The Preacher’s Daughter: 20 Facts About Katy Perry Before She Was Famous

Nobody will forget the year 2008: the year Katy Perry had everyone buying cherry chapstick and screaming the lyrics to her new hits including "Hot n Cold." Since that epic year for Katy Perry, she has soared to the top of Billboard charts and into hearts around the world. She followed up her hit album "One of the Boys" with "Teenage Dream" in 2010, which was eagerly received by fans.

According to Biography.com, “Picking up where she left off, Perry released a new single with Snoop Dogg, 'California Gurls,' in May 2010. The single shot to the top of the charts, paving the way for its accompanying studio album, Teenage Dream, to do the same."

Perry's follow-up singles, "Teenage Dream," "Firework," "E.T." and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" all followed the path of "California Gurls," making Perry just the second artist, after Michael Jackson, to have five No. 1 hits from a single album.” She has since released also highly successful albums, Prism in 2013 and Witness in 2017. So far in her career Perry has sold more than 40 million albums and over 100 million records globally, according to Wikipedia.com

Katy Perry is known for her bright, sparkly and crazy wardrobe in addition to her over the top theatrics. It may surprise fans to know that Katy Perry was actually raised very conservatively. Both of her parents were preachers, and Perry and her siblings were very sheltered from the world. She wasn’t allowed to eat Lucky Charms, celebrate Halloween or watch networks like MTV. Below are 20 unusual facts about Katy Perry before she was famous.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 Her Given Name at Birth Was Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson


Katy Perry hasn’t always been this pop stars go-to signature. She was born Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson on October 25th, 2984 in Santa Barbara, California. In the beginning of her career as a musician she was playing Christian music and released her first album, Katy Hudson in 2001. She went on to change her name to Katy Perry, because Katy Hudson was too similar to Kate Hudson. Perry is her mother’s maiden name.

In an interview with The Guardian Perry stated the following in regards to her name change:

“A lot of people are living in fear from something that happened in their childhood, or some form of PTSD they picked up along the way, and I created this wonderful character called Katy Perry that I very much am, and can step into all the time, but I created that character out of protection,” she says.

“I was scared that if you saw me, Katheryn Hudson, the girl wearing the Bioré strip on my nose, you’d be like, ‘that’s not glamorous’. It was me going, ‘OK, I’ve been upset my whole childhood so I’m going to show the world I am something, that I am going to do something and that I am enough’. I didn’t want to be Katheryn Hudson. I hated that, it was too scary for me, so I decided to be someone else.”

19 She Taught Herself To Play Guitar


Katy Perry is in cahoots with many other self-taught musicians’ including her ex-boyfriend, John Mayer, in addition to Brad Paisley, Ed Sheeran, Jimi Hendrix and many others. According to Wikipedia.com, after Perry received her GED when she was 15, more on that later, she left high school to pursue her musical career. After a brief flirtation with Italian Opera, more on that later too, she caught the attention of Steve Thomas and Jennifer Knapp who took her to Nashville to improve her writing skills. It was in Nashville that she started recording demos, writing songs and learning to play guitar.

In an interview with MTV.com Perry stated, “That led to me being 14 or 15, when I started going to Nashville to record some gospel songs, and to be around amazing country-music vets and learn how to craft a song and play guitar," she continued.

"I'd actually have to Superglue the tips of my fingers because they hurt so much from playing guitar all day, you know? And from that, I made the best record I could make as a gospel singer at 15."

As we learned above, that album was her first, self-titled, Katy Hudson. Her style, musical and otherwise, may have changed but her partly self-taught foundation is what brought her to where she is today.

18 Her Parents Were Preachers


Perhaps one of the most surprising things there is to learn about Katy Perry is about her very conservative upbringing. Her parents, Mary Christine and Maurice Keith Hudson, were both Pentecostal pastors.

Though Perry has openly expressed regret and concerns about her conservative upbringing, it was in the church choir where she first gained an interest in singing and music.

