pregnancies ever, it can’t happen again," she added. To each their own.
In 2017, Kelly Clarkson’s home was burglarized
In 2017, Kelly Clarkson and her family were subjected to a terrifying invasion of privacy: their Los Angeles home was burglarized, and badly so. "We got robbed last night," Clarkson told Extra. "We got here and our whole house was like bashed in, it was crazy." That sounds absolutely horrific!
Fortunately, Clarkson and her family weren’t home at the time, which definitely made the whole thing less scary. Still, she felt violated by the whole thing, to be sure. "Materialistic things we didn’t care about, [but] the guy was in our kid’s room," she continued. "So it was a little weird, [but] other than that everyone is safe and good."
Ever the person to look on the bright side of things, Clarkson was quick to share her gratitude that the robbery hadn’t been worse. "Other than that little hiccup everything has been really great in our lives," she added.
In 2020, Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce
While 2020 was a year that was hard on everyone for a myriad of reasons, it was especially tough on Kelly Clarkson. "I mean, it’s no secret," she confessed in an interview with Today. "My life has been a little bit of a dumpster… personally, it’s been a little hard the last couple months." Girl, same.
The reason for Clarkson’s specific woes? In June of 2020, Clarkson filed for divorce from Brandon Blackstock, whom she’d been married to for seven years, marking one of the most devastating celebrity break ups of 2020. Naturally, Clarkson was devastated about the split, but she reached out for support when she needed it. "I’ve been talking to friends that have been through divorce," she continued. "I don’t know how people go through that without having some kind of outlet because it is the worst thing ever for everyone involved." We’re so sorry to hear it, Kelly.
The reason Clarkson filed for divorce was "irreconcilable differences," though later revelations would become quite shocking. Kelly Clarkson was awarded primary custody.
Kelly Clarkson alleged her ex-husband defrauded her out of millions
For the longest time, Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock seemed to be the happiest of couples. So when Clarkson filed for divorce in June of 2020, fans were understandably a bit shocked. After all, the couple had just started a family a few years prior.
As for what caused trouble in paradise, legal documents obtained by Us Weekly revealed a bit more to the story. According to the outlet, Clarkson sued the management company run by Blackstock’s father, Starstruck Management Group, and alleged that her husband and the company "defrauded her out of millions of dollars." The reason? Allegedly, Blackstock and his father aren’t licensed to be agents in the state of California, which apparently renders all of their work null and void. She also claimed that Blackstock and the company had been "charging her outlandish fees."
Clarkson’s lawsuit came after Starstruck Management Group, alleging that Clarkson owes them $1.4 million, according to Variety. And while the truth is yet to be determined, the whole ordeal is already tragic for Clarkson and her children. Hang in there, Kelly.