Kelly’s story about becoming the “first differently-abled pop star” has touched many. He was abandoned in a box as an infant in his war-torn birthplace of Iraq before nuns from a Mother Teresa orphanage brought him in. They raised him with Ahmed, another boy who was also born with “severely underdeveloped limbs due to the chemical warfare in the community” and whom he considers to be his brother. Humanitarian Moria Kelly flew them to Australia for a series of life-changing surgeries before eventually adopting them both. But he let Clarkson know her story touched him, too.
“I remember one day I was watching a TV show, and that TV show was American Idol…. And I see this woman and I’m thinking, ‘Now, she’s got one hell of a voice!’ Right? And it was you!” he expressed to the shocked TV show host. “And so that day, I realized that, ‘You know what? If she can do it, I can as well. And I’m going to push on and fight.’”
Kelly named her as one of his three main musical inspirations alongside Andrea Bocelli and Coldplay, whose frontman Chris Martin serves as Kelly’s longtime mentor and appears in his music video for his latest single “Never Alone.” “I love that I made Andrea Bocelli and Coldplay’s list!” Clarkson replied joyfully.
Before performing his motivational jam in an isolated recording studio, he dished to inaugural Idol alum that his appearance on her show was his “first American national and worldwide talk show.”
Watch Kelly’s interview and performance below.