Rumours have flown over the years about tension between Perry and her conservative parents. After a recent special appearance on American Idol, on which Katy was judging, it would appear that they all know how to set their differences aside for the sake of family. In a 2017 interview with DailyMail.co.uk Perry stated the following, “'We all come from different places... you can have your belief system, nobody is telling you to not believe your beliefs but you can also come from a space of love. She added: 'That's what my family and I exercise all the time.”

Wondering what her parents thought of her judging on American Idol? GoodHousekeeping.com states, “"She's still mouthy," her mother said, before saying that fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan "add wisdom." She continued on to say "Well, she's a middle child and they always want the most attention." Eventually, Perry interjected to say "I feel like it's turned out okay for them!"

17 Her Family Struggled To Get By


Perry’s family, which consisted of her parents, herself and siblings sister Angela Hudson and brother David Hudson, struggled to get by in the early days. They frequently moved across the country for their parents career and money was always tight.

TheList.com reports, “Growing up, money was sparse and the family struggled financially."

"To feed their family, the Hudsons sometimes relied on using food stamps and eating from the food bank designated for the followers at their church. Perry can remember panhandling and begging on the streets for change but quickly learned that she could earn more by capitalizing on some of her natural assets."

"After explaining that she would hit up thrift shops for pencil skirts and snug-fitting cardigans, the singer said, "I have had this body for a very long time and I would pour into those clothes very well—so it worked!"

Now that she is well off, Perry spends time, energy and her own resources doing charity work. In 2016 she was awarded the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian award for her efforts. BBC.com reports, “Katy Perry joined Unicef in 2013 to help children in Madagascar with education and nutrition and became its goodwill ambassador later that year.

Part of the money from her Prismatic World Tour in 2014 was donated to the UN charity.”

16 She Wasn’t Allowed To Celebrate Halloween As A Kid


Among the other strange things about Katy’s religious upbringing, she wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween. She has certainly seemed to make up for lost time in this category though. Some of Perry’s hit costumes from years past include the Fried Egg of 2008, the Flaming Cheeto of 2014, and the Mic Drop of 2015. Despite the lack of Halloween in her upbringing, we’ve got to give her credit for her creativity in recent years!

On not being allowed to celebrate the holiday, Perry told Vogue in 2017, “My house was church on Sunday morning, church on Sunday night, church on Wednesday evening; you don’t celebrate Halloween; Jesus gives you your Christmas presents; we watch Bill O’Reilly on TV. That was my whole childhood and youth and early teens. I still have conditioned layers dropping off of me by the day.”

The list of no-no’s didn’t end there though. Apparently she also wasn’t allowed to eat Lucky Charms as a kid.

“I wasn’t able to say I was lucky because my mother would rather us say that we were blessed, and she also didn’t like that lucky sounded like Lucifer… I wasn’t allowed to eat Lucky Charms, but I think that was the sugar. I think my mom lied to me about that one,” she states in an interview with RollingStone.com.

15 She Handed Out Religious Pamphlets At Madonna And Marilyn Manson Concerts


Despite gracing arenas and stages all over the globe, the star used to be posted up outside the venues handing out religious pamphlets. In an interview with Vogue.com she stated, “I miss references all the time,” she admits. “Amy Grant was our Madonna. We knew about Madonna and Marilyn Manson in my family because we picketed their concerts.”

At a Manson concert in Santa Barbara, she handed out pamphlets titled How to Find God. She ended up going in to watch the performance with her youth pastor and, to her surprise, found it “really interesting and weird—I got it.”

It’s another strange way her conservative upbringing brought her closer to who she was really meant to be.

