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Kelly Clarkson Talks Emotional 'American Idol' Anniversary (Exclusive)

todaySeptember 7, 2022 1

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Kelly Clarkson is living for a moment like this. The 40-year-old superstar recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her historic American Idol win while gearing up for the fourth season of her eponymous talk show. 

On Sept. 4, Clarkson took to Instagram to commemorate the Idol milestone with a touching message. 

“20 years ago today I won American Idol and it forever changed the course of my life,” she wrote on Instagram. “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. The family and friendships I have created over these 20 years in music and tv are priceless to me.”

She continued, “We only get so many trips around the sun and 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, and for their arms that have held me when I needed it and their hearts that listened to me when I felt lost. Without them I would not be where I am. I would probably not be here at all.”

Speaking with ET on Tuesday, Clarkson revealed that her emotions were running higher than usual on Sunday. While covering an intense, unrelated-to-Idol story for The Kelly Clarkson Show in Texas over the weekend, the significance of the date snuck up and hit her like a ton of bricks. 

“It was a very emotional day,” she tells ET’s Cassie DiLaura. “I just, you know, had just been weeping all day for a different reason and then all of a sudden it hit me I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s September 4th!’ And I felt like 20 years later, it deserved me to say something, right? I usually don’t talk a ton about stuff like that but, like, it deserved the moment.”

Clarkson marvels at the accolades that Idol and its alumni have earned in the decades that followed her inaugural win. “They’re why we get to do what we get to do,” she continues. “Being noticed and recognized for what you do, it only helps promote you to be able to do more things, so that’s incredible. But the point is the people. It’s about people, whether they’re celebrities or non-celebrities.” 

Clarkson, who describes herself as “very much an empath,” says that her passion for highlighting human interest is what led to her talk show. 

“The news can overwhelm me and I can just feel very hopeless, and I think a lot of people are like that,” she explains. “It’s really cool to have to come back fresh from a summer off and really get to highlight all these incredible people and show what humans are capable of. It’s crazy, there are no words to describe how fortunate you feel.” 

The Kelly Clarkson Show returns for a fourth season on Monday, Sept. 12. 

Meanwhile, Clarkson’s pal and fellow Idol alum — who also took a turn in the big red chairs of The Voice, like Clarkson — Jennifer Hudson is set to debut her own talk show on the very same day. Clarkson says there’s no competition, only love, between the ladies. 

“I don’t feel like she needs words of wisdom ’cause she’s awesome,” Clarkson gushes. “I definitely texted her and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a whole different world from like music but, like, if you ever need anything, let me know!’ Because I think too, as a working mom, it’s only exciting when you see other people that are really trying to do everything, you know, and and trying to accomplish their dreams and also trying to hold it down and raise a family. So it’s just exciting to see.” 

Clarkson also had words of high praise for Sherri Shepherd and Wendy Williams amid their own daytime shakeup. 

“I just think what’s cool is, I think of it like music,” she explains. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you don’t want to drop when Adele drops an album!’ Right? Because everybody’s talking about Adele, but it’s like, I wanna drop when Adele drops because that means people are gonna be on iTunes or in the store or whatever ’cause they’re getting hers and maybe they might see mine. So I think that’s the cool thing about daytime TV and streaming, is there’s room for all of us and we’re only gonna life everyone up and get daytime back to where it was. I have room for everyone at the table.” 

For her part, Hudson recently told ET’s Kevin Frazier that she definitely planned to take Clarkson up on her offer for help and advice along the way. 

“I am still going to reach out to Ms. Kelly, you know, ’cause she leads the way,” Hudson told ET. “You gotta love her.” 

It was recently announced that Hudson would welcome Simon Cowell to The Jennifer Hudson Show as her very first guest. ET caught up with the legendary talent judge and reality star at Tuesday’s taping of America’s Got Talent, where he said he was “really touched” by the invitation and called her career “a proper Hollywood story.”

“It kind of made me feel quite emotional and it made me think back to all those days,” he told ET’s Denny Directo. “I’m very fortunate that the majority of the contestants on Idol and all my shows, I’ve always remained friends with.” 

He also heaped praise on Clarkson for her post-Idol success. 

“I said to Kelly, ‘Without you winning the show, it’s unlikely we would be doing this now because we had to find a star,'” he explained. “And the fact [that] we found a bonafide star that first year and somebody who America loved as well was everything. And, you know, she’s a fantastic person.” 

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