Katy Perry was born in Santa Barbara, California, on October 25, 1984. Perry, the middle child of two pastors, grew up in a strict Christian environment, listening to gospel music and singing in church. Though Katy was not allowed to listen to non-Christian music as a young girl, she later became enamoured with artists like Alanis Morissette and Freddie Mercury. Religious music remained her focus in early life, however, and in 2001 Perry released a self-titled Christian album under the name Katy Hudson. Shortly after graduating from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California in 2003, Perry moved to Los Angeles at the age of 18 to pursue her music career.
In 2004, Perry began working with The Matrix, a record production team who had previously helped the success of other female singers such as Avril Lavigne, Liz Phair, Hilary Duff, and Britney Spears. Perry started work on a debut album due for release in 2005, and was named "The Next Big Thing" in 2004 by Blender Magazine, in which Perry was quoted saying that she veered from her Christian upbringing, saying she wasn't "a typical Christian", and that she had done "lots of bad things" growing up. Perry caught the attention of Virgin Record executives, who own Capitol Records. Capitol signed Katy in 2007, and she released her album One of the Boys in the summer of 2008. Her single “I Kissed A Girl” hit the charts before the album, in April, and made Perry an instant success in the mainstream pop industry.
Despite her mainstream success, Perry has undergone criticism from many critics and activists for what they see as homophobic and male-hating overtones in her first two singles off the album, “I Kissed a Girl” and “Ur So Gay.” Other columnists have claimed that the lyrics in either song are celebratory rather than defamatory, and if anything, the controversy has helped Perry gain even more visibility and define her own space in the music industry.