Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson (born October 25, 1984), better known by her stage name Katy Perry, is an American pop musician. Born in Santa Barbara, California, and raised by Christian pastor parents, Perry grew up listening to only gospel music and sang in her local church as a child. After earning a GED during her freshman year of high school, she began to pursue a career in music. As Katy Hudson, she released a self-titled gospel album in 2001, which due to the closing of her record label, was deemed unsuccessful. She later recorded an album with production team The Matrix and completed the majority of a solo album from 2004–5; neither of which were released.
After signing with Capitol Music Group in 2007, her fourth record label in seven years, she adopted the stage name Katy Perry and released her first Internet single “Ur So Gay” that November, which garnered public attention but failed to chart. She rose to fame with the release of her second single “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, which went on to top international charts. Perry’s first mainstream studio album One of the Boys followed later that year and subsequently, became the thirty-third best selling album worldwide of 2008. It was accredited platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America, while “I Kissed a Girl” and her second single “Hot n Cold” both received multi-platinum certifications. Her sophomore studio album Teenage Dream was released in August 2010 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album included hit singles “California Gurls”, “Teenage Dream” and “Firework”, all of which topped the charts on the Billboard Hot 100.
Perry was credited as a guest judge on the seventh series of British television show The X Factor; has released a fragrance called “Purr”; and will appear in the upcoming 2011 film The Smurfs. Perry had a long relationship with Travie McCoy; she married Russell Brand on October 23, 2010.
Perry was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson in Santa Barbara, California on October 25, 1984 to Mary (née Perry), an evangelist who grew up in Southern California and had “a tempestuous first marriage in Zimbabwe”, and Keith Hudson, who was a West Coast scenester in the 1960s. Perry is of German and Portuguese descent on her mother’s side. She is the second child of two pastors. She has an older sister and younger brother. Perry’s maternal aunt and uncle were screenwriter Eleanor Perry and director Frank Perry, through whom she is also related to Charles M. Schwab, the founder of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
Perry was incorporated into her parents’ ministry and sang in their church between the ages of nine and seventeen. She grew up listening to gospel music, was not allowed to listen to what her mother called “secular music”, and attended Christian schools and camps. As a child, Perry learned how to dance in a recreation building in Santa Barbara. She was taught by seasoned dancers and began with swing, Lindy Hop, and jitterbug. She took her GED after her freshman year at Dos Pueblos High School and decided to leave school in the pursuit of a career in music. Perry initially started singing “because [she] was at that point in [her] childhood where [she] was copycatting [her] sister and everything she [would do].” Her sister practiced with cassette tapes, while Perry took the tapes herself when her sister was not around. She rehearsed the songs and performed them in front of her parents, who suggested she take vocal coaching. She grabbed the opportunity and began taking lessons at the age of nine and continued until she was sixteen. She later enrolled in at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and studied Italian opera for a short period of time.
At the age of 15, Perry’s singing in church attracted the attention of rock veterans from Nashville, Tennessee, who brought her there to polish her writing skills. In Nashville, Perry started recording demos and was taught by country music veterans on how to craft songs and play guitar. Perry signed to the Christian music label Red Hill, under which she recorded her first album at the age of 15. Performing as Katy Hudson, she released the self-titled Gospel-rock album in 2001. The album was unsuccessful, however, after the label ceased operations at the end of 2001. She later changed her surname to Perry, her mother’s maiden name, because “Katy Hudson” was too close to film actress Kate Hudson. At the age of 17, Perry left her home for Los Angeles, where she worked with Glen Ballard on an album for record label Island. The album was due for release in 2005, but Billboard reported it also went nowhere. Perry was dropped by Island Def Jam Music Group. Some of Perry and Ballard’s collaborations included “Box”, “Diamonds” and “Long Shot”, were posted on her official MySpace page. “Simple”, one of the songs she recorded with Ballard, was released on the soundtrack to the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Perry signed to Columbia Records in 2004. However, the label was not amenable with her vision, not putting her in the “driver’s seat”. Instead, one of Columbia’s ideas was to pair Perry with the record production team The Matrix, who was working on an album, to serve as its female vocalist. Although the album was later shelved, she caught the attention of the music press: Her burgeoning music career led to her being named “The Next Big Thing” in October 2004 by Blender magazine. With no album project ongoing, Perry began recording her own. Eighty percent completed, however, Columbia decided not to finish it and dropped her off the label. While waiting to find another label, she worked in an independent A&R company called Taxi Music. In 2006, Perry was featured in the tail-end of the video to P.O.D.’s single “Goodbye for Now”. She made a cameo appearance in Carbon Leaf’s video, “Learn to Fly”.
2010–present: Teenage Dream
Perry appeared as a guest judge alongside Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh during the Dublin audition stage of the seventh series of the British television show The X Factor on June 28, 2010 (later televised on August 28). She was one of the many celebrities chosen to fulfil the role of judge whilst Dannii Minogue was on maternity leave. She later returned to the show on October 17 to perform “Firework”. Perry’s second mainstream studio album was titled Teenage Dream and was released in August 2010. The first single from the album was titled “California Gurls”. The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the fastest rising single from a Capitol Records artist since Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1967. The cover art for Teenage Dream is a painting by Will Cotton in which depicts Perry lying naked on clouds of cotton candy; resembling the shots of Perry in the video for “California Gurls”. The booklet of the physical edition of the album, in keeping with the theme of cotton candy, has a cotton candy scent. The album’s second single “Teenage Dream” was released in July 2010. “Firework” is the album’s third single.
