At the “Music’s Leading Ladies Speak Out” presentation at the Music Biz conference on Tuesday, Atlantic Records co-chairman/COO Julie Greenwald told a story that more than lived up to the event’s name. She was speaking of the first time she heard the forthcoming new album — and Atlantic debut — from Kelly Clarkson.
“I put the record on and it was like she kicked through the door,” Greenwald said in a Q&A session with Clarkson moderated by NPR’s Ann Powers. “I say to people all the time: I run a record company, I could eat you, that’s part of my rep. And we all know Kelly has this big voice. But these songs have so much attitude. She’s not walking through the door, she’s kicking it the f— open.”
She may have been talking about an album, but Greenwald set the theme for the presentation — which also featured an introduction from Nielsen Music SVP Erin Crawford and a panel with CMT senior vice president Leslie Fram, Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern, Red Light artist manager Tracy Gershon and Cosynd CEO/Women in Music president Jessica Sobhraj — offering insights on how to bring more women into the industry as artists and professionals.
“It’s got a lot of sass — like I might beat you up with my sound,” Clarkson said of her still-untitled album, which she says is a mixture of “urban, pop, soulful R&B” and is due later in the year. “My backup singers who’ve worked with me for years said ‘It’s the first time you’ve done a record that’s, like, full-on your personality.’”
For an artist who began her career by topping a favored Justin Guarini in the first season of “American Idol,” sparred publicly with music industry titan Clive Davis and is known for empowering songs like “Stronger” and “Since U Been Gone,” that’s saying something.“I’ve always been a confident person, I think that’s just being Texan,” Clarkson said. “But I think being a mom has brought another level of confidence, because basically the things a mom does daily — without adding a job — is pretty insane. We’re gladiators, basically.”
Finding that elusive work/life balance that also allows an artist or professional to chase her passion was a key topic during the two-hour discussion.
Greenwald explained how she rose through the ranks under the tutelage of Lyor Cohen, with whom she worked at Rush Management, Def Jam Records and Atlantic. She said she was often the only woman in the room and found ways to engineer greater acceptance for herself in the highest levels of the industry. She believes in building an environment that fosters risk-taking and free-form ideas, things that helped her and Cohen innovate on the frontlines of hip-hop in the early 1990s.
“Lyor was incredible,” she said. “He allowed me to be fearless. He encouraged me every day to take risks, and I take everything that I learned from him and share that with everybody that I mentor,” Greenwald said. “But one thing I did change is he really didn’t let me take maternity leave with either of my kids. There were just certain things like that where if I’d had a woman boss, maybe she would say, ‘You could at least take a week off.’”
She fights that syndrome now, trying to help her employees avoid the familiar traps she fell into.
“I really only see my children in the morning and then on the weekend,” Greenwald said. “So I really try to make sure the other women who work for me know, ‘Hey, listen, you have an iPhone, you have a laptop, it’s okay. Don’t miss certain events, because you’re not going to get them back. I try to teach a lot of my young ones to learn from my mistakes. That new-baby smell goes away and they become smelly!”
She said she admires Clarkson’s fierce protection of family time — the singer has a blended family of four children with husband and Nashville manager Brandon Blackstock — or at least including them in her life.
“She protects her family,” Greenwald said. “‘I’m going to work, I’m going to kick ass, but I’m going to protect my time for my family. As a woman, I respect that so much.”
The panelists stressed the importance of networking, building relationship and supporting other women to the scores of young female professionals and students in the several-hundred-strong crowd.
“Find the people that are your people,” Trahern said. “Tracy and I have been walking in the park on the weekends for many years. We may only get to do it a few times a year, but you can cut to the chase even if you don’t see each other often. We all grew up in this generation together. You find those people in your group and you’re going to grow together.”
And everyone agreed passion was the most important hallmark they look for when mentoring and placing potential employees.
“You’ve just got to roll your sleeves up and do it,” Sobrahj said. “Nothing pisses me off more than having an intern or an assistant who says, ‘I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to draft those tweets. I’m not going to get that coffee.’ I’m the CEO of my company and I’ll go get anybody a cup of coffee. I don’t care — because if you’re not going to roll your sleeves up and dive in, then why are you doing it?”
Gershon told a story that vividly illustrated Sobrahj’s point and demonstrated the lengths to which she’ll go to help a client — in this case rockabilly singer/guitarist Rosie Flores.
“She needed $1,500 to go into the studio,” Gershon said. “I said, ‘I know — I’ll [get the money by] going on a game show.’ I dressed up in the dumbest outfit and frosted my hair and jumped up and down like a wild goose and told them I was a senior aerobics instructor — and yes, I got on that show. It was called ‘Hot Streak.’ I won $1,600 and luggage, and literally that’s how we got Rosie in the studio. And basically, [the resulting recordings] won her a deal with Warner Bros.”
Kelly Clarkson will join NBC’s “The Voice” as a coach for season 14, Variety has learned.
The pop star and season-one “American Idol” champion will join longtime coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine for the NBC talent-competition series’ spring 2018 cycle. A fourth coach for the season has not yet been set. Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus are already confirmed to be joining regulars Levine and Shelton this fall for the show’s 13th season.
