"I could give a crap about being a star. I've always just wanted to sing and write," Clarkson tells Elle magazine in the magazine's July 2007 issue. "My resistance upsets a lot of people, because we could make a lot of money. And I'm not hatin' on money. But you know in Funny Girl, when they make Barbra Streisand sing the 'beautiful girl' song, and she is singing these lyrics, and she knows she's not that person? I'm just not comfortable doing things that don't feel like me."
Clarkson has been embattled in a feud with RCA chairman Clive Davis over the musical content of her upcoming third album "My December, which she either wrote or co-wrote every one of the 14 tracks on. While Clarkson finished recording "My December" in January, it won't be released by RCA until June 26 because Davis reportedly "sat" on "My December" for four months hoping the Idol winner would use the same producers who helped her craft 2004's "Breakaway," which won a 2006 Grammy for best pop vocal album and has since sold 10 million copies.
"I've sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say," Clarkson told Elle as she explained how she spurned a more pop vibe in exchange for something more personal for "My December." She also offered a reason as to why her record label didn't listen to the new sound she created for herself.
"Because I'm 25 and a woman," she told Elle. "I am a good singer, so I can't possibly be a good writer. Women can't possibly be good at two things. I haven't lost my temper about it. It only drives me more. If your thing is to bring me down, cool. I'll just work harder."
While Davis might not be a big fan of the musical material written by Clarkson, it was recently recognized by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), which presented Clarkson with its 2007 song of the year award for "Because of You," a "Breakaway" single that she wrote when she was 16-years-old.
"The label didn't even acknowledge her ASCAP awards," Clarkson's manager Jeff Kwatinetz told Elle. "It's upsetting. They don't want her to be a songwriter. They just want her to shut up and sing. They want her to stay their little American Idol."
Davis and RCA might not have paid attention, but Clarkson's hard work on her third album hasn't gone completely unnoticed, as she's received support from within Sony BMG -- RCA's parent company -- as well as from Idol judge Simon Cowell, who told Elle that Clarkson "isn't aware of how good she really is" before adding she's the best Idol champ yet "without question."
"I can't think of anyone who sings better than Kelly Clarkson," Idol co-creator Simon Fuller told Elle. "She is the best young singer in the world right now. She is a global superstar. And fans really identify with her, because of her openness. You feel like she is a friend, that you know her. That sets her apart."
The 25-year-old Fort Woth, TX-native is also receiving encouragement from other females within the music industry -- including friend Reba McEntire, who has performed with Clarkson several times and also had the Idol winner make a cameo on her The CW sitcom Reba.
"It's pretty heavy, what happened to her. She was thrown into the ocean without a life preserver. And she handled it. I don't know that I could have," McEntire told Elle. "Back in the day, female artists were told to perform and then go sit in the corner. Thank God for people like Dolly Parton who took charge. Kelly is the same way. She knows what she wants. She's had a rough go of it in the music business. People think she just won Idol and everything else was easy. Not so. She's had to fight."
Clarkson says she even had to fight over her appearance on Idol Gives Back, the sixth-season charity event that raised money to support organizations that provide relief to children and young people living in poverty in Africa and America.
"My label wanted me to sing 'Never Again,'" Clarkson told Elle, referring to the first single from "My December." "And I was like, 'To promote yourself on a charity event is beyond crass.' People are starving and dying and I'm up there singing some bitter pop song? And believe me, everyone wanted me to sing it. Because they are jaded and they have no soul. Imagine sitting in a room full of people totally against you. Can't they hear themselves speaking? Capitalize on AIDS? Are you kidding? Insulting an entire nation of people? I just refused."
Clarkson instead performed a duet of Patty Griffin's "Up To The Mountain" with British guitarist Jeff Beck.
"It was the depth of her voice that struck me," Beck told Elle of Clarkson's Idol Gives Back performance. "She's got this maturity, you know, this fully developed soul voice that I wasn't expecting. It just knocked me out. It was quite riveting to listen to. At one point, the audience started to stand up. They were so moved by her. She's got that quality that demands attention, which is rare."
While Clarkson described making "My December" as "really hard," she said she has no regrets about its content.
"If I were to make 'Breakaway II,' I would have failed myself," she told Elle. "I don't mind sucking, as long as it is my decision. I have literally been told one of the reasons this record took so long to come together is because I am a girl. This is 2007! We aren't in the '50s anymore. Wake up and smell the Folgers."
The idea of being a role model to other young women makes Clarkson "nervous," however Idol second-season runner-up Clay Aiken says he can't think of anybody better to fill that void.
"She is the most popular pop vocalist in the country," Aiken told Elle. "And to be that girl and not mind being photographed with your hair messed up - that is something. Can you name any other singer who would dare do that? I mean, please... Her new album is a real departure. It's a risk. Kelly is one of those people who really knows who she is. For better or worse, she is her own woman."
(Photo credit Fox)
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