Katy Perry: How A Preacher’s Daughter Became America’s Flashiest Pop Star

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, better known as Katy Perry, is one of the most recognizable people in the world. Fans have seen the musician’s journey from a budding choir girl into a huge superstar. However, the success didn’t happen overnight, as it took years for her to get to where she is today.

From her upbringing by Pentecostal pastors to feuding with some musicians along the way, Perry has had quite the life in the public eye.

How much do fans really know about her transformation?

She Attended Religious Schools

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The middle child of two siblings, she was raised by Pentecostal pastors, Mary Christine and Maurice Hudson. The family helped set up churches across the country, with Perry attending religious schools along the way.

In an interview with Vogue, the star explained how she didn’t have the highest standards for education: “The schools were really makeshift. Education was not the first priority. My education started in my 20s, and there is so much to learn still.”

Her Family Struggled Financially

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Money was sparse as the family struggled to make ends meet. To have food on the table, the Hudsons would rely on food stamps as well as eating from food banks intended to feed the congregation at her parents’ church.

Plus, the rules at home were not only strict but rather nutty. Perry and her siblings weren’t allowed to say ‘lucky’ because her mother would rather them say they were ‘blessed.’ They weren’t even allowed to say deviled eggs either, they were called ‘angeled eggs.’

Her Parents Attempted To Shield Her From Diversity

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Perry wasn’t allowed to interact with certain people, and there was some generational racism in the family. In her youth, she was sent to Pro-Conversion camps.

“When I was growing up, homosexuality was synonymous with the word ‘abomination’ and ‘hell’,” Perry revealed onstage while accepting the National Equality Award at this year’s Human Rights Campaign gala. “So most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps.”

Find out why she would begin work on a solo record with Alanis Morissette’s producer.

Praising The Lord Through Songs In Church Wasn’t A Career Option

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Singing in the church was always Perry’s gift, but she never thought of it as a career, at least not until she was nine. Once she decided she wanted to pursue it professionally, her parents supported her. She would begin to perform at the local farmers’ market twice a week, collecting change, and proved to be gifted at impromptu speeches too.

By the time she was 13 years old, her parents were chaperoning her to Nashville to pursue a gospel-singing career. She managed to put out a record on a small label a few years later.

After Singing With Red Hill Records, Perry Recorded Her Debut Album

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She released a gospel record titled Katy Hudson on March 6, 2001. While the album received positive reviews from critics, it was commercially unsuccessful. Christianity Today wrote, “Her songwriting skills are so strong, it’s difficult to believe she was only 16—and was merely 15 when she wrote most of these songs. The lounge-jazz meets art-rock feel of it is pure ear candy with the message that we’re being molded perpetually into Christ’s image.”

But, she would transition from gospel music to secular music, later adopting the stage name Katy Perry to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.

Her Journey And Her Breakthrough

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Perry started writing songs with Alanis Morissette producer Glen Ballard. She would begin work on a solo record, but the album was shelved after Ballard’s label, Java, was dropped. He would introduce her to Tim Devine, an executive at Columbia Records, and she was signed as a solo artist. However, she would be dropped in 2006 as her record neared completion.

After Columbia dropped Perry, Angelica Cob-Bahler brought the musician’s demos to Virgin Records chairman Jason Flom. Flom would sign her to Capitol Records and arranged her to work with Dr. Luke. Together, they co-wrote “I Kissed A Girl” and “Hot n Cold.”

While many people approve of the musician’s scandalous style, others aren’t a fan of it. Read ahead to see why.

She Believes “I Kissed A Girl” Was Successful For A Reason

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In an interview with Vanity Fair, she revealed the reason behind the success of her smash single. “I Kissed a Girl,” was so successful because “finally someone was singing about something that existed. But it really was meant to be fun; there was no agenda.”

However, that didn’t stop her from continuing to push the envelope with her music with songs such as “Teenage Dream” and “California Girls.” She had no regrets for the music video to “California Girls” where she was showing a bit more skin when wearing the cotton-candy clouds.

She Achieved Sex Symbol Status

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With a new sound to her music, Perry transformed from church choir girl to a worldwide icon. When it comes to her body, she’s not afraid to talk about it. Telling Mashable in an interview, “I’m curvy, I’m not sample-sized. I’m never exactly one to shy away from the outrageous or the extreme in any realm.”

While she has a versatile appearance, she can look fresh and natural one moment, but be decked out in something like a peppermint swirl dress the next.

Her Look Drew Criticism On A Kid’s Show

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While many people approve of the musician’s scandalous style, others aren’t a fan of it. This became evident when Perry made an appearance on Sesame Street. She drew criticism due to her wardrobe choice.

She was excited to be invited to guest star on the children’s show, but not everyone was enthusiastic. Parents were upset about the amount of cleavage Perry showed alongside Elmo, and the spot was cut from the episode. When appearing on Saturday Night Live, Perry poked fun by wearing a low-cut Elmo shirt.

