Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson was born in Santa Barbara, California, to Pentecostal pastors Mary Christine (née Perry) and Maurice Keith Hudson. Her parents are born again Christians, each having turned to religion after a "wild youth". Perry has English, German, Irish, and Portuguese ancestry. Through her mother, she is a niece of film director Frank Perry. She has a younger brother named David, who is a singer, and an older sister, Angela.
From ages 3 to 11, Perry often moved across the country as her parents set up churches before settling again in Santa Barbara. Growing up, she attended religious schools and camps, including Paradise Valley Christian School in Arizona and Santa Barbara Christian School in California during her elementary years. Her family struggled financially, sometimes using food stamps and eating from the food bank intended to feed the congregation at her parents' church.
Growing up, Perry and her siblings were not allowed to eat the cereal Lucky Charms as the word "luck" reminded their mother of Lucifer, and had to call deviled eggs "angeled eggs". Perry primarily listened to gospel music, as secular music was generally discouraged in the family's home. She discovered popular music through CDs she sneaked from her friends. While not strictly identifying as religious, Perry has stated, "I pray all the time – for self-control, for humility." Wanting to be like her sister Angela, Perry began singing by practicing with her sister's cassette tapes. She performed the tracks in front of their parents, who let her take vocal lessons as Angela was at the time. She began training at age 9, and was incorporated into her parents' ministry, singing in church from ages 9 to 17. At 13, Perry was given her first guitar for her birthday, and publicly performed songs she wrote. She tried to "be a bit like the typical Californian girl" while growing up, and started rollerskating, skateboarding, and surfing as a teenager. Perry's brother David described her as a tomboy during her adolescence. She took dancing lessons and learned how to swing, Lindy Hop, and jitterbug.
1999–2006: Career beginnings
Perry completed her General Educational Development (GED) requirements at age 15, during her freshman year of high school, and left Dos Pueblos High School to pursue a musical career. She briefly had music lessons in facilities rented from the Music Academy of the West. Her singing caught the attention of rock artists Steve Thomas and Jennifer Knapp from Nashville, Tennessee, who brought her there to improve her writing skills. In Nashville, she started recording demos and learned how to write songs and play guitar. Perry signed with Red Hill Records and recorded her debut album, a gospel record titled Katy Hudson, which was released on March 6, 2001. She also went on tour that year as part of Phil Joel's Strangely Normal Tour and embarked on other performances of her own in the United States. While Katy Hudson received positive reviews from critics, it was commercially unsuccessful and sold an estimated 200 copies before the label ceased operations in December. Transitioning from gospel music to secular music, Perry started writing songs with producer Glen Ballard, and moved to Los Angeles at age 17. In 2003, she briefly performed as Katheryn Perry to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson. She later adopted the stage name Katy Perry, using her mother's maiden name.
After Columbia dropped Perry, Angelica Cob-Baehler, then a publicity executive at the label, brought Perry's demos to Virgin Records chairman Jason Flom. Flom was convinced that she could be a breakthrough star and she was signed to Capitol Records in April 2007. The label arranged for her to work with Dr. Luke in order to add an "undeniable smash" to her existing material. Perry and Dr. Luke co-wrote the songs "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot n Cold" for her second album One of the Boys. A campaign was started with the November 2007 release of the video to "Ur So Gay", a song aimed at introducing her to the music market. A digital EP of the same name was also released that month.Madonna helped publicize the song by praising it on the JohnJay & Rich radio show in April 2008, stating "Ur So Gay" was her "favorite song" at the time. In March 2008, Perry made a cameo appearance as a club singer in the Wildfire episode "Life's Too Short" and appeared as herself during a photo shoot that June on The Young and the Restless for the show's magazine Restless Style.
Perry released her first single with Capitol, "I Kissed a Girl", on April 28, 2008, as the lead single from One of the Boys. The first station to pick up the song was WRVW in Nashville, who were inundated with enthusiastic calls the first three days they played it. The track reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. "I Kissed a Girl" created controversy among both religious and LGBT groups. The former criticized its homosexual themes while the latter accused her of using bi-curiosity to sell records. In response to speculation that her parents opposed her music and career, Perry told MTV that they had no problems with her success.One of the Boys, released on June 17, 2008, garnered mixed critical reviews and reached number nine on the US Billboard 200. The album went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide. "Hot n Cold" was released the following September and became the album's second successful single, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 while topping charts in Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Austria. Later singles "Thinking of You" and "Waking Up in Vegas" were released in 2009 and reached the top 30 of the Hot 100. The Matrix's self-titled debut album, which Perry had recorded with the band in 2004, was released onto iTunes on January 27, 2009, as a result of her solo success.
