But now, the 36-year-old reveals she will do plenty of songs that, perhaps surprisingly, aren't hers.
"We're switching it up this year on tour and I'm covering all these artists that inspired me to make music or new songs that came out that really inspired me to keep going," Clarkson told Marie Claire. "It's really about inspiration this year. My point with that is that I'm going to be covering songs that I probably shouldn't, but I'm going to do it anyway!"
Never one to conform to a mold, Clarkson is proud of how she has stood her ground so far – and has no plans of changing anytime soon.
"In my whole career, for like for 16 years now, they're trying to get you to do stuff they think is going to win, and I'm like 'Look, if my ship sinks, that's totally fine, but I want to be the one at the helm. I want to be the one steering the boat.' It's cool if it sinks and it doesn't work out, but I don't want it to sink [with] me relying and thinking somebody else is going to make something happen for me and compromise to a point to where it's not me," she said.
"You only get one life, right? Or that we know," she added. "And if we're going to be back, I'd better be a man cause this female stuff is hard [laughs]."
"Even in the pilot, people were trying to get me to go somewhere with one of the guests on the show," Clarkson recalled. "It was really cool though, because the people on my team understood right off the bat. I was like, 'Look, I totally get why you're doing this.' I don't want that kind of show, where we're pushing people just to make a headline. I don't ever want to make someone uncomfortable.
"I want people's voices to be heard," she continued. "I've just been on the receiving end of that a lot. I just want quality, and I want heart, and I want humor, and that's all."
Clarkson's proudest achievement so far isn't her fame or fortune, but that she's been able to stay true to herself, in spite of the evolving music industry.
"Even before Idol, when I lived out in L.A. and [I turned] things down that possibly could have ended up making money or having a record deal," Clarkson said. "Even when I was a little kid, I saw enough documentaries or biographies about people that regretted so much in the beginning because they did something they didn't want to do, and I didn't want that to be me. So I think I'm just proud of the fact that hasn't ever changed in me."0comments
Clarkson's Meaning of Life Tour will kick off on Jan. 24 in Oakland, California. Find dates at KellyClarkson.com.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Jeff Kravitz