Kelly Clarkson’s marriage to her manager Brandon Blackstock had always seemed strong. They wed in 2013 following a year-long romance. After that, they worked and parented together: they have two children, River Rose and Remington Alexander. But come 2020 Clarkson shared a sudden update that left fans of the couple reeling.
An interview conducted just before the announcement hinted that maybe all wasn’t well in the Clarkson household. In June Clarkson had a chat with the magazine show Glamour Unfiltered and discussed spending time with her family during lockdown. She was asked by the interviewer, “How are you coping right now?”
Clarkson answered, “Honestly, I have been on an emotional roller coaster. This has been really hard as a working parent, because I’m still doing all the same jobs. It’s been exhausting honestly, cooking every meal and cleaning nonstop after toddlers and teenagers! Everybody’s learning from home now and the teaching! So, everything has been crazy.”
The singer went on, “What’s so interesting about this time as well is that there’s so much pressure on you to be this ‘amazing’ stay-at-home mom, whilst being a working mom.” With regards to that pressure she said, “Especially in this time, I’ve definitely reminded people that I work with I’m doing the best I can.”
Then Clarkson said, “I’m literally holding down so many things right now. Not only jobs, but even things where we usually had a lot more help. We are fortunate, so I’m not complaining in that sense, but I’ve definitely had to [say to] people that I work with, ‘You hired a mom and I’m not an absentee mom. I’m a full-on mom.’ I already have abandonment issues, so I don’t want to pass those down.”
Asked about the abandonment problem, Clarkson said, “I don’t think you get rid of that. I have people in my life that suffer from addiction to certain things and that doesn’t go away. It’s always there. It’s just navigating your life around that existence in your life. You don’t ever one day wake up and are like, ‘Okay, I’m totally cool with the fact that I have major abandonment issues,’ because horrible things happened.”
Yet everything had seemed ideal about the Clarkson-Blackstock relationship at first. They had actually first met all the way back in 2006, at the American Country Music Awards. Clarkson had been performing with Rascal Flatts, and Blackstock was managing that group at the time. His father, Navel Blackstock, was managing Clarkson.
In 2012 after Clarkson and Blackstock had begun dating, Clarkson told the story to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show. She said, “We met years ago when I was working with Rascal Flatts, and he used to tour manage with him. I didn’t really know he was [my manager’s] son and it was kind of weird. I was like, ‘Dude, I gotta know that guy.’”
Clarkson went on, “We were just in a room together, and then he came up and said he was from the same hometown as me and I was like, ‘Oh, we’re so getting married,’ I was so that girl. When he became single, I was on the prowl.” And obviously, she was able to nab her man before too long.
The young singer appeared to be completely head-over-heels in love. Clarkson appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in November 2012 and declared, “I am not alone for the first time for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I’m very happy, Seriously, I’ve been praying for so long and he’s so great, so I get to spend it with someone.”
Clarkson also added, “We are totally gonna get married, we love each other,” and of course she was right. A month later she announced on social media, “I’M ENGAGED!!!!! I wanted y’all to know!! Happiest night of my life last night! I am so lucky and am with the greatest man ever.”
By October 2013 the pair were married, and Clarkson wrote about that on social media too. She shared, “I’m officially Mrs. Blackstock :) We got married yesterday at Blackberry Farms in TN, the most beautiful place ever!” Nonetheless, there was a prenup; Clarkson and Blackstock had signed the agreement just five days before the wedding.
Clarkson and Blackstock soon began having children together. In 2014 their first baby River Rose came along, and two years later in 2016 she was followed by a brother, Remington. And Blackstock also had two children from a previous relationship, Seth and Savannah. Between them, they all formed a blended family.
It was a kind of life that Clarkson clearly loved. In 2015 she told Redbook magazine, “Brandon is not my other half. He’s a whole and I’m a whole. I’ve never believed in someone taking care of me, and that’s probably because I grew up poor and without a lot of family stability.”
And in 2016 Clarkson went back on Ryan Seacrest’s show and talked about how good a father Blackstock was. She said, “Watching my husband love on his daughter all the time, you know, go to her events and just be there and be present is, like, hard to watch but beautiful to watch. I know that my kids are going to have that.”
But despite all the good things at hand there was a problem, it seemed. Clarkson and Blackstock were both very hard-working people, and it meant they didn’t always have time for each other. In October 2017 Clarkson told TV program Entertainment Tonight, “We have forgotten two out of four of our anniversaries.”
However, Clarkson went on, “But the great thing about us is we collectively do it. It’s not like one of us forgets and one of us remembers. We both epically fail. We’re always very busy. The only times we’ve remembered our anniversary is when we had [it] off. If we’re working, we forget what day it is.”
And in August 2019 Clarkson delved deep into what she believed made the relationship work. She told Entertainment Tonight, “My husband and I, we definitely try to make each other better and call each other out when we do shi**y things but… I think we do really well. We’re lucky.”
Clarkson went on, “We’re a blended family but we believe in the same kind of discipline for our children, we have very similar goals in life, as far as personally, what we want to accomplish. I mean, we’re different, we work on that because we’re two different worlds coming together but it’s working.”
The singer added, “The best advice to give people is you’ve really got to – and this is going to sound really weird but it’s an intimacy vibe – like, you’ve got to be intimate with each other regularly.” In fact, that was something Clarkson was more than happy to talk about. She’d stated before that she’d believed she was asexual before meeting Blackstock.