On her current religious and soul-searching journey, Perry recently opened up in an interview with Glamour.com, “I’m preparing to do a big soul overhaul very soon that I’m nervous about. I want to emotionally elevate myself. I don’t want to hold on to childhood trauma anymore. I want to grow into becoming an adult. I’m preparing myself for having a family of my own someday. And that’s the thing: I want to do a little bit more soul surgery before I have a family of my own so that I don’t transfer any of those lingering feelings. I’m about to go heavy into that emotional process, and I’m nervous, but I don’t think I have a choice anymore. This last year has been about killing my ego, which has been really necessary for my career. But for my personal life, it doesn’t work that way. If I want to have that true balance, I have to step into being Katheryn Hudson.”

14 Education Was Not A Top Priority To Her Family And She’s Still Making Up For It


In an interview with Vogue.com, Katy Perry stated the following in regards to her education,“The schools were really makeshift,” Perry recalls.

“Education was not the first priority. My education started in my 20s, and there is so much to learn still.” According to Wikipedia.com, From ages 3 to 11, Katy and her family moved frequently across the country as her parents set up churches.

They eventually settled in Santa Barbara, California, where Katy ended up dropping out to get her GED. More on that just below!

In regards to her education, Perry told ABCNews.Go.Com, “"I was being pulled out of school even in the middle of school and sometimes being home-schooled," she said. "Sometimes we were sent to these really half-Christian, half-education, I-don't-know-what-they-were schools."

Now working with Staples for her "Make Roar Happen" campaign, which raises money for teachers, Perry reflected on how she's tried to continue her learning process as an adult. "I've learned to educate myself at this stage and how to continue my education at any age," she said. "I'm going on 30 and I'm still very thirsty for information. On tour, we go to different museums and get to soak up all kinds of different cultural experiences." If you follow her on Instagram @katyperry you can get a peek at some of her creative museum exhibit selfies.

13 She Received Her GED When She Was 15


Opting to pursue her musical career, Katy Perry dropped out of school in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 15. She received her GED (General Education Development) and set her sights on bigger dreams.

Biography.com writes, “Focused on her music, Perry got her GED and moved to Los Angeles to work with producer and songwriter Glen Ballard, who had collaborated with such artists as Christina Aguilera and Alanis Morissette. She was only 17 years old at time, and being on her own proved tough. "It was five years of living in L.A. with no money, writing bad checks, selling my clothes to make rent, [and] borrowing money," she told Seventeen.”

As it would turn out, Katy Perry is of course not alone in the list of celebrities who opted to receive their GED in order to further pursue their careers. According to Ranker.com, other celebs who received their GED include Angelina Jolie, Hilary Swank, Jessica Simpson, Cyndi Lauper, Pink and many, many more. As mentioned above, Katy Perry continues to make up for her lack of education, but she is obviously doing something very right. Despite her own teenage years, she has made Teenage Dreams come true for fans everywhere.

12 It Took Her A Long Time To Break Into The Industry


It’s hard to imagine someone like Katy Perry as, well, anyone other than the iconic woman she is today. But believe it or not, Perry had a long wait, not to mention a lot of hard work, ahead of her before she rose to where she is today.

After dropping out of High School she moved to LA, briefly studied Italian Opera, started studying under Steve Thomas and Jennifer Knapp, released a gospel record that ultimately a failure, switched from gospel to secular music, moved to LA, switched her name to Katy Perry.

But wait it definitely doesn’t end there. Wikipedia.com states the following, and try to follow along!

“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...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.” It was from this signing in 2007 that led Katy Perry to release the album ‘One of The Boys’ which we know was a smashing success. Girlfriend had to work for where she is today!

11 She Never Really Wanted To Be Famous


For someone who had to put in a ton of work to get to where she is today, it may come as a huge surprise that she never really even wanted to be famous. In an interview with TeenVogue.com, Perry admitted the following, “I’m tired of being famous already! But I’m not tired of creating. Fame is, I think, just a disgusting by-product of what I do. It’s quite a delicate creature – it’s a wild animal of sorts. It can love you, and then it can attack you. I still want to be as approachable and relatable as possible – when I meet fans and they’re crying, I’ll say, 'Calm down, there’s nothing to cry about. I’m not going to bite you or attack you or grant you three wishes. Let’s just hang out and have a good time.'"

