Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson (born
October 25, 1984), better known by her stage name Katy Perry, is an
American singer-songwriter and musician. Perry rose to fame in 2007 with
her internet hit "Ur So Gay", and later scored in 2008 her breakthrough
single "I Kissed a Girl".
Perry was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California by Christian pastor
parents and grew up listening only to gospel music. After earning a GED
during her freshman year of high school, she began to pursue a music
As Katy Hudson, she released a self-titled gospel album in 2001. In 2004,
she recorded an album with production team The Matrix, but it was never
released. After signing on with Capitol Music Group in 2007, she took on
stage name Katy Perry and released her first mainstream album, One of the
Katy Perry was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson in Santa Barbara,
California. The second child of two pastors, she has an older sister and
younger brother. Her Evangelical mother, Mary Hudson, grew up in Southern
California and had "a tempestuous first marriage in Zimbabwe". Her father
was a West Coast scenester in the 1960s. Perry's uncle and aunt were
director Frank Perry and screenwriter Eleanor Perry.
Baptized a Christian, Perry was incorporated to her parents' ministry, and
she started singing in their church from the age of nine; she continued
singing in the church until she was 17. She grew up listening to gospel
music and was not allowed to listen to what her mother called secular
music. Perry attended Christian schools and camps. As a child, Perry
learned how to dance in a rec hall 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 of high school and decided to leave school
to pursue a career in music. Perry initially started singing "because I
was at that point in my childhood where I was copycatting my sister and
everything she did". Her sister practiced with cassette tapes, and Perry
took the tapes herself when her sister was not around. She rehearsed the
songs and performed it to her parents, who suggested she should take voice
lessons. She grabbed the opportunity and began taking lessons at age nine
to 16. She enrolled in at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara,
and studied Italian opera for a short 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. 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", and in Gym Class
Heroes' video, "Cupid's Chokehold", playing the eventual love interest of
lead singer Travis McCoy. Her songs eventually captured the attention of
Virgin Records CEO Jason Flom, then head of Capitol Music Group, who
signed her to Capitol Music in early 2007.
After signing to Capitol Records, Perry began recording tracks for her
official mainstream debut album, One of the Boys, and establishing her
image was one of the immediate concerns of her management. A campaign was
started in November 2007 with the release of the video to "Ur So Gay",
aimed at introducing her to the music market. A digital EP led by "Ur So
Gay" was later released to create online buzz. This was a successful move
that resulted in bringing Perry to the attention of Madonna, who mentioned
her on KISS FM and KRQ's JohnJay & Rich morning show in Arizona. On March
10, 2008, she appeared as herself on the ABC Family television series,
Wildfire, on the episode "Life's Too Short".
While the buzz over Perry was building, she went on the next step of
promoting the album, undertaking a two-month tour of radio stations. The
album's official lead single, "I Kissed a Girl", was released on May 6,
2008. With the song climbing atop the charts, Perry embarked on the annual
Warped Tour music festival, which her management used to "establish her as
a credible performer and make sure she wasn't seen as just a one-hit
wonder." The single was a commercial success, peaking at number one for
seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. It has since become a major
worldwide hit, topping charts in 30 countries, including Australia,
Canada, and the United Kingdom. On June 12, 2008, Perry appeared as
herself on the daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless, and poses
for the cover to the June 2008 issue of the fictional magazine Restless
One of the Boys was released on June 17, 2008 to mixed critical reviews.
The album has reached number nine on the Billboard 200, and has been
certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Perry
released her second single, "Hot N Cold", which became her second top
three single in dozens of countries around the world, including the United
States where it reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as
topping the charts in Germany, Canada, and Denmark. After Perry wrapped up
her appearance at the Warped Tour, she went on tours in Europe. She later
launched her first headlining tour, the Hello Katy Tour, in January 2009.
"I Kissed a Girl" earned Perry a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal
Performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Perry was nominated in five
categories at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best New Artist
and Best Female Video, but lost to Britney Spears. She won Best New Act at
the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards, which she co-hosted, and Best
International Female Artist at the 2009 BRIT Awards. On February 9, 2009,
both "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" were certified three-time platinum
by Recording Industry Association of America for individual digital sales
of over three million.