Katy Perry appeared at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010. She was nominated for two awards and presented the award of “Best Male Video” with Nicki Minaj to Eminem. On September 14, she returned to her old high school, Dos Pueblos High School, where she performed a short set for the school’s students. Perry performed “Hot n Cold” with Elmo from Sesame Street, which was originally to appear on the forty-first-season premiere of the educational children’s program on September 27, 2010. However, four days before the scheduled airing, Sesame Workshop announced, “In light of the feedback we’ve received on the Katy Perry music video … we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers. Katy Perry fans will still be able to view the video on YouTube.” The main reason was that parents complained about what appeared to be a great amount of cleavage shown by her dress. Perry shot the video for Firework in Budapest in September 2010. An open casting call drew an unprecedented 38,000 applicants. She proceeded to perform at a concert in Budapest on October 1, her first concert in Central and Eastern Europe. Perry has announced her own fragrance to be released in autumn of this year, named “Purr”. It will come in a cat-shaped bottle, and will be available through Nordstrom stores.’Teenage Dream led Perry to nominations four awards at the 2011 Grammy Awards: Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Teenage Dream”, and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “California Gurls”
Musical style and themes
Katy Perry performing in 2009.
Perry has a contralto vocal range. Among Perry’s musical influences are Alanis Morissette,pop rockers Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Shirley Manson, and Freddie Mercury, the late frontman of the British band Queen. Growing up listening to gospel music, Perry had few references when she began recording songs. Asked by the producer with whom she would like to collaborate, Perry had no idea. That night, she went with her mother to a hotel. Inside, she turned on VH1 and saw producer Glen Ballard talking about Morissette; Ballard produced Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, the album that had a “huge influence” on Perry. She told her initial collaborator that she had decided to work with Ballard. The producer arranged a meeting for her and Ballard in Los Angeles. Perry presented him a song, and a day later she was called. Ballard developed Perry for a few years.
Perry described her music by saying, “Someone kind of penned it for me the other day, and I’ve been using it ever since.” According to her, she has “changed a lot between the ages of 15 to 23.” Her first album dwells on Gospel music. She related that her perspective in music was “a bit enclosed and very strict”, and everything she did was church-related. Her second album, One of the Boys, is described as “secular” and “rock,” and reflects a departure from her religious musical roots. Perry expects to record more pop songs for her next album.
Perry is artistically involved in her projects, especially in the writing process. Since she could play guitar, she would start writing songs at home and present it to her producers. Perry is mostly inspired by specific moments of her life. She said it is easy for her to write songs about heartbreak. Most of the themes in One of the Boys deal with heartbreak, teen adventure, and “puking into toilets”. Perry’s mother reportedly told British tabloid Daily Mail that she dislikes her daughter’s music, calling it “shameful and disgusting”. Perry said her mother was misquoted and told MTV that it was false information. Her songs “Ur So Gay” and “I Kissed a Girl” have received negative reactions from both religious and gay sectors. The songs have been respectively labeled as being homophobic and promoting homosexuality, as well as “lez ploitational”. MTV mentioned criticism suggesting that Perry is using “bi-curiosity” as a way to sell records. Perry responded to the controversy surrounding “Ur So Gay”: “It’s not a negative connotation. It’s not, ‘you’re so gay,’ like, ‘you’re so lame,’ but the fact of the matter is that this boy should’ve been gay. I totally understand how it could be misconstrued or whatever … It wasn’t stereotyping anyone in particular, I was talking about ex-boyfriends.”
Perry is known for her unconventional style of dress. It is often humorous, bright in color, and reminiscent of different decades, and she frequently uses fruit-shaped accessories, mainly watermelon, as part of her outfits. Having learned dancing at an early age, she fantasized about having her own style. Perry’s transformation into an artist began with fashion, inspired by American film actress Dominique Swain’s portrayal in 1997 film adaptation of the novel Lolita. She defines her fashion style as “a bit of a concoction of different things”. Johnny Wujek, Perry’s stylist, described her style, upon meeting her for the first time, as “very colorful and vintage”. Her fashion has caught the attention of designers. In June 2008, a publicity photo that showed Perry posing with a switchblade was criticized. The picture was defended as only an effort to give Perry a “sexy, harder edge”. The criticism leveled at her was mocked by Perry who subsequently posed with a spoon instead. She has appeared in FHM Magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women poll twice, ranking at #23 in 2009 and #37 in 2010.
Perry dated Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy, whom she met in a recording studio in New York, on and off for several years. After more than a year of friendship and casual dating, they became serious with their relationship right before they embarked on the 2008 Warped Tour. Perry and McCoy broke up in December 2008. The two began dating again in early 2009 and broke up again a few months later. Perry first met British comedian Russell Brand in the summer of 2008 when Perry filmed a cameo for Brand’s film Get Him to the Greek. Perry and Brand began dating after meeting again in September 2009 at the MTV Video Music Awards, where Brand, as host, remarked, “Katy Perry didn’t win an award and she’s staying at the same hotel as me, so she’s gonna need a shoulder to cry on. So in a way, I’m the real winner tonight.” The couple became engaged in December 2009 when Brand proposed to Perry while vacationing in India. In a July 2010 YouTube interview, Perry said Brand would be a “perfect” father. Perry has stated that she plans to take dual British citizenship when she marries Brand. “One of the first things I’ll do is apply for dual citizenship. I’m not too sure if I have to take a test as I’ve not had time to look into it. But England is like my second home”. Perry and Brand married on October 23, 2010 in a traditional Hindu ceremony near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan, India, the same location where Brand had proposed