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Kelly Clarkson on Going Country: ‘I Don’t Want to Be Pigeonholed’

Kelly Clarkson
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Despite the critical praise earned in support of ‘Don’t Rush,’ Kelly Clarkson‘s first bona fide country single as the lead artist, the big-voiced Texas native assures her loyal fans in the pop realm that her allegiance to the country format is no way an inclination of any steadfast direction she plans to take with her future recording projects.

“I’m not ever gonna be one thing,” says the now Nashville resident (quote via the Washington Post). “I want great music. I don’t care what it is.”

“I’m not gonna record a country song just to be on country radio,” the singer adds. “I want it to be something I’d legitimately have on my album, if I’m having a pop, R&B, whatever album. I guess it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around. I don’t want to be pigeonholed.”

Clarkson first found success in the country market in 2007 after joining forces with her childhood idol and fellow superstar Reba McEntire for ‘Because of You,’ a re-recorded version of the singer’s pop ballad that narrowly missed the top spot on Billboard’s Country Singles chart. The pop singer reemerged on the country charts in 2011 with ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay,’ her monster duet with Jason Aldean, which earned both superstars multiple weeks at No. 1 and earned the two a pair of ACM trophies for Single of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year earlier this year.

Though Clarkson remixed her 2011 pop hit ‘Mr. Know It All’ for country airplay, ‘Don’t Rush,’ featuring Vince Gill on background vocals, is Clarkson’s first song recorded with the purpose of being serviced to country radio.

It seems odd that Clarkson would find so much success with artists outside her own core format, but the singer admits that it is not a result of a lack of trying. The ‘Stronger’ singer says she has approached non-country artists to collaborate with her on eight different occasions — all of which have said no.

Chris Daughtry (former ‘American Idol’ contestant of the rock band Daughtry) is the only artist that obliged — though their studio creation was scrapped for unknown reasons.

“I have, like, 5,000 duets in country music,” says the singer. “I don’t have one in pop. That’s legitimately because everyone turns me down. I’m not even kidding. I’ve asked sooo many artists to sing with me. Everyone legitimately turns me down! The only one that hasn’t was Chris Daughtry.”

Pop or country, Clarkson seems to be riding high, professionally speaking. The singer is about to release ‘Greatest Hits – Chapter One,’ her first hits collection in celebration of a 10 successful years the business. Out Nov. 19, the package features ‘Don’t Rush,’ as well as her current pop smash, ‘Catch My Breath.’

Next: Banned Country Songs

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