Singer, songwriter, and musician. Born Katheryn Hudson on October 25, 1984, in Santa Barbara, California. Known for her over-the-top fashions, quirky stage props, and catchy songs, Katy Perry has become a pop music sensation.
Fans might be surprised to learn that the singer who writes about sexual exploration in “I Kissed a Girl” grew up in a very conservative family. Both of her parents are pastors, and they refused to let her listen to any rock or popular music. “The only things I was allowed to listen to were the Sister Act 1 and 2 soundtracks,” Perry told Entertainment Weekly. She and her two siblings were also not permitted to watch such cable channels as MTV and VH1.
Perry started taking singing lessons around the age of 9 and learned to play guitar when she was 13. Around this time, she began rebelling against her strict upbringing by piercing her own nose. She soon became interested in pursuing a career in music. With her mother, Perry made several trips to Nashville to record a gospel album, Katy Hudson, which was released in 2001. “It reached literally maybe 100 people, and then the label went bankrupt,” Perry explained to Entertainment Weekly.
Early Musical Influences
As a teenager, Perry was exposed to other musical influences. One friend introduced her to the music of Queen, which remains one of her favorite groups. “I’m very inspired by Freddie Mercury and how flamboyant and theatrical he was,” she told fashion magazine WWD. In high school, she strove to be her own person, choosing not to limit herself to one social group. “I was a hop-around. I hung out with the rockabilly crew, the guys who were trying to be rappers, the funny kids,” she told Seventeen magazine.
Focused on her music, Perry got her GED and moved to Los Angeles to work with producer and songwriter Glen Ballard, who had worked with such artists as Christina Aguilera and Alanis Morissette. She was only 17 years old at time, and being on her own proved tough. “It was five years of living in L.A. with no money, writing bad checks, selling my clothes to make rent, [and] borrowing money,” she told Seventeen magazine. Perry also experienced a string of disappointments before getting her big break. She and Ballard were unable to find a record company willing to take them on, and her 2004 collaboration with music producers-turned-performers The Matrix was scrapped shortly before the project was to be released. After having three record deals fall apart, Perry finally signed with Capitol in 2007.
Later that year, Perry released her first single, “Ur So Gay.” Pop superstar Madonna became a fan of the song, calling it one of her favorites of the moment. The song drew comparisons to the likes of Lily Allen, another singer known for her quirky, cheeky lyrics. Perry said the single was inspired by the emo scene, and the “guys with guy-liner who use flatirons.” Still, her career did not fully take off until the release of her next single, “I Kissed a Girl,” which reached the top of the charts during the summer of 2008. With that song’s success, her debut album, One of the Boys, made it into the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also earned Perry a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Katy Perry also became famous for her theatricality. On the Warped Tour, she performed “I Kissed a Girl” with a giant tube of lip balm, referencing a line in the song. Perry has also jumped into a larger-than-life cake and appeared in a number of wild outfits while onstage. She has described her style as “Lucille Ball meets Bob Mackie. It’s about innuendo. I want everybody to get the joke, but I want them to think about it for a minute,” she explained to Esquire magazine.
In 2009, Perry appeared in her own acoustic special on MTV. The soundtrack from the show, Katy Perry: MTV Unplugged, was released around the same time. That same year, Perry made tabloid headlines for her relationship with British comedian Russell Brand. The couple became engaged over the New Year’s holiday while on a trip to India. On October 23, 2010, the couple married in India in a traditional Hindu ceremony. According to The Times of India, the wedding featured a procession of camels, elephants and horses, plus fire jugglers, snake charmers, dancers and musicians. Perry had previously dated Travis McCoy from the band Gym Class Heroes.
The young pop star has great ambitions for her future. “Ultimately I want Katy Perry to be as much of a household name as Madonna,” she told Entertainment Weekly. Her album Teenage Dreams was released in August 2010. The single from the album, “California Gurls,” quickly rose through the charts to #1 on the Billboard charts. More hits from the album soon followed, including the title track and “Firework.”
Later that year, Perry tied the knot with comedian and actor Russell Brand. Their union, however, did not last long. Brand filed for divorce in December 2011. Things were much better on the professional front for Perry. With the success of Teenage Dreams, she had become one of the country’s top pop stars.
In 2012, she released a new edition of her hit album called Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. The record had several new tracks, including more successful singles “Part of Me” and “Wide Awake.” Perry continued to dominate the music charts with 2013’s Prism. The album featured “Roar,” which climbed to the number one spot. “Dark Horse,” her collaboration with Juicy J, also made an impressive showing. The song spent several weeks at the top of charts, helping Perry beat Mariah Carey’s career total record of 45 weeks with all of her hits. Perry made another splash in 2014 with “This Is How We Do,” which also featured Riff Raff.