Kelly Clarkson is currently gearing up for the fourth season premiere of her talk show, but she’s also ready to bring new music to her fans.
In an exclusive interview for this week’s Variety cover story, Clarkson reveals that she has recorded a new album, which she plans to release in 2023.
The album will mark Clarkson’s first major studio album in more than five years, following 2017’s “Meaning of Life.” (The singer released a holiday album, “When Christmas Comes Around,” in 2021.)
“It’s coming out next year. And this is an important album,” Clarkson tells Variety. “I’m working on this in therapy: I have a hard time vocalizing what I’m feeling sometimes, so music is helpful for me. It’s just been really healing. I recorded the record quite some time ago.”
In recent years, Clarkson has released holiday music and a summer 2022 “Kellyoke” album, modeled after the popular opening segment of her talk show, “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” And in just a few days, she will release a new rendition of “9 to 5” with Dolly Parton.
Clarkson tells Variety that her upcoming album is two years in the making. Her new music is inspired by the emotional journey she went through during her divorce from her ex-husband, music manager Brandon Blackstock, with whom she shares two young children.
“When my ex and I first separated, there were many emotions. It was hard,” Clarkson says. “My producer and I were laughing yesterday because I was like, ‘Remember that time we wrote, like, 25 songs in a week?’ A lot of those are the ones that are on the album. I literally wrote most of these almost two years ago. Then I told my label, ‘I can’t talk about this until I’ve gone through it,’ and it’s just taken some time to do that. That’s one of the reasons we’ve done a lot of Christmas stuff the past two years — because I was like, ‘Well, that’s happy!’”
She continues, “I hadn’t really been working hardcore on an album until I needed to. I was just very busy. There were so many jobs, and I’m a single mom — well, even with being married, it’s a lot, trying to fit kids’ schedules in and all that stuff. But then the whole divorce thing happened, and I needed to write it. And then I didn’t know if I was going to release it, because you can be very angry in that state of mind. So some of the songs, they definitely cover the gamut of emotions; there’s everything on the album. It’s almost like the arc of a relationship, because the beginning is so beautiful and so sweet, and then it evolves. And sometimes it doesn’t evolve how you want.”
The upcoming album will be released by Clarkson’s label, Atlantic Records. She teases that she hopes to get back onstage – though she’ll have to figure out a touring schedule, given her busy life juggling “The Kelly Clarkson Show” with “The Voice,” not to mention parenting. (Plus, it’s not like she hasn’t been singing regularly, given that “Kellyoke” has her belting out a different song on every episode of her talk show.)
“I definitely am going to do shows. We’re figuring that out,” Clarkson says. “But when you write an album that’s so personal, it’s just therapeutic to be able to get up there.”
She says that the only way she’ll be able to fit in a tour of some sort is during the summer when her talk show is on hiatus. “I know there are other guys and girls out there that have been through this kind of breakup who are going to need to scream at the top of their lungs — you can come and join me,” she says.
In fact, Clarkson says her fans are the ones who inspired her to release this album in the first place.
“The one reason that ended up making me go, ‘I should put this out’ is that most of the songs in my career that people will generally come up to me [about] are the ones that are stories inspired by my life that maybe they go through as well,” Clarkson says. Speaking of her divorce, she adds, “I’m through it now, but there is somebody else who is in it, and that’s a hard place to be, especially if you feel alone. It’s a hard thing to describe, it’s a hard thing to go through publicly, it’s hard with kids. This record, I think I wrote this for a reason — not just for me, but maybe someone else can benefit from it.”