After her relationship with Travis McCoy ended in December 2008, Perry met her future husband Russell Brand in the summer of 2009 while filming a cameo appearance for his film Get Him to the Greek. Her scene, in which the two kiss, does not appear in the film. She began dating Brand after meeting him again that September at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The couple became engaged on December 31, 2009, while vacationing in Rajasthan, India.
"E.T." featuring Kanye West was released as the fourth single from Teenage Dream on February 16, 2011. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five non-consecutive weeks, making Teenage Dream the ninth album in history to produce four number one singles on the chart. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" followed as the fifth single in June, and Perry became the first female artist to achieve five number-one Billboard Hot 100 songs from one album when the single topped that chart on August 17, and the second artist after Michael Jackson with his album Bad. For this record, she received an honorary American Music Award in November 2011 and a 2013 Guinness World Record. On September 7, she set a new record by becoming the first artist to spend 69 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Hot 100. After "The One That Got Away" was released as the album's sixth single in October, Teenage Dream became the third album to spawn six top-five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 after Rhythm Nation 1814 by Janet Jackson and Faith by George Michael. The song peaked at number three in the US and number two in Canada.
On January 5, 2012, Perry was named the sixth best-selling digital artist in the United States, with sales of 37.6 million units according to Nielsen SoundScan. That month, she became the first artist to have four songs sell over 5 million digital units when "E.T." reached that mark along with "Firework", "California Gurls", and "Hot N Cold". On February 13, Capitol released the lead single from Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, "Part of Me", which debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Perry's seventh single overall to top the chart.Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection was released on March 23. "Wide Awake" was released on May 22 as the re-release's second single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in Canada and New Zealand.
She married Russell Brand on October 23, 2010, in a traditional Hinduceremony near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan, India. Brand announced on December 30, 2011, that they were divorcing after 14 months of marriage. Perry later stated that conflicting career schedules and his desire to have children before she was ready led to the end of their marriage and that he never spoke to her again after sending a text message that he was divorcing her, while Brand asserted that he divorced her due to her commercial success and reluctance to engage in activism. She was initially distraught over their divorce, and said that she contemplated suicide. After the marriage ended in 2012, Perry began a relationship with singer John Mayer that August.
2013–2015: Prism and Super Bowl XLIX halftime show
In November 2012, Perry began work on her fourth album, Prism. She told Billboard, "I know exactly the record I want to make next. I know the artwork, the coloring and the tone" and "I even know what type of tour I'm doing next. I'll be very pleased if the vision I have in my head becomes a reality." After initially telling L'Uomo Vogue in June 2012 that she planned to have "darker elements" in Prism following the end of her marriage, the singer revealed to MTV during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards that she changed the album's direction after periods of self-reflection. Perry commented "I felt very prismatic", which inspired the album's name. "Roar" was released as the lead single from Prism on August 10, 2013. It was promoted at the MTV Video Music Awards and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Unconditionally" followed as the second single from Prism on October 16, 2013, and peaked at number 14 in the United States.
Prism was released on October 18, 2013, and has sold 4 million copies as of August 2015. It received favorable reviews from critics and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Four days later, Perry performed the songs from the album at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles. "Dark Horse" with Juicy J was released as the album's third single in December, and became her ninth U.S. number-one single the following month. In 2014, "Birthday" and "This Is How We Do" respectively followed as the album's fourth and fifth singles, and reached the top 25 on the Hot 100. Prior to ending her relationship with Mayer in February 2014, she recorded and co-wrote a duet with him titled "Who You Love" for his album Paradise Valley. The song was released on August 12, 2013. Perry's third headlining tour, the Prismatic World Tour, began in May 2014 and concluded in October 2015. It sold almost 2 million tickets and grossed $204.3 million worldwide and won Perry the award for "Top Package" at the 2014 Billboard Touring Awards. She also performed at the 2015 Rock in Rio festival on September 27, 2015.
On November 23, 2014, the NFL announced that Perry would perform at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show on February 1, 2015.Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott served as special guests for the show. Her performance was critically acclaimed, and the Guinness World Records announced two days after the singer's halftime show that it garnered 118.5 million viewers in the United States, becoming the most watched and highest rated show in Super Bowl history. The viewership was higher than the game itself, which was viewed by an audience of 114.4 million.