Read ahead to see the performance that helped Perry set a Guinness World Record!

Changing Her Beliefs

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Perry has been open about how her beliefs continue to evolve. While showing off her Jesus tattoo in 2010, she told Rolling Stone, “God is very much still a part of my life but the way the details are told in the Bible- that’s very fuzzy for me. And I want to throw up when I say that.”

Three years later, she told Marie Claire, “I’m not Buddhist, I’m not Hindu, I’m not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God. I pray all the time—for self-control, for humility.” Today, she proudly signs the praises of Transcendental Meditation.

Perry’s Professional Work Has Been Acclaimed

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The “Birthday” singer has won Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and 13 Grammy Awards. On top of that, she spent 69 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, eventually winning Woman of the Year from the entertainment media brand.

But, one of her biggest wins is the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Perry won the “Top Female Recording Artist” of 2013 and the Recording Industry Association of America recognized her as its “Most Awarded Digitial Act In The History of Gold & Platinum Awards.”

Her Performance At The Super Bowl Halftime Show Was Panned By Millions

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Perry made history on February 1, 2015, as the headliner for the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show. The broadcast would set a Guinness World Record for the “Most Viewed TV Broadcast In US History.” Joined by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot, Perry delivered a very memorable performance.

However, for weeks after the performance, many people were discussing the left shark who appeared on stage alongside the musician. The left shark seemed to go rogue, making up dance moves along the way to the delight of viewers at home.

Despite earning a World Record, find out why Perry had a feud with another artist.

Her Marriage To Russell Brand Failed

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Perry married the British comedian in late 2010. Their wedding in India featured a procession of camels, elephants, horses, and so much more. But, things came to an unfortunate halt on New Year’s Eve 2011.

The musician received a text message from her husband asking for a divorce. She told Marie Claire, “There were two weeks in my life after I found out the truth about my marriage where I was like, ‘OK. All right. I can’t feel this. This is too intense right now.'”

She Had A Feud With Another Pop Singer

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Much has been made about the feud between Taylor Swift and Perry. Until recently, it was all just speculation. The two were once close friends, publicly expressing admiration for each other on social media. But then it all changed.

The change in the friendship may have to do with Swift dating John Mayer, and things didn’t end well. After divorcing from Brand, Perry and Mayer soon became an item. The two musicians appeared to have beef between each other.

A Certain Taylor Swift Song May Have Addressed The Rumors

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After Swift released “Bad Blood,” it quickly stirred up rumors. The “You Belong With Me” singer jumped on the chance to address the rumor to Rolling Stone:

“She did something so horrible, I was like, ‘Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies.’ And it wasn’t even about a guy! It had to do with business. She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me… So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.”

Read ahead to see who wanted no part of Perry’s actions.

Perry Admitted One Thing About The Feud

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When the “Part of Me” singer participated in a round of Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, she admitted something about the feud.

“I tried talking to her about it and she wouldn’t speak to me… I do the right thing and any time it feels like a fumble. It was a full shutdown and then she writes a song about me, and I’m like, ‘Okay, cool. cool, cool, that’s how you want to deal with it? Karam!” Perry again commented on the feud to Huffington Post, and said she just wanted to forgive her and say sorry for anything she did.

Pink Stood With Taylor

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It only makes sense for an interviewer to asks Pink to weigh in on the Perry-Swift drama. KISS FM Studio in London thought that he should ask her to choose a side when interviewing the punk pop star.

Pink responded by saying, “Taylor, is that okay? You can’t win no matter what you say, anyway. Everyone wakes up offended.” While she didn’t come straight out to say that she isn’t a fan of Perry’s, she has certainly made her choice in regards to the seemingly never-ending feud.

Miley Cyrus Said No Thanks To Perry’s Kiss

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The friendship began in 2008 after both Perry and Cyrus attended the VMAs together. At the time, Perry reportedly wanted to recreate the famed Britney Spears-Madonna smooch that happened at the 2003 VMAs.

When E! News asked Miley, who was only fifteen years old at the time, she laughingly answered: “No, thanks!” It’s understandable why she took a pass on recreating that kiss, especially considering Miley was underage at the time.

On top of being a musician, see what Perry does in her spare time.

She Made Up With Calvin Harris

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Calvin Harris was all set to open for Perry back in 2011 on her California Dreams Tour. Harris took to Twitter, saying he dropped out last minute, blaming the tour’s production. Perry took it personally when the DJ threw shade at the “E.T.” singer.

She tweeted a slightly obnoxious announcement in regards to Harris’ last-minute cancelation to her Ireland and UK fans, to which many of them replied angrily. However, the feud has been put to rest, as both artists collaborated on the song “Feels.”

Her Upbringing Led Her To Become A LGBTQ Rights Activist

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In 2008, the “Firework” singer openly opposed Proposition 8 — a voter referendum that overturned a Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality. Despite the loss, she continued to be a voice for equality.