The Matrix's self-titled debut album, which features Perry, was later
released via the team's label, Let's Hear It, during Perry's solo tour.
When the release date was scheduled, "I Kissed a Girl" had been charting
well. Matrix member Lauren Christy spoke to Perry about the decision, but
she wanted to hold the release until the fourth single of One of the Boys
had been dispatched. Despite their communication, The Matrix was released
on January 27, 2009, via iTunes Store.
In December 2008, Perry apologized to British singer Lily Allen for
remarks in which she called herself a "skinnier version" of her, saying
she meant it as a joke. Allen retaliated and told a British radio station
that she "happened to know for a fact that she (Perry) was an American
version" of her because their record company needed "to find something
controversial and 'kooky'" like her.
Katy Perry performing at the 2009 Life Ball in ViennaOn May 16, 2009,
Perry performed at the opening ceremony of the annual Life Ball in Vienna,
Austria. In June 2009, lawyers acting for Katy Perry opposed the recent
trademark of Australian fashion designer Katie Perry who uses her own name
to market loungewear. Some media outlets reported this as a lawsuit, which
Katy Perry has denied on her blog. Katie Perry the designer reports on her
blog that at a hearing with IP Australia on 10 July 2009, the singer's
lawyers withdrew their opposition to the trademark.
On August 28, 2009 Colorado-based band 3OH!3 released a remix of their
song "Starstrukk" which features Perry as guest vocalist; the idea for the
collaboration came after Perry's tour that featured 3OH!3 as the
supporting act. The song was released over iTunes on September 8, 2009.
In October 2009, MTV Unplugged revealed that Perry was one of the artists
to perform for them, and that she would be releasing a live album of the
performance, including two new tracks, "Brick by Brick" and Fountains of
Wayne cover "Hackensack". The album was released on November 17, and
includes both a CD and a DVD.
In December 2009, Timbaland released his album Shock Value II, which
included a song that features Perry. The track, titled, "If We Ever Meet
Again", has been chosen as the fourth single off the album.
Perry began working on her second studio album in October 2009. Perry
talked to Rolling Stone about the album: "The second record is really
important to me because I think it shows whether I’m meant to do this, or
I got lucky. Basically what I want to do is not alienate the audience that
I have at all. I think some people feel like they have had success with
one thing and one idea and one record and they want to pull a 180 and try
a totally different thing, I definitely feel like that’s the wrong move. I
feel like you just have to grow from it, you can branch off of it but keep
the tree the same in some ways. Some people get full of themselves, and
they think that anything they do is going to work or turn to gold or be
the right move, and the reason why you’re here is because of the people
that like your music and the fans, so you always should keep an ear open
to what they’re saying". Perry said she’ll “definitely keep it pop. ‘Love
Fool’ by the Cardigans meets ‘Into the Groove’ by Madonna but a little
more meat on the bones lyrically, I’m not just gonna talk about the beat
and just dancing, I like to get into the meaning”. Perry didn't reveal
much about what the songs will be about, but did say they’d focus on the
whirlwind last year of her life, to dealing with fame to friendships to
It has been announced that she is working with numerous artists and
producers including Greg Wells, Guy Sigsworth, Dr. Luke, Max Martin,
Calvin Harris, Ryan Tedder, The-Dream and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart,
who told Rap-Up magazine in December 2009 that the sound of the album will
be pop/rock, the same sound as One of the Boys. He added: "It’s a
different gear for me. This is a very important project for me ’cause
people are waiting to see what I’m gonna do".
Perry is set to make her film début, starring in the 2011 film The Smurfs,
as Smurfette, alongisde Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Winters, Alan
Cumming, and George Lopez.
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
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 "lezploitational". 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
frequently uses fruit-shaped accessories, mainly watermelon, as part of
her outfits. Her dark hair is signature to her look, but, as the music
video to "Ur So Gay" shows, her hair is naturally blonde and she dyed her
hair and eyebrows a darker color. Having learned dancing at an early age,
she fancied 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, who were giving her nearly as much attention as
fans of her music.
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.
Perry dated Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis 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 into 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 is now engaged to
British comedian Russell Brand after he proposed in December 2009.