May 18, 2024

Kelly Clarkson spills the tea on the ‘most captivating’ artist she’s collaborated with. Find out who stole her heart in the studio!

Kelly Clarkson has firmly established herself as one of the most successful artists in pop music history since winning the inaugural season of American Idol in 2002.

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With over 25 million albums sold worldwide and two Grammy Awards to her name, Clarkson is known for her powerhouse vocals and ability to effortlessly crossover between genres. However, what Clarkson may be most renowned for is her willingness to collaborate with other talented artists. Throughout her career, Clarkson has proven to be a champion of collaboration, regularly teaming up with country, pop, and R&B heavyweights alike. Here’s a closer look at three of Clarkson’s most notable collaborations over the years.

Jason Aldean – “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

One of Clarkson’s earliest and most impactful collaborations came in 2010 when she joined forces with country superstar Jason Aldean. The pair recorded the duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” for Aldean’s album My Kinda Party. Upon its release, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” was an instant smash, topping both the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. It marked Clarkson’s first major foray into country music and helped further cement Aldean as one of the genre’s biggest male artists.

Beyond the commercial success, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” received widespread critical acclaim for Clarkson and Aldean’s incredible vocal chemistry. Clarkson effortlessly blended her powerful pop vocals with Aldean’s grittier country style. Their undeniable charisma together was on full display in the song’s steamy music video as well. At the 2011 Grammy Awards, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” earned Clarkson and Aldean a nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, exposing Clarkson’s talents to an even broader audience.

Looking back, the collaboration held special significance for both artists in taking their careers to new heights. In an interview with Billboard, Aldean reflected on working with Clarkson, saying “It was awesome to get to sing with someone as talented as her. Her voice is so recognizable. To have that on one of my songs, it just took it to a whole other level for me as far as exposure.” For Clarkson, the experience of recording a country hit helped expand her musical versatility. It paved the way for more genre-blending collaborations down the line. Over a decade later, “Don’t You Wanna Stay” remains one of Clarkson and Aldean’s most celebrated duets.

Reba McEntire – 2018 CMA Awards

In November 2018, Clarkson returned to the CMA Awards stage for a showstopping medley with country legend Reba McEntire. Looking to honor McEntire’s illustrious career on the occasion of her being named one of CMA’s “Female Vocalists of All Time,” Clarkson was the perfect choice to join forces. The two powerhouses effortlessly blended their signature styles on a mashup of some of their biggest hits including “Because of You,” “Fancy,” “Does He Love You,” and “Before He Cheats.”

Clarkson and McEntire’s vocal prowess was in full effect throughout the high-energy performance. However, it was their genuine camaraderie and ability to seamlessly pass the spotlight between each other that truly resonated with viewers. Their infectious stage presence and clear admiration for one another’s talents left the Bridgestone Arena audience and millions of television viewers on their feet by the end. Critics hailed it as “one of the best and most memorable moments” of the entire ceremony.

Looking back, McEntire has expressed immense gratitude towards Clarkson for helping make one of the highlights of her illustrious career even more special. In a 2019 interview, she gushed, “Kelly Clarkson, she’s just the best. For her to want to be a part of that moment with me at the CMAs, that meant the world to me.” The performance served as yet another example of Clarkson using her platform to honor legacy artists while also pushing her own country music credentials. Her collaboration with McEntire demonstrated why she remains one of the genre’s most beloved crossover performers.

John Legend – “People Like Us”

On her 2017 album Meaning of Life, Clarkson debuted another impactful collaboration – this time in the form of the emotional ballad “People Like Us” with multi-talented singer-songwriter John Legend. Clarkson has cited the song’s powerful message of unity and understanding as particularly resonating with her in the current political climate. She reached out to Legend, known for his own socially conscious anthems, to help bring the song’s message of hope to the next level.

And bring it to the next level they did. Clarkson and Legend’s vocals are sheer perfection intertwining together on the uplifting track. Their raw emotion and ability to build the song to an incredible crescendo is spine-tingling. Lyrically, they tackle themes of fighting prejudice and bringing people together across divisions. But it’s the stirring melody and their passionate delivery that really drives the song’s impact home.

Upon the album’s release, critics singled out “People Like Us” as a shining moment. Entertainment Weekly praised it as a “rousing anthem of unity” and proof of Clarkson’s ability to “use her powerhouse voice for messages of compassion.” For Legend, the collaboration represented another opportunity to use his platform for good. He said working with Clarkson was “inspiring” and he was proud to be “part of a song with such an important message.”

Years later, Clarkson still cites “People Like Us” as one of her most meaningful recordings. In 2020, she reflected, “That song still gives me chills. The message behind it is more important now than ever.” Legend clearly feels the same way about the importance of their collaborative effort. Time and again, Clarkson has proven her talent and status as a mainstream artist do not prevent her from lending her voice to tracks with deeper significance. Her partnerships with socially conscious performers like Legend show why she remains one of music’s most versatile and impactful voices.

Throughout her unparalleled career, Kelly Clarkson has cemented her status as a champion of collaboration. Whether branching into new genres, honoring icons, or lending her voice to tracks with purpose, Clarkson consistently uses collaboration to both expand her artistic horizons and spotlight other talented artists. The relationships she’s built with artists spanning multiple genres have not only resulted in some of her most memorable recordings but helped introduce her powerful voice to countless new fans. More than 20 years after her American Idol coronation, Clarkson’s willingness to collaborate remains one of the hallmarks of her legacy. She continues to set an example for how mainstream superstars can use their platform to the benefit of both new and established talent across all genres.


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