Clarkson had been in long-simmering talks about possibly joining “The Voice” for an upcoming season. She was approached by the show multiple times in the past and had expressed interest, but had been unable to work its production cycle into her schedule.
Both Clarkson and Shelton are represented by Narvel Blackstock’s Starstruck Entertainment.
Clarkson had been approached in recent weeks to join “American Idol” as judge for its upcoming relaunch on ABC. The deal with “The Voice” scuttles any possible return to “Idol” for Clarkson, who was the winner of the talent competition’s first season in 2002 and appeared as a guest judge during the show’s 15th and final season on Fox.
With season 14 of “The Voice” set to premiere in February, Clarkson will likely be spinning her chair at NBC at the same time that ABC’s “Idol,” expected to debut in March, is getting off the ground. The two shows could even find themselves going head-to-head. ABC has committed to roughly 40 hours of “Idol,” making it highly likely that the show will air two nights a week, as it did on Fox. According to sources, ABC is eyeing Sunday as one of those nights. The end of the spring cycle of “The Bachelor” in mid-March would open up Monday evenings for an hour-long weekly “Idol” results show. There it could face NBC’s regular 8-10 p.m. episode of “The Voice.”
In addition to being the first “Idol” champion, Clarkson is also one of its most distinguished alums, having risen to pop-star status on the strength of singles such as “Since U Been Gone.” Clarkson was also a judge on ABC’s short-lived singing competition “Duets.” In addition to manager Blackstock, she is represented by CAA.
“I’m so excited to join ‘The Voice’ at NBC,” Clarkson said. “We’ve gone back and forth about a role as a coach for years, but the timing hasn’t been right until now. I have always loved appearing on the show as an adviser or performer and established an amazing relationship with the network during my Christmas special. I can’t wait to turn my chair and see the faces of up-and-coming artists and provide them with the help and support they’ve needed to break into the industry. Watch out Shelton, I’m comin’ to win!!”
“Kelly has been a part of ‘The Voice’ family for many years as an adviser and performer. We are thrilled she has chosen to join us as a coach to mentor the next generation through our unique vocal boot camp,” said Paul Telegdy, president, alternative and reality group, NBC Entertainment. “Every time Kelly Clarkson sings you are reminded what an incredible voice really is. We are looking forward to the sound of Kelly Clarkson on ‘The Voice.’”
As ABC prepares to reboot American Idol, TMZ is reporting that perhaps the show’s most iconic champion, season one winner Kelly Clarkson, is clearing her schedule to potentially take a seat at the judge’s table. According to the site, three-time Grammy winner Clarkson is the network’s first choice for judge and it has expressed “serious interest” in signing on Clarkson, one of the show’s biggest success stories.
While a spokesperson for Clarkson told Billboard on Wednesday (May 10) there was no comment on the report, TMZ said, “We’re told she’s not only interested, but people on her team are already looking to clear her schedule during the time the show will be filmed.” TMZ previously reported that instead of traveling from city-to-city for nationwide auditions, home base for the try-outs will be at Disney World and possibly Disneyland, in Florida and California, respectively. A spokesperson for Idol could not be reached for comment at press time.
While none of the judges have yet been named for the show, speculation has swirled around the potential for Ryan Seacrest to return as host. The recently installed Live With Kelly and Ryan co-star was the face of the show for all 15 seasons, and on Monday morning (May 8) he made it seem like he might be open to finding time for it in his incredibly hectic schedule.
“I said at the end of the series, ‘Goodbye for now,’ hoping somewhere it would come back,” said Seacrest, who, in addition to appearing as co-host on the New York-based talk show in the morning with Ripa, also hosts his own morning radio show.
Summer is almost here, which means new episodes of ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud” are almost here.
The show begins its third season on Sunday, June 11 at 8PM EDT.
Steve Harvey returns as host, while celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Amy Schumer, Kandi Burruss, Ashley Graham, Chrissy Metz, George Lopez, Kyle Massey and more will compete alongside family and friends.
There will also be a handful of thematic “families,” including cast members from “Shark Tank” and “Dancing With The Stars,” members of boy bands and girl groups, and legends from the MLB and NBA.
The planned match-ups are as follows (all bios/descriptions via ABC):
Amy Schumer – Award-winning comedian, writer, producer and actress, whose credits include “Trainwreck,” the upcoming feature film “Snatched” and her TV series “Inside Amy Schumer”; playing for Everytown for Gun Safety
Kim Caramele – Amy’s sister; writer and producer known for her work on “Trainwreck,” “Inside Amy Schumer” and the “2015 MTV Movie Awards”
Kevin Kane – Amy’s friend; actor known for his work on “Trainwreck” and “Inside Amy Schumer”
Jason Stein – Amy’s brother; a bass clarinetist in the band Locksmith Isidore
Cayce Dumont – Amy’s sister-in-law who helped write Amy’s memoir “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo”
Kelly Clarkson – Singer/songwriter, author and a Grammy®-award winner with album sales exceeding over 25 million worldwide; playing for The Dollywood Foundation
Alyssa Watson – Kelly’s sister
Shane Tarleton – Kelly’s friend; vice president and creative director of Warner Music Nashville
Ashley Donovan – Kelly’s childhood friend and singer on Kelly’s albums
Tricia Farrow – Kelly’s personal assistant