"But really, I stopped focusing on what other people think a while ago. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll only end up completely confused.”

We could all learn a lot from Katy, am I right? Can you imagine if your dream job was simply to be really good painter, and to make a living off of your paintings. However, in order to live out that dream there’s all these repercussions like paparazzi following you around and getting recognized and approached by fans everywhere you go. Katy actually puts the whole thing into a very interesting perspective. Despite what she has to say, she seems to handle the fame with grace!

10 She Pierced Her Own Nose


Ouch, am I right? YoungHollywood.com informs us that during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2012 Perry said the following,

"I asked my mother permission so I could get my nose pierced. And of course she didn't give it to me, she said, 'It was ridiculous and she wasn't gonna do that.' So she then went on an errand, so I took a safety pin and a piece of ice and I pierced my own nose…” She later went on to say she regretted the piercing and the scar it left behind.

She obviously missed the piercing a little bit though, the star posted a video of her getting a new nose piercing in 2014. She posted the video to her own personal Instagram with the caption, "Last time I did this I was on my own with a safety pin & cube of ice @ 13. This time I thought it was best I left it to the pro's. Sorry mom (again)" I’m pretty sure she made the right choice by leaving it to the pros this time. And I think we can all agree that Katy Perry is adorable with or without her nose ring!

9 She Has Her Childhood Friends To Thank For Sneaking Her Music To Listen To


In an interview with VanityFair.com in 2011, Perry started opening up about her controversial past, “My career is like an artichoke,” Katy Perry tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Lisa Robinson. “People might think that the leaves are tasty and buttered up and delicious, and they don’t even know that there’s something magical hidden at the base of it. There’s a whole other side [of me] that people didn’t know existed.” Even though a lot about Katy Perry’s past is now out in the open, it may still come as as surprise to some, I know it did to myself!

As you can imagine, Katy’s upbringing included a very short list of music she and her siblings could actually listen to, including only gospel music. Perry had to rely on her friends to sneak her the good stuff.

What are friends for, right? In the same interview with Vanity Fair she stated, “I didn’t have a childhood,” she says, adding that her mother never read her any books except the Bible, and that she wasn’t allowed to say “deviled eggs” or “Dirt Devil.” Perry wasn’t even allowed to listen to secular music and relied on friends to sneak her CDs.”

My, how things have changed for Katy.

8 She Released Her First Album Under The Name Katy Hudson


As mentioned previously, Katy Perry’s first ever album released was her self-titled gospel debut, Katy Hudson. She was 16 years old at the time and still going by the name Kathryn Hudson.

Though Katy received good feedback on her talents, the album ultimately failed. Complex.com recalls, “However, despite kind words from critics, the album was a commercial flop for her record label at the time, Red Hill Records."

"The album only sold close to 200 copies and ended up being Perry’s only Christian music-influenced album. In fact, some time after Katy Hudson’s release, Red Hill Records closed down.”

Everyone has to start somewhere, and as we learned earlier, Katy Perry worked her butt off to get to where she is today. Her initial album was just a stepping stone, and one she’s probably a little embarrassed about today. I imagine it being a similar feeling as to looking back through my old MySpace account. Cringe. Also as we learned earlier, 2018 will be a year of soul-searching for Perry and she did mention coming to terms with Kathryn Hudson. Perhaps her soul-searching will have her re-visiting her initial album that, one way or another, is tied to who she is as a musician today.

7 She Credits Queen’s Track ‘Killer Queen’ As What Inspired Her Take Her Music In A New Direction


Well it turns out Queen and Freddie Mercury are to thank for Katy saying adios to Katy Hudson and hello to Katy Perry. “At thirteen Perry left home in Santa Barbara, with her mother as chaperone, to record a gospel album in Nashville. Two years later she discovered the operatic rock of the seventies group Queen and their provocative lead singer, Freddie Mercury.

