Transformation Tuesday: Katy Perry

September 10, 2013

A young Katy Perry sings in church

Katheryn Elizabeth “Katy” Hudson (better known as Katy Perry) was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California to devout Pentecostal pastors Keith Hudson and Mary Perry. Singing in her parent’s church between the ages of 9 and 17, she grew up listening to Gospel music and had very little exposure to mainstream pop during her childhood.

“Growing up I wasn’t really allowed to listen to a whole lot of what my mom would call, secular music,”

But she took it upon herself to learn how to dance and enrolled with a vocal coach – something which stood her in good stead as at the age of 15, Perry’s singing in church attracted the attention of rock veterans from Nashville, Tennessee.  She honed her skills and learned to play the guitar. It was at this time she signed to the Christian music label Red Hill,  under which she released her self-titled gospel rock album Katy Hudson.  The album wasn’t successful and the record label ceased operations.

As a blonde freshman, Katy Perry was learning the guitar and honing her song-writing skills.


Not to be deterred, the then 17-year-old Perry left Nashville for Los Angels where she she worked with Glen Ballard on an album for Island Records.  Ballad went on to help her develop her song-writing for a couple of years but ultimately, the songs didn’t do well and Perry was dropped by the Island Def Jam Music Group.

A lesser person would have perhaps thrown the towel in at this stage, in fact, Katy was still struggling in 2004 when she was signed by Columbia Records  because they lacked confidence in her as a solo artist. So, they decided to pair her with the record production team The Matrix,  who were working on an album, to serve as its female vocalist – a move which caught the attention of the music press with the likes of Blender  magazine calling her “The Next Big Thing”. However, in 2006 she hit yet another stumbling block when Columbia  decided to drop her from the label but not before the company’s publicity executive Angelica Cob-Baehler enthusiastically recommended her to Virgin Records  chairman Jason Flom and so began the phenomenal rise of the superstar Katy Perry we know today.

A choppy fringe and dark hair colour brought out the blue in the budding singer’s eyes in 2004

Signing to the newly created Capitol Music Group,  a merger between Virgin  and Capitol , Perry went on to release her official mainstream debut album, One of the Boys.  The hard graft of generating hype began in 2007 with Perry releasing a video to Ur So Gay  aimed at introducing her to the music market. A digital EP led by Ur So Gay  was later released and caught the attention of Madonna who mentioned her on KISS FM.

Then came the radio tour accompanied by the release of I Kissed a Girl  on May 6, 2008. The track met with strong resistance at the label as people were concerned it would never be played on the radio because it wouldn’t sit well with the US ‘Bible Belt’.  But this simply was never an issue, the song was well received on radio.

With Kissed A Girl topping the charts Perry brings out her now signature big lashes and sexy pout.

Perry released One of the Boys  on June 17, 2008, to mixed critical reviews. Nevertheless, the album has reached number nine on the Billboard 200  and has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Her persistence and belief in her ambition was beginning to pay off. Success was rolling in fast. She launched her Hello Katy Tour,  in January 2009 and I Kissed a Girl  earned her a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance  at the 2009 Grammy  Awards. She was also nominated in five categories at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards,  including Best New Artist  and Best Female Video.  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 the Recording Industry Association of America  for individual digital sales of over three million. The Guinness Book of World Records  recognised her in its 2010 version as the Best Start on the US Digital Chart by a Female Artist  for having her first two singles sell over two million digital copies.

40’s pin-up girl makes way for modern pin-up girl with an edgier look for tour

By August 2010, Perry was becoming an unstoppable force in the music industry, with the release of her third studio album Teenage Dream,  an album which album has since sold over two million copies in the US, being certified Platinum by the RIAA. It also boasted a record-breaking six number-one songs on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart.  That same year she released a perfume called Purr  and embarked on an extensive world tour in support of Teenage Dream  titled the California Dreams Tour.  It earned over $59 million.

Perry is a sexy siren on Teenage Dream artwork, short, curly 50’s hair and very little else!

In 2011 Katy made her film debut in the 3D family film The Smurfs  as Smurfette and performed, along with Elton John, Brazilian Claudia Leitte, and friend Rihanna, on the opening day of the 2011 Rock in Rio festival. She also hosted Saturday Night Live,  released her second fragrance Meow  and was elected the Artist of the Year  by MTV.

Vibrant lilac for the 2011 the MTV Video Music awards. Katy has become renowned for changing her hair colour frequently.

Back to blonde and Smurfette blue liner on her sparkling eyes.

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  and in June of that year she revealed plans to launch her own record label, which would be under Capitol Records.  In July, her movie Katy Perry: Part of Me  was released to theaters under Paramount Pictures , it grossed $30 million worldwide at the Box Office. That September, she received the Woman of the Year  Award at Billboard’s Women in Music  event, which took place on November 30, 2012 in New York City and frankly, who could argue with that?

Looking incredibly chic on the cover of Billboard.

Perry reprised her role as Smurfette in The Smurfs 2  in July this year and released her third fragrance Killer Queen  in August 2013. Her fourth studio album Prism is due for release in October. The lead single Roar made its debut on August 10, 2013.

In an interview with Billboard in late 2012, Perry spoke about the upcoming album:

“I know exactly the record I want to make next. I know the artwork, the coloring and the tone….. 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”

Those earlier days of suppression by previous record labels are clearly still smarting, Perry is still a free spirit with her own agenda but this time has the power that comes with being a musical megastar; her voice is finally being heard.

On a final note, nostalgia is a powerful fashion aphrodisiac and Katy seems to find comfort in the style of 40’s/50’s sirens (but with her own super-sexy twist).   Tweet us @weknowthedj and tell us what you think of Katy’s transformation over the years?






































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