“It’s nice to do something that betters the quality of someone’s life,” Kelly Clarkson announced to an audience of no more than 150 people at the Highline Ballroom, last night. In a super-intimate environment, Clarkson performed a seven song acoustic set in support of Green Mountain Coffee and the nonprofit, Fair Trade.
The Grammy-winner partnered with the companies to educate others about Fair Trade certified products, which produce sustainable products and help developing countries build sustainable businesses. As a part of the “Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Choose Fair Trade’ Campaign, Clarkson traveled to Peru to visit a coffee farm. She did so in order to experience firsthand the impact Fair Trade has on the coffee-farming communities. Left incredibly inspired, Clarkson shared that, “if you have the chance to travel - do it.” While it would be easy for Clarkson to throw around the stereotypical lines ambassadors are fed, she seemed genuinely invested in stressing Fair Trade’s impact.
Her dedication to educating others on the benefits of travel and the positive impact Fair Trade brings about to other communities was met by Clarkson’s dedication to giving the audience an unforgettable experience. Arenas are something she’s grown used to; performing in front of thousands is second-nature for Clarkson, at this point. She might’ve not been in her usual element, but she never appeared so comfortable. Barefoot, rocking a brand new pedicure, Clarkson truly made the night something extraordinary. It’d be easy for the previous American Idol singer to get on stage, give a generic speech about Fair Trade, and perform a handful of her greatest hits: she could’ve simply left it at that. However, she vehemently expressed her dedication to Fair Trade and to giving the audience something they’d seemingly never forget.
The intimate setting of a small audience, dimmed lights, and only acoustic guitarists and a pianist accompanying Clarkson provided an environment where she could easily breach a new level of emotional connectivity. Even she commented that she absolutely “loved the intimacy.” Her setlist included the a selection of her greatest hits, ranging from the empowering “Walk Away” to the hit that always permits an immediate sing-a-long and flashbacks to Pitch Perfect, “Since U Been Gone.” In a rare occurrence, she captivated the audience with a performance of her song “Sober.” It was fan request, as she rarely plays it. Before even beginning, she made things clear: Clarkson does not suffer from alcoholism. To clarify, “Sober” is about a “terrible relationship” that she kept going back to, or as Clarkson puts sober “is a metaphor.” Though, she jokingly admitted that she’s “young” and “could still have a drinking problem.”
However, what cemented the performance as one to remain embedded in the audience members’ minds were the acoustic renditions. There’s something to be said when artists strip away the production, glamorous props, and supporting instrumentation and solely allow their voices to carry the performance. For Clarkson, she never shines brighter than when she’s doing such. If her crowning of American Idol didn’t already prove so, Clarkson is fiercely independent, never requiring more than her voice to command the stage and demand attention.
With every number one single came the crowd reciting every verse and chorus. Even in such a laid-back environment, the audience never strayed from maintaining a high-energy atmosphere, which Clarkson easily fed off of. Though the free coffee and open bar were tempting, the audience wasn’t there for such. The crowd was there for the experience - the opportunity to say that they saw Clarkson away from her ordinary set, where she showcased the power her voice holds in such an intimate environment.
Proving so throughout her set, Clarkson continues to demonstrate why she still, consistently dominates the charts and remains a success story far greater than any other American Idol alum. Sorry Justin Guarini, but From Justin to Kelly, certainly wasn’t the peak for Clarkson and her career.