“I had never heard such an imaginative explanation of how to live,” she remembers. “That was my first perspective on that world, and I just loved it. I felt so free and accepted.” At seventeen, fueled by this epiphany, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue the career she wanted,” writes Vogue.com.

From Halloween costumes to tweets and birthday ballads, Katy Perry has been known to make her love for Freddie Mercury very obvious to the public. She even noted that she would have loved to collaborate with him on her makeup collection, Mic.com reports the following, “When Mic was offered the opportunity to sit down with the 31-year-old star on Sunday to celebrate the release of her CoverGirl Katy Kat collection, we decided to find out which '80s singer she wishes she could collaborate with on a makeup collection. Her answer may surprise you.

"Freddie Mercury was always my very first inspiration," Perry said. "It's because of the pictures he painted with his lyrics, how he was a bit androgynous and larger than life."

6 Despite Her Upbringing, She Was Open-Minded Even As A Child


Katy Perry obviously looks back on her childhood with regrets and sour feelings towards her upbringing. We know Katy Perry today for empathy and kindness to all walks of life no matter their beliefs. But surprisingly, she had these characteristics even as a child. She has always been open-minded, curious and creative. These traits have obviously suited her well throughout her life.

In her 2011 interview with VanityFair.com she stated, “'I come from a very non-accepting family, but I’m very accepting,' Perry says of her religious beliefs as an adult…”

And, “...Perry says she didn’t stick with the mold growing up. “I have always been the kid who’s asked ‘Why?’ In my faith, you’re just supposed to have faith. But I was always like why?” she says. “At this point, I’m just kind of a drifter. I’m open to possibility . My sponge is so big and wide and I’m soaking everything up and my mind has been radically expanded. Just being around different cultures and people and their opinions and perspectives. Just looking into the sky.”

Additionally, through Katy Perry’s music we hear all about how open she is to possibilities and living curiously and creatively through her lyrics in songs such as, ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and more recently, ‘Chained to the Rhythm.’

5 She Started Out Singing Christian Pop


At this point, it’s no surprise that Katy Perry’s first musical pursuits were based off her religion. Though it is interesting to point out that despite their conservative views, Katy’s parents were still supportive of her trying to break into the entertainment industry.

NickiSwift.com writes, “Mary even accompanied Katy on trips to Nashville, starting when she was just 13 years old, to record her first album. The album, called Katy Hudson, wasn't released until she was 17, and though it was ultimately a failure — the label it was on folded — it opened Katy's eyes to the possibility of a career in music. Katy likened her experience in Nashville to the story of Alice in Wonderland, telling The Scotsman that her time in the music-rich city opened her eyes to "another world that existed beyond" her strict religious upbringing.”

As we now know, after years of hard work and patience, Katy Perry met her success with the release of her album ‘One of the Boys’ in 2008. After the sweeping success of that album, it has all been, mostly, uphill for Perry. And though no longer identifies as Christian, she does say that she believes in something more spiritual and larger than herself.

4 She Sang For Donations At Farmers Markets


NickiSwift.com reports the following, “In a Rolling Stone interview, Perry's older sister, Angela, said, 'Katy is a middle child, so she always tried to stand out. Our whole family is like that, in a way. We love entertaining people, putting on a show.' In fact, it was Angela who first started recording music — a gospel demo — that either sparked Katy's curiosity and/or jealousy, which propelled her to take her 'gift' of song to the public at age 9. So, Katy started singing for donations at farmers markets, while also channelling her parents' proselytization. 'If you don't live your life for Christ—I'm just going to say it—life is pretty empty, and, well, there may be no reason to live at all,' the pint-sized preacher told a crowd in an old home movie she also shared with Rolling Stone.”

