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She rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of the television series American Idol, which earned her a record deal with RCA Records.

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All Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the album for its vocal ability: "throughout this record, (Clarkson) makes it seem effortless and charming.

She can croon, she can belt out a song, she can be sexy and sassy while still being graceful and as wholesome as the girl next door." Its lead single, "Miss Independent", became her first international hit—charting in the top ten in five national charts, including the US., and was later certified gold by the RIAA.

Clarkson turned down two recording contracts from Jive Records and Interscope Records, stating "They would have completely pigeonholed me as a bubblegum act.

In 2001, she traveled to Los Angeles, trying to pursue a career in music.

It spawned her third Hot 100 number-one single "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)".

She became the first American female artist to achieve the best-selling holiday album of the year with Wrapped in Red (2013).

Upon returning to Burleson, Clarkson was encouraged by her friends to audition for the inaugural season of the reality television series American Idol: The Search for a Superstar in May 2002. I definitely looked like a cocktail waitress." Clarkson went on to win the competition on September 4, 2002 at the then Kodak Theatre (now Dolby), earning 58% of the votes against runner-up Justin Guarini and without being sent into the bottom three throughout the season.

Despite receiving a "golden ticket," a pass to the Hollywood rounds, in the series premiere, Clarkson made her first appearance during the second episode. They did one season of Pop Idol in the UK but America is a very different market. Immediately after winning American Idol, Clarkson was signed to a record deal with RCA Records, 19 Recordings, and S Records by talent manager Simon Fuller, who created American Idol; and music mogul Clive Davis, who was slated to executive-produce her debut album.

It sold over 12 million copies worldwide and earned Clarkson two Grammy Awards.

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