Life and career
1984–1998: Early life
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 term "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 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 studied Italian opera at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. 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. After signing with Red Hill Records, Perry recorded her debut album, a gospel record titled Katy Hudson. She released the album on March 6, 2001, and went on tour that year as part of Phil Joel's Strangely Normal Tour while also embarking on other performances of her own in the United States. Katy Hudson received positive reviews from critics, though 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.
In 2004, Perry signed to Ballard's label, Java, which was then affiliated with The Island Def Jam Music Group. She began work on a solo record, but the record was shelved after Java was dropped. Ballard then introduced Perry to Tim Devine, an A&R executive at Columbia Records, and she was signed as a solo artist. Over the course of the next two years, Perry wrote and recorded material for her Columbia debut, and worked with songwriters including Desmond Child, Greg Wells, Butch Walker, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, The Matrix, Kara DioGuardi, Max Martin and Dr. Luke. In addition, after Devine suggested that songwriting team The Matrix become a "real group", Perry recorded with them. Perry was dropped from Columbia in 2006 as her record neared completion. After the label dropped her, she worked at an independent A&R company called Taxi Music.
Perry had minor success prior to her breakthrough. One of the songs she had recorded for her album with Ballard, "Simple", was featured on the soundtrack to the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She provided backing vocals on Mick Jagger's song "Old Habits Die Hard", which was included on the soundtrack to the 2004 film Alfie. In September 2004, Blender named Perry "The Next Big Thing". She recorded background vocals on P.O.D.'s single "Goodbye for Now" and was featured at the end of its music video in 2006. That year, Perry also appeared in the music video for "Learn to Fly" by Carbon Leaf, and played the love interest of her then-boyfriend, Gym Class Heroes lead singer Travie McCoy, in the band's music video for "Cupid's Chokehold".
2007–2009: Breakthrough with One of the Boys
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", aimed at introducing her to the music market. A digital EP led by "Ur So Gay" was later released to create interest. Madonna helped publicize the song by praising the track on the JohnJay & Rich radio show in April 2008, stating it 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 finishing the 2008 Warped Tour, Perry hosted the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards in November 2008, where she won the award for Best New Act. At the 2009 Brit Awards, she also won the award for International Female Solo Artist. Perry embarked on her first headlining world tour, the Hello Katy Tour, from January to November 2009 to support One of the Boys. On August 4, 2009, she performed as opening act for one date of No Doubt's Summer Tour 2009. Perry also hosted the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards in November 2009, becoming the first person to host two consecutive ceremonies of the European awards. On July 22, 2009, Perry recorded a live album titled MTV Unplugged, which featured acoustic performances of five tracks from One of the Boys as well as one new song, "Brick by Brick", and a cover of Fountains of Wayne's "Hackensack". It was released on November 17, 2009. Perry also appeared on two singles with other artists; she was featured on a remix of Colorado-based band 3OH!3's song "Starstrukk" in September 2009, and on a duet with Timbaland entitled "If We Ever Meet Again", from his album Shock Value II, in January 2010. The Guinness World Records recognized her in its 2010 edition as the "Best Start on the U.S. Digital Chart by a Female Artist", for digital single sales of over two million copies.
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.
2010–2012: Teenage Dream and marriage
After serving as a guest judge on American Idol, Perry released "California Gurls" featuring Snoop Dogg on May 7, 2010. The song was the lead single from her third studio album, Teenage Dream, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in June. She also served as a guest judge on The X Factor UK later that month before releasing the album's second single, "Teenage Dream", in July. "Teenage Dream" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in September. Released on August 24, 2010, Teenage Dream debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and received mixed reviews from music critics. It has since sold 6 million copies worldwide. Teenage Dream would go on to win the 2011 Juno Award for International Album of the Year. In October, "Firework" was released as the album's third single. It became the album's third consecutive number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 8, 2010.
"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. In October, "The One That Got Away" was released as the album's sixth single. 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. 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.