On June 17, 2014, Perry announced that she had founded her own record label under Capitol Records, titled Metamorphosis Music. Ferras was the first artist to get signed to her label, and Perry served as an executive producer on his self-titled EP. She also recorded a duet with him on the EP, titled "Legends Never Die". The label was later renamed Unsub Records.
Outside of her music career, Perry reprised her role as Smurfette in The Smurfs 2, which was released in theaters on July 31, 2013. Like its predecessor, The Smurfs 2 was a financial success but was panned by critics. In March 2014, she made a guest appearance playing herself in the episode "Blisteritos Presents Dad Academy Graduation Congraduritos Red Carpet Viewing Party" of the Kroll Show.Killer Queen was released as her third fragrance in August 2013 through Coty, Inc. In January 2014, she became a guest curator of Madonna's Art for Freedom initiative. In March 2015, she appeared in Brand: A Second Coming, a documentary following her ex-husband Russell Brand's transition from comedy work to activism, and released a concert film titled Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour through Epix, which took place during her tour of the same name. Perry also made a cameo appearance in the music video for Madonna's song "Bitch I'm Madonna" in June 2015. The following month, she released another fragrance with Coty, entitled Mad Potion. In September 2015, she appeared in the documentaries Katy Perry: Making of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, which followed Perry's preparation for her Super Bowl performance, and Jeremy Scott: The People's Designer, which followed the life and career of designer Jeremy Scott. Perry released a mobile app titled Katy Perry Pop in December 2015 through Glu Mobile where her character helps players become famous musicians. She described it as "the most fun, colorful world that helps guide your musical dreams".
2016–present: Witness and American Idol
Perry started writing songs for her new album in June 2016, and recorded an anthem for NBC Sports's coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics titled "Rise", which was released the following month. Perry chose to release it as a standalone track rather than save it for her album "because now more than ever, there is a need for our world to unite". NBC also felt its message spoke "directly to the spirit of the Olympics and its athletes" for its inspirational themes. The song reached number one in Australia and number eleven in the United States.
Perry posing for photos with fans in Sydney in June 2017
In August 2016, Perry stated that she aspired to create material "that connects and relates and inspires" and told Ryan Seacrest that she was "not rushing" her fifth album, adding "I'm just having a lot of fun, but experimenting and trying different producers, and different collaborators, and different styles". On February 10, 2017, Perry released the album's lead single "Chained to the Rhythm" featuring Skip Marley. It reached number one in Hungary and number four in the United States. The track was also streamed over three million times on Spotify within 24 hours, breaking the music streaming service's record at the time for the highest first-day streaming for a single track by a female artist. The album's second single, "Bon Appétit" with Migos, was released that April. Its third single, "Swish Swish", featured Nicki Minaj and followed the next month. They respectively peaked at numbers 59 and 46 in the United States, and made the top 15 in Canada.
In July 2019, a jury in California passed a verdict following a week-long trial that Perry's song "Dark Horse" had copied Flame's 2008 song "Joyful Noise" after he filed a copyright lawsuit alleging that it used his track's beat without permission, which was later overturned. After the initial verdict, the jury ordered her to pay him $550,000. The next month, Josh Kloss, Perry's co-star in the "Teenage Dream" music video, accused her of sexual misconduct. In an Instagram post, Kloss alleged that, during a party at a skating rink, Perry pulled down his sweatpants and underwear, exposing his penis to her male friends. Kloss also wrote that her management prevented him from speaking about his time with the singer. Perry has not yet spoken out on his claims.
Following the release of her single "Never Worn White" on March 5, 2020, Perry revealed in the accompanying music video that she is expecting her first child with fiancé Orlando Bloom.
Alanis Morissette (left) and Freddie Mercury (right) both heavily influenced Perry and her music.
During the early stages of her career, Perry's musical style gravitated towards gospel and she aspired to be as successful as Amy Grant. At the age of 15, she heard Queen's "Killer Queen," which inspired her to pursue a career in music. She cites the band's frontman, Freddie Mercury, as her biggest influence and expressed how the "combination of his sarcastic approach to writing lyrics and his 'I don't give a fuck' attitude" inspired her music. She paid homage to the band by naming her third fragrance Killer Queen. Perry described the Beach Boys and their album Pet Sounds as having a considerable influence on her music: "Pet Sounds is one of my favorite records and it influenced pretty much all of my songwriting. All of the melody choices that I make are because of Pet Sounds." The singer also holds the Beatles' album The Beatles in high esteem, and described these two albums as "the only things I listened to for probably two years straight."