A budding entrepreneur even at the young age of 13 years old, Katy Perry found a way to get herself a little attention and even make a little side money. Perry told GQ.com, 

“I’d go to the farmers’ market in Santa Barbara, and I’d put out my guitar case, and I’d test out these little ditty songs that I would write, and I would get a couple of avocados, a bag of pistachios, and, like, fifteen bucks. That was a lot of money for me.”

3 She Moved To LA When She Was 17 


At just 17 years old, Katy Perry made the bold decision to pack up and move to LA in order to try to get her career where she wanted it to be. NickSwift.com writes, “Perry moved to LA upon the encouragement of veteran producer Glen Ballard. Together, he and Perry made an album that was never released, because, as Perry claims she was told, "it didn't sound enough like Avril Lavigne," according to GQ.

During this period, Perry wrote bad checks, racked up tons of debt, and had two cars repossessed. She even landed deals with three different record labels, only to be dropped before ever making a breakthrough.

"It was super-discouraging. I got so close on records that I would bring a copy of it and the artwork and I would show it to my friends and say, 'Can you believe it? It's finally happening!' And two weeks later I'd get the call that it wasn't happening," Perry told The Scotsman. After seven years and a deal with Capitol Records that finally paired her with the right combination of hitmakers, Perry's career finally hit its stride.”

As mentioned before, Katy Perry went through a lot to breakthrough in her career. But the fact that she had the courage to pack up and move to LA on her own says a lot about her character. It’s no wonder she’s made it to the big time, even if it was a slow start for her.

2 She Has Always Been A Fashionista


When you think of Katy Perry, many of us think immediately of color, glitter and crazy outfits. Perry has done a darn good job branding herself with a style. As it turns out, she had an interest in fashion even at a young age. NickSwift.com states:

“That unique sense of style started early, in sixth grade to be exact, when she convinced her parents to buy her a vintage $175 dollar 'fake leopard-fur coat' for Christmas. Perry described to Vogue how the coat confirmed her suspicions that she was fashionista well ahead of her peers."

"'All the kids made fun of me, but I knew I was doing something right when the hot moms came over to me at school and were like, 'Where did you get that coat, sweetie?’”

From beaded rompers to dresses that look like fruit arrangements, Katy Perry is definitely not afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to her wardrobe. Other fan favorite outfits of Perry’s include her angel winged Giorgio Armani dress at the 53rd Grammy Awards, her musical Valentino gown at the 56th Grammy Awards and in very Katy fashion, she wore a black and purple cat inspired outfit as part of her Prismatic World Tour.

1 She Started Out Studying Italian Opera


You have to start somewhere, right? How many of us have started out doing something only to take it in a completely different direction? Well, Katy Perry is just like the rest of us! As we learned previously, Katy Perry’s first move after dropping out of High School and getting her GED? Why, Italian Opera, of course!

Wikipedia.com informs us that Katy Perry briefly studied Italian Opera at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. It was during this time that her singing caught the attention of rock artists Steve Thomas and Jennifer Knapp, who took her to Nashville where she improved her writing skills and learned to play guitar. And the rest, as they say, is history.

There’s not too much information provided on why Katy Perry chose to study Italian Opera, but according to MusikaLessons.com, “Classical technique is commonly used among voice teachers as a healthy foundation for any style of singing because it trains the singer to use his or her voice in its full capacity in the healthiest, most sustainable way possible.” Or perhaps she was just interested in Italian culture and Opera singing? Regardless, it was certainly an interesting first choice of what to do after dropping out of school and deciding to pursue music!

References: www.biography.com, www.wikipedia.com, www.theguardian.com, www.mtv.com, www.dailymail.co.uk, www.goodhousekeeping.com, www.thelist.com, www.bbc.com, www.vogue.com, www.rollingstone.com, www.glamour.com, www.abcnews.go.com, www.biography.com, www.seventeen.com, www.ranker.com, www.teenvogue.com, www.younghollywood.com, www.instagram.com, www.complex.com, www.mic.com, www.musikalessons.com, www.nickiswift.com, www.gq.com,

More in Did You Know...