Perry embarked on her second tour, the California Dreams Tour, in support of Teenage Dream from February 2011 to January 2012. The tour grossed $59.5 million globally and won her the award for Best Live Act at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. On September 23, 2011, she performed on the opening day of the 2011 Rock in Rio festival along with Elton John and Rihanna. In September 2010, Perry was scheduled to appear on the 41st-season premiere of Sesame Street. After her scene was uploaded to YouTube, viewers criticized Perry's exposed cleavage. Four days before the scheduled airing, Sesame Workshop announced that the segment would not air on television, but would still be available to watch online. Perry subsequently mocked the controversy on Saturday Night Live, where she was a musical guest and wore an Elmo-themed shirt showing large amounts of cleavage during one skit.
In December 2010, Perry played Moe Szyslak's girlfriend in the live-action segment from a Christmas episode of The Simpsons titled "The Fight Before Christmas". In February 2011, she made a guest appearance on the How I Met Your Mother episode "Oh Honey", playing a woman known as Honey. The role won her the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Guest Star in January 2012. She made her film debut in the 3D family motion picture The Smurfs as Smurfette on July 29, 2011. The film was a financial success worldwide, while critics gave mostly negative reviews. She hosted Saturday Night Live on December 10, 2011, with Robyn as the episode's musical guest. Perry's work on the episode received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised her performance in the episode's digital short featuring her and Andy Samberg. In March 2012, she guest starred as a prison security guard named Rikki on the Raising Hope episode "Single White Female Role Model". On July 5, 2012, Perry's autobiographical documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me was released to theaters through Paramount Pictures. The film received positive reviews and grossed $32.7 million worldwide at the box office.
Perry began to venture into business when she endorsed her first fragrance, Purr, in November 2010. Her second fragrance, Meow!, was released in December 2011. Both perfumes were released through Nordstrom department stores. Electronic Arts recruited her to promote their new expansion pack for The Sims 3: Showtime, before releasing a separate stuff pack featuring Perry-inspired furniture, outfits, and hairstyles, titled The Sims 3: Katy Perry's Sweet Treats, in June 2012. The following month, she became the spokesperson and ambassador for Popchips and made an investment in the company. Billboard dubbed her as their "Woman of the Year" for 2012.
She married Russell Brand on October 23, 2010 in a traditional Hindu ceremony 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." Although she told L'Uomo Vogue in June 2012 that she planned to have "darker elements" in Prism following the end of her marriage, Perry revealed to MTV during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards that she changed the album's direction after periods of self-reflection. She 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" was released 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 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.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) ranked her fifth on the list of Top Global Recording Artists of 2013. On June 26, 2014, she was declared the Top Certified Digital Artist Ever by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for certified sales of 72 million digital singles in the United States. In May 2014, a portrait of Perry by painter Mark Ryden was featured in his exhibition "The Gay 90s", and shown at the Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. Along with several other artists, she also recorded a cover version of the song "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)" on a limited-edition concept album titled The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell to accompany the exhibition. That month, a portrait of Perry by artist Will Cotton was included in the United States National Portrait Gallery. On November 23, 2015, Perry starred in H&M's holiday advertising campaign, for which she wrote and recorded a song titled "Every Day Is a Holiday".
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 a new album in June 2016. She 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 for the highest first-day streaming for a single track by a female artist. The album's second single, "Bon Appétit", features Migos and was released that April. Its third single, "Swish Swish", featuring Nicki Minaj, followed the next month. They respectively peaked at numbers 59 and 46 in the United States, and made the top 15 in Canada.
The album, titled Witness, was released on June 9, 2017 to mixed reviews, and debuted at number one in the United States. To accompany the album's release, Perry broadcast herself on YouTube for four days with a live-stream titled Katy Perry Live: Witness World Wide, concluding with a live concert on June 12. The live-stream generated over 49 million views from 190 different countries. She also embarked on Witness: The Tour, which began in September 2017 and is scheduled to end in August 2018. On June 15, 2017, Calvin Harris released a song titled "Feels" from his album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, which featured Perry, Big Sean, and Pharrell Williams. The song went to reach number one in the United Kingdom, becoming Perry's fifth chart-topper in the country.
Outside of recording music, Perry appeared as herself in the film Zoolander 2, which was released in February 2016. In February 2017, the singer launched a shoe line titled "Katy Perry Collections". The following August, she hosted the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Perry was signed for a $25-million salary to serve as a judge on ABC's revival of American Idol, which premiered in March 2018.