Perry cites Alanis Morissette and her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill as a significant musical inspiration, and opted to work with Morissette's frequent collaborator Ballard as a result. Perry stated, "Jagged Little Pill was the most perfect female record ever made. There's a song for anyone on that record; I relate to all those songs. They're still so timeless." Additionally, Perry borrows influence from Flaming Red by Patty Griffin and 10 Cent Wings by Jonatha Brooke. Perry intends to become "more of a Joni Mitchell", releasing folk and acoustic music. Perry's autobiographical documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me was largely influenced by Madonna: Truth or Dare. She admires Madonna's ability to reinvent herself, saying "I want to evolve like Madonna", and has credited Madonna for inspiring her to make Prism "darker" than her previous material.
"When I am in between records, sometimes I doubt myself. I'll be like 'Did I just get lucky, or did I mass-manipulate the world into thinking that seven songs were worth a number-one position?' And then I go back into the studio and I start writing, and the true essential oil of who I am comes bubbling back up and reminds me that it's always been inside of me, that nobody can take this away no matter what comment anyone makes."
While Perry's music incorporates pop, rock, and disco, Katy Hudson contains gospel. Her subsequent releases, One of the Boys and Teenage Dream, involve themes of sex and love. One of the Boys is a pop rock record, while Teenage Dream features disco influences. Perry's fourth album, Prism, is significantly influenced by dance and pop music. Lyrically, the album addresses relationships, self-reflection, and everyday life. The singer's fifth studio effort Witness is an electropop album that she described as a "360-degree liberation" record, with themes including political liberation, sexual liberation, and liberation from negativity. Many of her songs, particularly on Teenage Dream, reflect on love between teenagers; W described the album's sexual innuendos as "irresistible hook-laden melodies". Self-empowerment is a common theme in Perry's music.
Perry has a contralto vocal range. Her singing has received both praise and criticism. Betty Clarke of The Guardian commented that her "powerful voice is hard-edged" while Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone described Perry's vocals on Teenage Dream as "processed staccato blips". Darren Harvey of musicOMH compared Perry's vocals on One of the Boys to Alanis Morissette's, both possessing a "perky voice shifting octaves mid-syllable". Alex Miller from NME felt that "Perry's problem is often her voice" on One of the Boys, stating that "somewhere along the line someone convinced her she was like, well, a ballsy rock chick". Conversely, Bernadette McNulty from The Daily Telegraph praised her "rock chick voice" in a review of a concert promoting Prism.
Perry's characteristic spinning peppermint swirl dress which she wore during the California Dreams tour
On social media, Perry surpassed Justin Bieber as the most followed person on Twitter in November 2013. She won the 2015 Guinness World Record for most Twitter followers, and became the first person to gain 100 million followers on the site in June 2017. Keith Caulfield of Billboard stated that the singer is "the rare celebrity who seems to have enormous popularity but genuine ground-level interaction with her adoring KatyCats." With a combined total of over 263 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, she is the fifth most followed musician across social media. In June 2017, Time listed Perry among its "25 Most Influential People on the Internet" of the year, writing that her live-stream for Witness was "blazing a trail" for being "the closest any major entertainer has come to giving fans the kind of 'real' intimacy that social media purports to provide".
In 2011, Forbes ranked Perry third on their "Top-Earning Women In Music" list with earnings of $44 million and fifth on their 2012 list with $45 million. She subsequently ranked seventh on the 2013 Forbes list for "Top-Earning Women In Music" with $39 million earned, and fifth on their 2014 list with $40 million. With earnings of $135 million, Forbes also ranked Perry number one on their 2015 "Top-Earning Women In Music" list as well as the "World's Highest-Paid Musicians" and declared her the highest earning female celebrity in 2015, placing her at number 3 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list. In 2016, the magazine estimated her net worth was $125 million, and ranked her number six on their list of "Highest-Paid Women in Music" with earnings of $41 million. The following year, she was ranked number nine on the list with $33 million. In 2018, she topped its "Highest-Paid Women in Music" listing and ranked at number four on the "Highest-Paid Female Celebrities" list with earnings of $83 million. Perry subsequently was placed at number four on the 2019 "Highest-Paid Women in Music" listings with $57.5 million. Later that year, with earnings of $530 million throughout the 2010s, the magazine also ranked her as the 9th highest earning musician of the decade.
