HOLLYWOOD — A true "American Idol" collaboration could be coming soon.
"I was talking to Fantasia during rehearsals and we were saying it might be cool to tour together just 'cause we have kinda different vibes, but we still like the soul," Kelly Clarkson said after the show's finale, where she performed with Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard and Diana DeGarmo (see " 'I Made It' Declares Tearful 'Idol' Winner Fantasia Barrino" ). "I'd love to do a song with her as well. She's got so much grit and emotion in her voice. It's beautiful."
Fantasia and Kelly will both be recording albums in the coming months, but the most recent winner will also be juggling a summer tour, which could make a collaboration tricky. Clarkson, meanwhile, is hoping to write and record with a variety of artists and has already logged studio time with former Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody (see "Ben Moody Bringing Kelly Clarkson's Music To Life").
"To be honest with you, I didn't know that he wasn't with Evanescence anymore," Clarkson said. "I just really liked their vibe and I thought it might be cool to work with one of them. So I just randomly asked people I work with, 'Hey, do you think that he'd work with me?' And then I found out that he kind of split and that's what he's doing ... so it worked out perfectly."
Clarkson has written several songs for her follow-up to Thankful (see "Kelly Clarkson's Rockin', Soulful Side To Show On New LP" ) and is already calling the music an improvement from her debut.
"I love my first album," she said. "I think it's a great first album. I think it opens a lot of doors. I got to work with Babyface. Christina Aguilera helped write one of the songs, so there's a lot of cool things on that album and I'm very proud of it, but definitely I've grown a lot."
Specifically, Clarkson has learned how songs can be structured to best fit her voice.
"I don't know if you've heard me sing 'Miss Independent' lately, but it's so much better than how it is on my album," she explained. "I learned to make a song my own before going into the studio and nailing it. ... It's just little things you pick up here and there ... everything just gets better with time. I've just learned a lot. A lot. I'm writing and hopefully I'll be producing a little, too."
The as-yet-untitled album is due in the fall, with the first single scheduled for an early September release.
"There's a lot of like rock stuff ... and hip-hop, R&B stuff," Clarkson said. "I had a versatile album the first time, but this one's gonna be a lot more versatile."
By expressing interest in working with Fantasia, Kelly has made it clear she's not trying to get away from the "American Idol" tag.
"It's gonna be on my grave, I'll never escape it," she said. "Not that I want to."