In fact, Perry was a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. One of the reasons has to do with the candidate being a regular promoter for equality in the LGBTQ community. After Clinton lost the election, Perry went ahead and designed a shoe in her honor.

On To Of Being An Activist, She’s A Philanthropist Too

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2013 was a big year for the musician. She teamed up with UNICEF to provide food and education to children in Madagascar. Plus, the “Wide Awake” singer became one of the organization’s goodwill ambassadors.

She donated a portion of ticket sales from her Prismatic World Tour to UNICEF and teamed up with Staples to create “Make Roar Happen,” providing $1 million to DonorsChoose with the mission of providing funds for classroom resources in public schools.

Despite giving back, there’s a reason why she continues to have a strange love life.

Perry Invited Fans To Follow Through A Confessional Weekend

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This gave fans full access to her life for 96 hours as she ate, slept, meditated, and underwent therapy. But, during this time, she revealed a few things. She admitted she wanted to return to being more like “Katheryn Hudson,” and the struggles with being Katy Perry sometimes.

The “Swish Swish” singer revealed a battle with depression, but on a lighter note, it seems as if the all-access weekend helped give her a boost. She officially became the first person to have more than 100 million followers on Twitter.

She Has Three Number One Albums Under Her Belt

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Teenage Dream took the top spot in 2010, which featured tracks “Firework,” “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” and “California Girls.” When she released Prism three years later, it topped the charts once again. Perry explained to People the inspiration behind one of the biggest tracks on that album.

“When I was writing ‘Roar,’ I was like, ‘I need to find my voice again. I need to be heard. I need to find that empowering thunder in my chest again.” Prism, released in 2017, managed to top the charts in nine other nations.

She Dumped Travie McCoy Over An Email

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Both artists were serious enough to have promise rings and dated for more than two years. In fact, Perry appeared as McCoy’s true love in “Cupid’s Chokehold” and McCoy appeared in “I Kissed A Girl.” However, Perry was the one who dumped him over email in May 2009. McCoy recalled their romance on Behind The Music.

“That was the beginning of a really really awesome time for me … When I was around her I felt really at ease and comfortable with myself … It was the most amazing thing ever.”

Her on-and-off-again relationship with another artist was exhausting for a particular reason.

Karma Came Back To Haunt Her

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Two years after dumping McCoy over email, Russell Brand wanted a divorce via text message. Perry revealed to Vogue that her intense tour schedule for Teenage Dream was a factor in the divorce. However, there were some unnamed, sinister elements at play too.

“He didn’t like the atmosphere of me being the boss on tour. So that was really hurtful, and it was very controlling, which was upsetting.” But the real truth may have been the comedian’s alleged infidelity. For his part, Brand has denied any cheating during their brief marriage.

She Moves On, Real Quick

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Perry had allegedly dated actor Orlando Bloom for just one month before she met his son. It may seem like she moves a little fast, but it just seems to be the way she operates.

Perry and Russell got engaged in January 2010, four months after they started dating, and tied the knot in the fall. Over a year later, the couple filed for a divorce. In March 2012, she was linked to male model Baptiste Giabiconi. By August 2012, she was already with John Mayer.

Her On-And-Off Again Romance With Mayer Was Exhausting

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After getting together in August 2012, they split before the month was over. However, not long after that, they were spotted together again, with Perry rocking a heart-shaped ruby ring during a date.

However, by March 2013 both artists called it quits, but reunited three months after for a “casual relationship.” After their duet “Who You Love” dropped, many speculated they were engaged. Neither one of them would confirm or deny the ordeal, but they ended it all for good in 2015.

After their breakup, Perry was quick to find love again!

She Flirted Up A Storm With Orlando Bloom

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The actor and musician flirted up a storm at the 2016 Golden Globes afterparty. Not long after that, they were featured in a photo shared by actor James Lecesne. However, the couple confirmed their split in February 2017.

After over a year of not being together, they stepped out together in Rome in April 2018. Perry documented the special outing on social media, sharing several videos and photos on Instagram. In the video, the singer also revealed that her mother, Mary Hudson, joined her and Bloom on their Vatican City outing.

Was Orlando Faithful To Katy?

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An insider told Radar Online that “Orlando would never change his ways with hanging out with other women. He would still continue to hang out with his actor buddies and there were always a ton of sexy women around.”

In May 2017, the Lord of the Rings actor was snapped by TMZ after hugging and allegedly kissing Selena Gomez. Plus, he was seen cozying up to Erin McCabe. Not long after that, he and Perry released a joint statement announcing they were finished, for now.

They’re Engaged!


Both the actor and the pop singer found their way back together. After their romantic getaway to Rome, the began dating again in 2018. Almost a year later, they had a very special Valentine’s Day.

The “Hot N Cold” singer shared a photo on Instagram as the couple celebrated their engagement. This will be both Perry and Bloom’s second wedding. She was married to Brand for two years while Bloom was married to Aussie Model Miranda Kerr, who’s the mother of their child, Flynn.