Clarkson is the most successful American Idol contestant ever, with Carrie Underwood being the second most successful, and Jennifer Hudson being the third most successful. According to Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, Clarkson sold 24 million records and 39 million singles worldwide. Clarkson's work also earned her numerous accolades, including two Grammy awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, four American Music Awards, and one Women's World Award. Billboard also ranked Clarkson the number 14 artist of the 2000s, as well as also being ranked on the top 200 album sellers of the Nielsen SoundScan era at number 187.
Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982, in Fort Worth, Texas. She was raised in a small town called Burleston, Texas. She is the youngest of three children. Her mother Jeanne Rose is a first grade English of Greek descent. Her father Stephen Michael Clarkson is a former engineer of British descent. Her oldest sibling Jason is the only boy of the three. The middle one is Alyssa. At the age of six, Clarkson's parents divorced after seventeen years of marriage. The family settled in Burleson, where Clarkson's mother married her second husband, Jimmy Taylor. Clarkson's family struggled financially, and after her parents divorced, music became her refuge. Clarkson attended Pauline G Hughes Middle School and Burleston High School. She originally planned to be a marine biologist, but after seeing the 1975 film Jaws, she changed her mind. In seventh grade, a teacher (Mrs. Cynthia Glenn) overheard her singing in a hallway and asked her to audition for the school choir; Clarkson told the teacher that she had never received professional vocal training.
Clarkson auditioned for the first season of American Idol (under the full title American Idol: The Search for a Superstar) in May 2002, singing the songs "Express Yourself" by Madonna and "At Last" by the late Etta James, who died earlier in 2012. She subsequently won the competition on September 4, 2002, earning 58% of the vote to 42% for runner-up Justin Guarini, whom I prefer over her.