“American Idol" alum and Texas native Kelly Clarkson has let her country flag fly for years, thanks in part to an unlikely friendship with Reba McEntire that has included a joint “CMT Crossroads” performance, a duet at the Academy of Country Music Awards and 2008’s “2 Worlds, 2 Voices Tour.” In February, Clarkson’s duet with Jason Aldean, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, paving the way for a full-on push into the market. In describing her long-awaited fifth album, now slated for release in September, Clarkson told Reuters, "There's a little bit of a country vibe/influence on a couple of songs."—Jeff Royer
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