Meeting Kelly Clarkson

There are many times that I think “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” I actually enjoy my job, on the regular day to day. Being on air is interesting and challenging: trying to find different ways to connect with our audience, to elicit a response from them when so many things are holding their attention. Scrolling through my social media accounts (personal and those for the station) multiple times a day; using it as a tool to connect with our listeners 24/7 is time consuming, but yes, I still enjoy it. Brainstorming different on location and on air promotions down to the smallest detail requires creativity, patience, and an open mind. And, most important to me, I laugh a lot. Even on Mondays, when most of the day is spent at my desk going through the data for the music were playing, I still think “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

However, there are certain experiences that make me realize how lucky I am, how cool this whole industry is, and those experiences are extremely rewarding and rejuvenate my drive and focus. Thursday night at Kelly Clarkson’s house was one of them.

Have you ever had that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be feeling? I had that feeling as I flew over Nashville on Thursday. I immediately was drawn to the city and all its positive vibes, and felt like at that moment in time, that everything was exactly right. To most people’s surprise, I am not an outgoing person. I tend to be quiet in large groups when I’m surrounded by people that I don’t know, and stepping into a room full of people I don’t know, without a safety net, usually draws up a decent amount of anxiety. Having to go somewhere and be “on” sounds terrible to me. But this was different.

The record label arranged for a shuttle from the airport the hotel, then from the hotel to the listening party. We had a pre-party happy hour at the hotel then all shipped over to KC’s house. I cozied up some people that I met on the shuttle from the airport, but also tried to meet some other programmers while at the hotel bar. Once we got to Kelly’s house (I used her bathroom, I’m totally cool to be on a first name basis with her right?!), I was geeking TF out. LIKE ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! THIS IS HAPPENING?! We went through her gate and down her driveway. Caterers met us at the entrance to her backyard, trays full of drinks that looked delicious (I wasn’t drinking that night but I heard they were good!), and then there we are: in her backyard, in her house, at her bar.

I mingled. I actually mingled. I introduced myself to as many people as I could. I asked about their city, their station, and their career. I met a ton of cool people from all over the country. I even ran into some people that I know (shout out to Will Calder from Power 96 in Miami, and Sid Kelly from WABD in Mobile)! I met Kelly Clarkson, who is sweet and funny and the most normal person. She told me I looked like Wonder Woman (yes, I’ve told everybody she said that) and we took a selfie.

Then it was time for her to talk about her new music. Full transparency: I’ve always admired Kelly’s (and yes, we’re sticking with the first name thing) talent and class. But her music was never for me. Most of her songs had a similar sound (just like how One Republic’s songs all sound alike), and while I could always see the mass appeal and will even sing along (they are catchy AF), I could take it or leave her music–at least the singles because I never delved deep into her catalog. But she’s always had killer pipes, and since I’ve heard Love So Soft, I was really excited to hear what she had been working on.

She got on stage, got on the mic, and was freaking hilarious. Legitimately. Not in like a “oh haha we have to laugh because she’s a celebrity and we’re at her house” kind of way. She made me laugh for real, because she’s real. Then she intro’d 5 different songs, talked about how they came to be, and what they meant to her. She jammed to her own music on stage (I get it; I laugh at my own jokes) and I appreciated her being a fan of what she’s produced–she should be, those songs were f-ing good. Her voice has such power and her vocal range is amazing and something to be admired. Her sound is genuine and soulful. I look forward to seeing what she releases next.

After listening to music, it was back to mingling, and I sat down to a plate of the best Mississippi Mud Pie I’ve ever had in my life, alongside a programmer from Boise and his wife. Then I introduced myself to Atlantic Records Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald and told her how amazing this is, how thankful I am to be here, and how I’m really just trying to keep my shit together.

The whole event, even now, I think “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

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