On Friday’s episode of her talk show, Clarkson belted out an extraordinary version of Etta James’ hit soul ballad “I’d Rather Go Blind” — honoring both a legendary singer and an important day.
The caption that accompanied the clip on the official “Kelly Clarkson Show” YouTube channel read, “Kelly chose this song by a prominent Black recording artist in recognition of Juneteenth.”
For those unfamiliar with the annual celebration, which is also referred to as Freedom Day, Black Independence Day and Jubilee Day, it’s an occasion that marks the end of slavery in the U.S. In particular, the date commemorates the day many previously enslaved people in Texas learned of their freedom — on June 19, 1865.
This year is the 155th annual celebration of Juneteenth.
But Clarkson’s selection of James’ classic on Juneteenth does more than honor the holiday and the singer — it harks back to the origins of Clarkson’s career, too.
Clarkson has long loved the work of the late soul singer, and back in 2002, she got her big break by singing another James hit, “At Last,” for her audition on the very first season of “American Idol.”
She went on to become the first champ of the talent-search show.