For the first time in 15 years, Kelly Clarkson feels as if she is driving her own career, and has made an album rooted in her favorite sound: soul. 

For the first time in 15 years, Kelly Clarkson feels as if she is driving her own career, and has made an album rooted in her favorite sound: soul. 

KYLE DEAN REINFORD/NYT

Kelly Clarkson is one of Dallas-Fort Worth's biggest music success stories. She won the first season of a cutting-edge show called American Idol 15 years ago, after which "reality" and "TV" became one phrase. Since that rise to the top, Clarkson has done a lot: She released eight albums, married Brandon Blackstock, had two children and won three Grammys, including two in one year for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance ("Since U Been Gone") and Best Pop Vocal Album (Breakaway).

But here's what she hasn't done, according to a big piece in The New York Times by Caryn Ganz:

Fox anchor apologizes for fat-shaming Kelly Clarkson on the radio

"She's not an enigmatic, larger-than-life figure like Beyoncé, or a social-media chess master like Taylor Swift; she's not an outsize persona like Lady Gaga or a style icon like Gwen Stefani. She's not known for dancing, splashy tabloid drama or sparring with other stars -- though she'll shut down body shamers and anyone who spews negativity at her on Twitter. Like Adele, she is known for her tremendous voice, the vulnerability and relatability of her songs and her fearlessness when it comes to speaking her mind."

She's thrust back into the spotlight because of her newest album, Meaning of Life, out Oct. 27, and The New York Times has an interesting story about her life on and off stage. Here are some highlights:

On the sound of the new album: Leaning more into soul, Clarkson admits to the NYT that Meaning of Life is going to be "a harder sell than Since U Been Gone 2.0." She notes that the change in genre is "not the easiest route," in the story. "But it's the only option."

Original 'Idol' winner Kelly Clarkson sings through tears in emotional farewell performance

On Clarkson's musical inspiration: Aretha Franklin. "What if Aretha was born now and made a record today?" she said, explaining Meaning of Life.

On what Clarkson has done in her past lives: She was a waitress, a Red Bull promo girl and an employee at Papa John's, the article reveals.

On her self worth: "It's weird, but I actually came with a brain, not just vocal cords, and it would be silly to not have an opinion," she told the NYT. "It would be a disgrace if I didn't have an opinion. It would be a cruel irony to all these people who live in different countries who don't have an opinion, and don't count, for me not to take full advantage of all the opportunities that are laid before us here in this nation."

Next up for Clarkson: well, a lot more, probably. But here's what we know: She'll be joining The Voice as a coach.

This image released by Atlantic shows "Meaning of Life," by Kelly Clarkson. 

This image released by Atlantic shows "Meaning of Life," by Kelly Clarkson. 

/Atlantic via AP
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