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MEET THE GRAMMY CLASS: KELLY CLARKSON

What do you feel is the primary significance of the Grammys at this point?
I think the Grammy’s primary significance is to honor the music that impacted us culturally and emotionally throughout the past year. Also, what I love about the Grammys is that it honors all of the people who help make an album come to life. People may know my name [of the artist], but they don’t always know the name of the engineer who stayed up all night dialing in the sounds, or the names of the other songwriters who helped write their favorite hit. It’s pretty special that there is a night to recognize all of the many talented people who help create the soundtracks to our lives.

What do you feel is the primary significance of the Grammys at this point?
I think the Grammys’ primary significance is to honor the music that impacted us culturally and emotionally throughout the past year. Also, what I love about the Grammys is that it honors all of the people who help make an album come to life. People may know my name, but they don’t always know the name of the engineer who stayed up all night dialing in the sounds, or the names of the other songwriters who helped write their favorite hit. It’s pretty special that there is a night to recognize all of the many talented people who help create the soundtracks to our lives.

You hold the record for most career nominations in the Pop Vocal Album category with four—and congratulations for that. What would you say makes Piece by Piece different from the others?
That’s amazing! I didn’t know that!Piece by Piece is my strongest album lyrically, and I think it has the most cohesive sound as a whole. It is a straight-up pop album, but I think we explored more progressive themes in terms of sounds and subject matter than in albums past.

What do you feel was the effect of working primarily with one producer, Greg Kurstin, on this album, as opposed to the multiple producers you have used on other albums? What makes Greg stand out?
I actually worked with three producers on the album. Greg, Jesse Shatkin (who I met through Greg when Jesse was engineering for him, and who is now a revered producer in his own right), and Jason Halbert, who has been my musical director since American Idol and has also produced many songs for me—including a song we wrote together, “Catch My Breath.”

I had worked with Greg on “Stronger” and my Christmas album, Wrapped in Red, prior to Piece by Piece. It was such an amazing experience. I think what makes him stand out as a producer is his skill as a musician. He can play anything phenomenally. His abilities as a musician give him an advantage, because he doesn’t have to rely on anyone else to interpret his vision—although he does know some other incredible musicians as well. This enables us to move quickly, which we both like to do. It’s so cool to watch him create so effortlessly.

What are the attributes that make you feel a song is ideal for you to sing?
I just want to sing songs that make me feel something in my soul and that sound soulful. Those songs come in all different packages and genres. Sometimes the feeling comes from the lyrics or the sentiment, sometimes the groove. I can’t sing anything that I don’t feel in my core. A song has to make me wanna cry or dance, or evoke some strong emotion deep within.

How has the sound of pop been evolving over the past few years, from your perspective?
I think music, just like fashion, makes its rounds. Right now, we’ve had an ’80s wave with boy bands, synth sounds and tons of layered background parts. It’s just a matter of trying to catch that wave before everyone else does so as to not blend into the masses that jump on the train when it arrives. At the end of the day, I always just make music I love; sometimes I catch the trend beforehand, and sometimes I’m nowhere near it. But as long as I’m happy—because, let’s face it, I’m the one who has to sing these songs until I die—I just wanna be able to empower myself and others via music.•

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