Kelly Clarkson reflects on 18th anniversary of her 'American Idol' win

The singer marked the anniversary of her win on the first season of "American Idol" by urging others to "seek out what keeps that fire in you burning."
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Eighteen years ago, Kelly Clarkson was an unknown singer taking her shot at stardom on the first season of a new talent show called "American Idol."

Clarkson, 38, reflected on Friday about the moment her life transformed when she became the show's inaugural winner in 2002, paving the way for platinum album sales, multiple Grammy Awards and now a successful daytime talk show.

Kelly Clarkson celebrated the 18th anniversary of her "American Idol" win by urging others to "seek out what keeps that fire in you burning."Kevin Winter / Getty Images

"18 years ago today was the finale of the first season of American Idol and it changed my life!" she tweeted. "I’m still hustlin 18 years later because I know I am blessed to have the opportunities and I still love my purpose! Find your purpose! Seek out what keeps that fire in you burning 🔥 ❤️"

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Clarkson spoke to Katie Couric on TODAY in 2002 in the wake of her victory, recalling all the jobs she worked before her swift rise to fame on "American Idol."

"I've been everything," she said. "My friends are probably laughing right now ... waitress, I've done everything. Oh, I've worked for the zoo, I've worked for bookstores, I've been a telemarketer, I've done door-to-door sales, you name it. I'm a performer, you never want that job, you always want to do singing, so you're never satisfied."

The Fox show went on for 15 seasons after producing a bona fide superstar in its first attempt at picking the most talented performer from thousands of singers. "American Idol" got picked up again in 2018 and continues today.

Clarkson also looked back on those days last year when she had the three judges who selected her as the winner as guests on "The Kelly Clarkson Show."

She reunited with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, who credited Clarkson's ascent on that first season for much of the show's ensuing success.

"I actually genuinely do not believe we would be sitting here today if you hadn't entered the show that year," Cowell said. "The whole premise of the show was we had to find a star who was gonna sell records. We found some great people that whole year but when you delivered that moment on that first live show, when you sang that winning song at the end ..."

"It was a game-changer," Abdul said.

The three-time Grammy winner has now become a coach herself on the NBC singing competition "The Voice," which she excitedly announced on Friday will be returning for its 19th season in October.

The singer has also stepped in for her old friend Cowell as a guest judge on "America's Got Talent" after Cowell suffered serious injuries in a bike accident last month.