Indeed, Clarkson brought the subject up on her show in December 2019. When her mentee Brynn Cartelli asked her what she usually did before bed, Clarkson answered, “Well, Brynn, I was single for many years so… I have children, and how one makes children is generally what I do before bed – that’s not a lie.”
But some difficult things were still happening within the Clarkson-Blackstock household. During a May 2020 virtual baby shower, ShowHER Love, Clarkson talked about a medical problem she and her husband hadn’t realized their youngest child had. Four-year-old Remington had been having speech and hearing difficulties.
Clarkson explained on the show, “He had a speech problem because he had this ear problem when he was a baby. We didn’t know. But way deep down in his ears, he got clogged up with a ton of wax where we thought, almost, he was deaf because he spoke as if he was underwater. We found [out] it was something simple, but it pushed him back almost nine months.”
The star went on, “So we’ve been working really hard with his speech and he’s still doing his speech therapist via Zoom. The big milestone for us is Remy getting to really find out his own personality and his identity, because it’s been frustrating for him to not be able to really vocalize his emotion. It’s a really important thing and it’s very frustrating for them and us because we can’t communicate all the time.”
And then not long after that came the big bombshell. The marriage between Clarkson and Blackstock had seemingly met its end. On June 11 media outlets began reporting that Clarkson was asking for a divorce. She filed the papers on June 4, and the reason she gave was apparently “irreconcilable differences.”
Fans of Clarkson were naturally horrified. One person wrote, “Really thought Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock would last.” Others sent messages directly to Clarkson’s Twitter account, sending supportive things such as, “Your fans will always be with you,” and, “Stay positive girl and don’t let the media get to you.”
The couple themselves were saying nothing, so insiders stepped in. One person told TV show E! News, “It came out of nowhere. It’s all so sad for the kids. They were always such a loving family. It never seemed like they had any issues.” Another said that Clarkson and Blackstock had always seemed “very loving towards one another.”
Different sources spoke to Entertainment Tonight at around the same time. One told the website that Clarkson and Blackstock had resorted to divorce “after realizing the relationship hasn’t been working for a while.” They went on, “Kelly and Brandon work together non-stop and that became a contention in their relationship.”
According to that person, there was another thing that might have caused an issue. They said, “Kelly has always brought up wanting more children, which Brandon doesn’t.” Indeed, in a May 2020 interview with Gordon Ramsay, Clarkson had said, “I so want another child, and my husband is like, ‘No! We have four!’”
One source told People magazine that being in quarantine with their children had “exacerbated” the issues already present in the relationship. It made sense that being in close quarters had strained things – and an earlier interview from Clarkson seemed to imply that the couple worked best when they had time apart.
Back in August 2019 Clarkson had told People, “What’s funny about Brandon and I is we have, well, the same temper, the same amount of like, ‘Okay, cool, I was wrong. That was me.’” She added, “He goes off and does stuff with the kids, and then I’ll do something else with the other two. We do a really good job of being like, ‘I need some me time.’”
Other insiders also pointed to the quarantine being the breaking point. On June 11 a source spoke to Entertainment Tonight and said, “Kelly and Brandon had been having problems for several months and were making a conscious effort to work things out. They both hoped quarantining away from L.A. in Montana would help them work things out in their marriage, but instead the change in environment was actually detrimental.”
The source went on, “The constant time together seemed to make an already-challenging situation worse… this recent downtime gave her the time she needed to think about her life and her marriage.” Though Clarkson had been “dreading” divorce, they said, “Kelly knew she just needed to follow her heart and finally realized divorce was her only option.”
According to the source, “Kelly and Brandon haven’t cut each other off; they are still talking to one another. They are both heartbroken, but their plan is to put the kids first. Their focus is on co-parenting and moving forward, as this is the last place they ever thought they would be. They both understand divorce is never easy for children, but Kelly and Brandon are great parents. It’ll just take time.”
The person also brought up the prenup Clarkson and Blackstock had signed a few days before their wedding. They said, “[Clarkson] has always been a very organized businesswoman, so her decision to have a prenup just reflects that and protects her earnings. Kelly is very kindhearted, generous and giving, so Brandon will be just fine.”
Another anonymous source summed it all up to People, saying, “Things had changed in their marriage and the split was a while coming. They both work so hard. It’s nearly impossible to enjoy each other, especially with the children needing constant attention.” They added, “Kelly’s been through a lot, and she thought Brandon was her happily-ever-after. It’s very sad.”
Reports continued to come from anonymous insiders as the story progressed. Clarkson had stopped wearing her wedding ring, the media noted. On June 13 a source told People magazine, “Kelly is spending time in L.A. with her kids. She has been low-key and [has] mostly stayed at home. She seems to be doing okay.”
However, a performance Clarkson gave on June 19 seemed very sad and emotional. Clarkson had covered Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind for Juneteenth celebrations, and people noted that she sang the lyrics “So you see, I love you so much/That I don’t want to watch you leave me baby,” with incredible feeling.
Fans came out in support of Clarkson once again after seeing the performance. Some people tweeted that it made them cry, and another person wrote, “Honestly I feel her speaking through her music. I can’t imagine why she’s getting divorced. I feel so devastated for her but at the same time empowered too. She’s amazing.”
In the Glamour interview, which would have been conducted as Clarkson’s marriage was nearing its end, she mused, “You just take your cards you’re dealt, and you do the best you can with them.” Whatever happens next – and who knows, they may still reconcile – it seems at least that she will be able to handle it.