If you’ve seen the video for Kelly Clarkson’s new single, “Love So Soft,” you may have noticed she’s got some company. Before you even get a glimpse of the original Idol, you see (and hear) her longtime backup singers, who practically co-star with Clarkson throughout the colorful clip. It’s not the only place you’ll find them: Jessi Collins, Nicole Hurst, and Bridget Sarai are all over Clarkson’s new album, Meaning of Life, and on sassy cuts like “Whole Lotta Woman” or the soaring “Heat,” they almost steal the show. It’s common for pop stars to record their own background vocals, but Clarkson adds a rich new layer to each song by inviting her band into the process. “We had such a good time in the studio,” Clarkson told EW during an interview for her recent cover story. “There are songs on my record where I get jealous and want to be the background singer because they get the cool parts.” Now, get to know the voices behind your favorite moments:
Hometown: Los Angeles
Has worked with Kelly since: 2012
Resume: She also has an American Idol connection — before working with Clarkson, Collins was part of the show’s house band for a few seasons, though she didn’t meet Clarkson until they were both working on ABC’s competition series Duets. She’s also performed alongside Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and Celine Dion.
Favorite album track: “‘Whole Lotta Woman'” is my jam. I love that it celebrates female strength, humor, and sensuality. It’s like, ‘We’re having a party over here. Feel free to join, but we’ll be partying either way.'”
Has worked with Kelly since: 2011
Resume: She’s also a member of Justin Timberlake’s band — catch her in his Netflix documentary, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, and his performance at the 2017 Oscars. Hurst has also performed at the White House for the Obamas not once but twice, and she’s sung with artists such as Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, and JAY-Z.
Favorite album track: “‘Cruel.’ This was one of the first songs we recorded for the album, and I remember the excitement in the studio! The vibe reminded of an old 90s R&B song.”
Hometown: Los Angeles
Has worked with Kelly since: 2014
Resume: She’s worked with Toni Braxton, Meghan Trainor, Jamie Foxx, and the 1975. She also records music under the name SARAI and just released a single titled “Walk Away,” which you can listen to here.
Favorite album track: “‘Go High.’ I love the message of the song about always taking the high road.”