American singer-songwriter Katy Perry is now considered to be one of the most successful musicians in the world. Her four pop music albums have resulted in numerous hit songs, including several that went straight to #1. She has also become a political activist as well as a champion of LGBT rights. She is easily one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world.
Katy Perry is actually the singer’s stage name. She was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson in 1984, the daughter of two very religious pastors. From an early age, Katy sang gospel music, and her family actively discouraged her to sing any form of secular music. In fact, you might say her parents were rather strict. Katy was even forbidden to use the term “deviled eggs” – she had to use the more religiously correct form of “angelic eggs.”
As a young girl, Katy loved playing music and soon joined her parents singing gospel music in church. As you might have guessed, then, Katy’s first musical efforts were focused on gospel music, not pop music or dance music. In 2001, Katy released her first record, Katy Hudson, on Red Hill Records, but it was a total flop. In fact, it sold less than 200 copies commercially. It was clear that gospel music was not for Katy.
From 2001 to 2007, Katy struggled to reinvent herself. She worked with new producers, and most importantly, adopted the stage name “Katy Perry.” This was important for two reasons – it reduced any confusion between her and the Hollywood actress Kate Hudson, and it also showed that she was ready for a new turn in her musical career.
Starting in 2004, Perry started working on a solo record, but that came to end when she dropped her record label at the time. She then was signed as a solo artist at Columbia Records and started preparing for her Columbia debut. She also worked with a large group of songwriters and performers, and they briefly became known as The Matrix. But, again, Perry lost her label deal, just as her first record was about ready to drop. So she worked at an indie label called Taxi Music in the hopes of keeping her career alive.
There were definitely glimmers of hope, though, that Katy would eventually hit it big. For example, Perry provided backing vocals on a new Mick Jagger song (“Old Habits Die Hard”) and she had a song featured on the soundtrack to the 2005 film “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” She also appeared in music videos.
In April 2007, Katy signed with Capital Records. People could hardly expect what would happen next. In 2008, she released her second studio album, One of the Boys. This was the breakthrough moment that she was waiting for. The big moment, of course, was the release of the album’s first single, “I Kissed a Girl.” The moment the song appeared on the radio for the first time, people were blown away by how original the sound of Katy’s music was. Moreover, it certainly didn’t hurt that the material celebrated a bi-curious lifestyle. That generated plenty of buzz for her.
Then came the second single, “Hot n Cold,” and it was clear that this album was really going to be a breakthrough. Katy Perry then embarked on her “Warped” tour for the album, and she became a global sensation. In 2008, she was picked to host the MTV Europe Music Awards, where she promptly won the award for “Best New Act.” That second album, One of the Boys, went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide.
When it was finally time to release Katy Perry’s third studio album, Teenage Dream, Katy Perry decided to alter her sound once more, making the album more of a dance and disco album. In 2010, as the first single on Teenage Dream, she released the song “California Gurls” featuring Snoop Dogg, and the song skyrocketed to #1. The second single was “Teenage Dream,” and it also reached #1 on Billboard. Then came “Firework” and “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” All of these also hit #1.
All in all, the new album contained a record five #1 smash hits. It seems like every single song that Katy released went straight to #1, and she became a true pop music superstar. Nobody had done anything like that since Michael Jackson and his album Bad, when he was the undisputed king of pop. Overall, the album went on to sell 6 million copies.
It’s easy to see, then, that everybody wanted to share a piece of Katy Perry’s celebrity status starting in 2010. She launched her second world tour, “California Dreams,” and also performed at a number of big events, like the 2011 MTV Music Europe Awards and the 2011 Rock in Rio festival with Elton John and Rihanna. In 2011, she even made her film debut, voicing the role of Smurfette in “The Smurfs.” Then, in July 2012, her autobiographical documentary, “Katy Perry: Part of Me,” was released at the very peak of her artistic success.
That type of success was going to be hard to follow up, but Katy Perry showed us all that it was indeed possible. Her fourth studio album, Prism, was a pop and dance music smash. It contained a number of huge smashes, such as “Roar” and “Dark Horse.” The videos for those two songs each got more than 1 billion views on Vevo, a record at the time. The album overall sold more than 4 million copies and debuted at #1 as soon as it was released.
From October 2014 to May 2015, Perry toured to support the album. And, as part of the promotional plans for the album, Perry was the halftime performer at Super Bowl XLIX. Her show became the highest rated and most watched in Super Bowl history. In fact, more people tuned in to watch Perry than the game itself.
At that time, Perry started to branch out into other areas. For example, in November 2015, Perry starred in her first advertising campaign, for H&M. And she also launched her own record label under Capitol Records, which she called Metamorphosis Music. She also became active in a number of other artistic endeavors, everything from a special documentary about her ex-husband (the comic Russell Brand) to a second voice role as Smurfette in “The Smurfs 2” (2013).
And, at nearly the same time, she released her third fragrance for Nordstrom. Her first fragrance had been named Purr and her second Meow!, but this was one was named Killer Queen. Perry said later that she named the fragrance Killer Queen as an ode and homage to one of the musical groups that had a formative influence on her pop music style, Queen.
The world, then, was heavily anticipating the release of her fifth studio album, Witness, in 2017. It, of course, debuted at #1 in June 2017 and shows signs of becoming another smash hit for Katy Perry. She plans to tour to support the album from September 2017 to February 2018.
Chances are, you are aware of Katy Perry at least in part due to her support of LGBT causes. She has supported numerous charitable causes and organizations during her career, and in December 2013, was officially named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She has also supported AIDS-related causes and cancer-related causes.
And, in 2016, Katy Perry emerged as an important political activist in support of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential bid. Perry even performed at the Democratic National Convention, and helped to raise awareness among youth about the need to get out and vote. You might say that Katy Perry was just one important way that Hillary Clinton tried to win the vote of the young Millennial generation.
It looks like Katy Perry has firmly established herself as one of the most iconic singers in the world. Her fifth studio album is almost certain to be another bestseller, and it looks like Katy Perry will continue to collaborate on creative projects with other top-name celebrities.
It almost seems hard to believe that Katy Perry grew up the daughter of two pastors. She almost was destined for a career in gospel music, but somehow joined the world of pop and dance music. It’s clear that she is truly one of the great performers of our generation. She has won 5 American Music Awards and 14 People’s Choice Awards, and has set 4 Guinness World Records.
In 2017 and beyond, Katy Perry will continue to pick up more awards and more critical acclaim, and it’s only a matter of time before we hear about her latest creative project. Did you know that Perry has sold more than 100 million records globally throughout her career? Yes, that’s absolutely true. And that makes her one of the best-selling musical stars ever.