First Idol to prove she doesn't need 'Idol'

Kelly Clarkson has silenced any doubters. As the first winner of “American Idol” in 2002, skeptics wondered if her career had staying power once the “Idol” spotlight turned elsewhere. But her 2003 debut disc “Thankful” topped 3 million units in less than a year, and there was no sophomore jinx on her second disc, “Breakaway,” which debuted at No. 3 on the sales charts in 2004. It has since sold 6 million copies. Ticket sales of her 2006 Addicted tour — launched in June and hitting sheds and state fairs — are brisk. She also picked up a pair of Grammy Awards earlier this year. Her only obvious misstep in the past four years was her appearance in the “American Idol” film flop “From Justin to Kelly.” The further she gets from “Idol,” it seems the better off she is. “Kelly’s success has killed any skepticism whether an ‘Idol’ winner can have a career past the first album,” says Clive Davis. “Plus, she is popular outside the U.S. where there is no ‘Idol.’”

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