Kelly Clarkson is “keeping her profile low so that audiences won’t tire of her”

Kelly Clarkson has gone from a woman “singing the swollen talent-show ballad A Moment Like This in a prom dress with mascara cascading down [her] face,” as Time’s Josh Tyrangiel puts it, to a woman who will perform at Wednesday’s Grammys, and possibly take home two of the awards. The magazine talks to her to find out just how she accomplished this.

First, she says she had two offers for record deals prior to auditioning for the show, but says, “They would have completely pigeonholed me as a bubblegum act. I was confident enough that something better would come along.”

When that thing did come along, she’s been careful about what she produces. For her second album, she says, she wanted more control. “To be totally honest, the problem was I wanted to write a lot of my own songs on Breakaway. Nobody else wanted me to. So there was a big ol’ fight,” she said. She ended up splitting the difference with producer Clive Davis, writing six of the songs on the record. He says, “I always encourage people to write their own songs, but in the pop arena, where the career is totally dependent on hits, you get skeptical.”

Kelly is content with that album. “I’m 100% happy with my album. I just think it’s funny that all these middle-age guys told me, ‘You don’t know how a pop song needs to sound.’ I’m a 23-year-old girl! But I was fighting those battles alone,” she said. Still, she has more battles ahead, as she’s written 35 new songs, but Davis remains skeptical. “Kelly has shown writing ability, and I think she’s probably going to want to try her hand at writing all her material in the future. I don’t want to dismiss it, I’m rooting for her, but we’ll see,” he says.

Kelly also says she left 19 Entertainment, the company that retains the rights to sign the show’s contestants, because she wasn’t getting a lot of attention. “I love Simon Fuller, but how can somebody you’ve seen five times in three years really look out for you?” Her new managers, “The Firm[,] rejiggered Clarkson’s media strategy, keeping her profile low so that audiences won’t tire of her,” according to the magazine.

Besides trying to shed the American Idol association, Kelly “gave up hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket revenues and spent this past summer touring smaller theaters to hone her performance skills,” Time reports. Kelly says, “I’ve got more than enough money. I plan on making this my life, and I want people to know I can put on a show, that I’m serious about it.”

Miss Independent [Time]