‘American Idol’ notes: Kelly Clarkson, Vanessa Olivarez, James Durbin, Carrie Underwood, Trent Harmon

Originally posted by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Let’s recap the very first “Kelly Clarkson Show”!

Her syndicated show, which is airing in many markets before Ellen DeGeneres in the afternoons, has a 2:05 a.m. slot in Atlanta so I couldn’t watch until Tuesday morning. (Yes, Atlanta is the only major market that has her buried in a graveyard time slot.)

She opened with Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” It was requested by a female auto mechanic who participated in a video in which Clarkson played a mechanic, a utility repair person, a waitress, a firefighter and a cop surrounded by actual women who do those jobs. Then Steve Carell did her a solid by announcing her first show using his “40 Year Old Virgin” line “Ahh... Kelly Clarkson!” 

She announced that she will sing a cover of a song every show, something she does on tour as well. It’s one of her signature moves.

“I love meeting with people,” Clarkson said. “I love connecting with people. As as you can see, I love talking to people. I also got in trouble in school for it. Now I’m being paid for it. What? What?”

Clarkson’s bubbly energy and personality has not changed from the time she stepped on that “Idol” stage back in early 2002. 

She interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who subbed in for injured Kevin Hart. She did a new bit called “Rad Human,” where she honored a woman from Beaverton, Oreg. who has run a food pantry called Sunshine Pantry for decades that had to shut down because she lost her space. “I’m lost without it,” she told Clarkson.

Clarkson brought members of her town to show up, those who were impacted by her. So it was a bit like “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Her son even took a basket out with $20,000 in cash and poured it out in front of her. The show pitched in another $10,000. 

“This is what it looks like when people come together, y’all,” Clarkson said. 

In a pre-taped bit, she then handed out bundt cakes to her neighbors at her lot, including “This is Us” and “America’s Got Talent.” 

Clarkson ended with something called #What I’m Liking. She loved a shot of four moms (with a collective 18 kids) who posted a photo of themselves drinking wine after their kids left for school. So she Skyped them. 

E! liked her charm: “The more ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show’ can indulge its host’s goofy sense of humor, the more connected her viewers will feel. “

To promote her new talk show last week, she naturally did a bit with Jimmy Fallon where the band gave them a backbeat and they had to just riff popular songs. Kelly pulled off bits of “Bad Guy,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Shut Up and Dance,” “No Tears Left to Cry” and “Senorita.” Then Fallon chose “A Moment Like This” and she had no choice but to join in. 

During that appearance, she said she also encouraged Taylor Swift to re-record all her master recordings now owned by former Atlantan Scooter Braun. 

Clarkson herself doesn’t care so much about owning her masters but understands the motivation.


HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Recording artists Chris Daughtry (L) and James Durbin perform onstage during FOX's "American Idol" Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

James Durbin, 30, is leaving as lead singer of Quiet Riot after two years.

He finished fourth season 10 on “Idol,” the year Scotty McCreery won. Quiet Riot had one huge hit “Cum on Feel the Noize” in 1983. 

“I’m proud and grateful for my time in Quiet Riot,” Durbin tells Billboard. “But I’m really looking forward to releasing a new EP in early 2020 and working on various new projects as well as any new opportunities that come my way.”

According to that story, Durbin does voice acting work for the “Star Wars: Choose Your Own Destiny” audiobooks and plays in a rock cover band, the Lost Boys, and a California-based country group, Homeland Revival.

Jizzy Pearl returns to the band after being the lead from 2013 to 2016 stint. Original lead singer Kevin DuBrow died in 2007. 


Photo: Vanessa Olivarez and I at Cottage in the Back in Kirkwood.

Only a handful of you might remember her but she was one of my favorites from season two: Vanessa Olivarez from Atlanta. We hadn’t seen each other in a decade but we are Facebook friends so she is familiar with my adopted daughter. 

She finished 12th that year and I thought she was robbed. 

Since then, she helped start (and actually named) Sugarland and had a song on one of their albums She has toured with bands such as South 70, Mama’s Blue Dress and currently Granville Automatic, a duo with Elizabeth Elkinds. Now a Nashville songwriter, she is also working on a book about the history of Music Row.

In other words, she is a talented gal who has made a living doing what she loves - and she does it very well. 

Olivarez, now 38, came back to Atlanta this past weekend and did a gig for Cottage in the Back in Kirkwood

Here she is singing “Sugarland.”


See photos from our K99.1FM's Concert for a Cause with Trent Harmon and Danielle Bradbery

Trent Harmon, season 15 winner, has married his long time girlfriend Kathleen Couch. The couple were hitched September 6 at the Davidson County Courthouse in Nashville. 

View this post on Instagram

Being your wife has been so much fun. ♥️

A post shared by Kathleen Couch (@kathleen.couch) on

Carrie Underwood’s full video from “Sunday Night Football” on NBC shot at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The stadium during production was empty but thanks to the  magic of CGI, it looked full. And Joan Jett joined in since it’s a take on her song “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.