Kelly Clarkson is an artist who gives a lot to her audience. Her songs have, from the beginning, come from a deeply personal place. Kelly had a difficult upbringing that was painful from a young age, and she often makes references to her childhood in many of her songs.
Kelly is a Texas native, born to Jeanne Ann and Stephen Michael Clarkson. She is the youngest of three. She has an older brother, Jason, and an older sister, Alyssa. Their parents went through an ugly divorce when Kelly was 6 years old. Her sister went to live with an aunt, and her brother lived with their dad for a while. This left Kelly home with her mom. From that point forward, Kelly’s relationship with her father became estranged.
As time went on, Jeanne Ann remarried, giving Kelly five stepsiblings. Stephen Michael also remarried, giving her another two stepsiblings. Kelly never connected with her father. The two remain estranged. Kelly has worked through the emotions of that situation in several songs across her discography. During a performance of one of those songs, “Piece by Piece,” on her Los Angeles tour date, she dissolved into tears as her kids looked on from the audience.
It included lyrics that really resonated with audiences, including, “Because of you/ I don’t know how to let anyone else in/ Because of you/ I’m ashamed of my life because it’s empty/ Because of you/ I am afraid.” The song helped Kelly snag the first of her three Grammy Awards.
Kelly opened up about the complex relationship in an interview with Scandinavian talk show Skavlan last year. She explained that while a lot of people feel sorry for the circumstances between her and her father, she doesn’t feel too badly about it anymore.
Kelly also explained that while she had made attempts at a connection, she couldn’t justify trying after a while. “You’re like, I shouldn’t have to work this hard for someone’s love. Like, that’s a little ridiculous.”
As she settled into adulthood, she realized that her father’s shortcomings were his own and not a reflection of her. “At that point, too, you grow up so much to where you go, OK, I don’t even think you’re capable [of love].”
The lyrics read, “I will never leave her like you left me/ And she will never have to wonder her worth/ Because unlike you I’m going to put her first and you know/ He’ll never walk away/ He’ll never break her heart/ He’ll take care of things, he’ll love her/ Piece by piece, he restored my faith/ That a man can be kind and the father should be great.”