Perry is considered a sex symbol; GQ labelled her a "full-on male fantasy", while Elle described her body "as though sketched by a teenage boy".Vice described her as a "'serious' popstar/woman/sex symbol". She was placed at number one on the Maxim Hot 100 in 2010 as the "most beautiful woman in the world", with editor Joe Levy describing her as a "triple – no quadruple – kind of hot".Men's Health readers voted her the "sexiest woman of 2013". In November 2010, Perry told Harper's Bazaar that she was proud of and satisfied with her figure.
Perry became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in December 2013.
Perry has supported various charitable organizations and causes during her career. She has contributed to organizations aimed at improving the lives and welfare of children in particular. In April 2013, she joined UNICEF to assist children in Madagascar with education and nutrition. On December 3, 2013, she was officially named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, "with a special focus on engaging young people in the agency's work to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable children and adolescents." She arranged for a portion of the money generated from tickets to her Prismatic World Tour to go to UNICEF. In September 2010, she helped build and design the Boys Hope/Girls Hope foundation shelter for youth in Baltimore, Maryland along with Raven-Symoné, Shaquille O'Neal, and the cast of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
She has also supported children's education and well-being. All profits from sales of the album The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell, which includes her rendition of "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)", were donated to the charity Little Kids Rock, which supports musical education in underprivileged elementary schools. In June 2014, she teamed up with Staples Inc. for a project entitled "Make Roar Happen" which donated $1 million to DonorsChoose, an organization that supports teachers and funds classroom resources in public schools. In May 2016, she worked with UNICEF to improve child care quality in Vietnam, hoping to "break the cycle of poverty and drastically improve children's health, education and well-being". The following month, UNICEF announced that Perry would receive the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award "for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in support of the world's most vulnerable children" at their annual Snowflake Ball in November.
Perry performed at multiple ceremonies for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign.
Perry has publicly advocated for LGBT rights. She supported Stonewall during their "It gets better..... today" campaign to prevent homophobic bullying, and dedicated the music video to her song "Firework" to the It Gets Better Project. Perry told Do Something in November 2008 she was proud to be a LGBT rights activist, saying "I've always been a very open-minded person, but I definitely believe in equality." She confirmed that she voted against Proposition 8, an amendment (ultimately ruled unconstitutional) that legally defined marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman in California. In June 2012, Perry expressed her hopes for LGBT equality, commenting "hopefully, we will look back at this moment and think like we do now concerning [other] civil rights issues. We'll just shake our heads in disbelief, saying, 'Thank God we've evolved.' That would be my prayer for the future." In December 2012, Perry was awarded the Trevor Hero Award by The Trevor Project for her work and activism on behalf of LGBT youth. On March 18, 2017, she received a Nation Equality Award from Human Rights Campaign for "using her powerful voice and international platform to speak out for LGBTQ equality", with the organization further stating that "Katy's message of inclusion and equality continues to inspire us and the world".
Through Twitter and by performing at his rallies, Perry supported President Barack Obama in his run for re-election and praised his support for same-sex marriage and LGBT equality. She performed at three rallies for Obama, in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Wisconsin, singing a rendition of "Let's Stay Together" as well as a number of her songs. During her Las Vegas performance she wore a dress made to replicate a voting ballot, with Obama's box filled in. On Twitter, she encouraged her followers to vote for Obama.
Billboard also named her the 15th most successful dance club artist of all time. The magazine additionally ranked her 4th on its "Greatest of All Time Pop Songs Artists" list, included Teenage Dream and Prism among its "Greatest of All Time Billboard 200 Albums by Women" list, and ranked "Dark Horse" at number 100 on its "Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs" as well as one of its "Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs by Women" along with "E.T.", "Firework", and "California Gurls". In June 2015, her music video for "Dark Horse" became the first video by a female artist to reach 1 billion views on Vevo. The following month, her music video for "Roar" reached 1 billion views on Vevo, making her the first artist to have multiple videos with 1 billion views.
Perry was declared the Top Global Female Recording Artist of 2013 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). According to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the fifth top digital singles artist in the United States, with 101 million certified song units in the country including on-demand streams and also has 6 million certified album units, totaling 107 million certified units in the nation. She also became the first artist to have three songs receive Diamond certifications from the RIAA with "Dark Horse", "Firework", and "Roar". All three of them and "E.T.", "California Gurls", and "Hot n Cold" have each sold over 5 million digital copies. Throughout her career, Perry has sold more than 18 million albums and 125 million singles globally, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.