Remember When Katy Perry Was a Christian Music Artist?

Before Katy Perry, there was Katy Hudson.

Not Available Lead
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Not Available Lead

Before Katy Perry was laying half naked in cotton candy clouds and shooting whipped cream out of her bra your girl was a bubbly teenage Christian singer. In fact, before she was Katy Perry she was Katy Hudson, a blonde-haired bright-eyed songstress who toured the country way back in 2001 rocking the stage with pigtails and an acoustic guitar.

In a clip from a video that surfaced on Vimeo last summer, a young Katy P gives viewers a look inside of her tour bus, jokes about her pizza face, and talks about her love for performing with Christian bands. At the time, Perry was an opener on Phil Joel’​s Strangely Normal tour.

“I’m with the best Christian bands,” she exclaims, “and I’m on tour with them and hanging out with them and they actually laugh at my jokes. It’s awesome!”

It’s widely known that the often controversial songstress was raised in a Christian home by her pastor parents in Santa Barbara, Calif. However it wasn’t until she traveled to Nashville that she recorded her first album. In 2001 Perry released her debut album, a gospel record called Katy Hudson that did fairly well with critics, receiving praise from AllMusic, Christianity Today, and even Billboard.

“Her songwriting skills are so strong, it’s difficult to believe she’​s only 16—and was merely 15 when she wrote most of these songs,” wrote Christianity Today’s Russ Breimeier. “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.”

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.

Shortly afterwards, KP dropped the last name Hudson and switched it out for her mother’s maiden name, Perry, and we all know what happened to her career after that. Homegirl not only became one of the biggest pop stars of our time, she also became an international sex symbol.

In 2008 Katy Perry released her first major single, “I Kissed a Girl” under Capitol Records and became an instant success. However, her new image took a toll on her relationship with her religious parents.

In an alleged rant, Perry’s father, Keith Hudson, spoke about his daughter while preaching in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

“They ask how can I preach if I produce a girl who sang about kissing another girl? I was at a concert of Katy’s where there were 20,000. I’m watching this generation, and they were going at it. It almost looked like church.”

“I stood there and wept and kept on weeping and weeping. They’re loving and worshipping the wrong thing.”

Today, Perry’s relationship with her parents has cooled off a bit, but her relationship with religion is a complex one. In 2010 as she was showing an interviewer her “Jesus” tattoo, Perry opened up to Rolling Stone about her mixed feelings for the Bible.

“God is very much still a part of my life,” she said. “​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. But that’s the truth.”

She went on to discuss her spiritual connection and thoughts on being connected to planets and the universe.

“I still believe that Jesus is the son of God,”​ she says. “​But I also believe in extraterrestrials, and that there are people who are sent from God to be messengers, and all sorts of crazy stuff.”

“​I look up into the sky and I’​m just mindfucked—all those stars and planets, the never-endingness of the universe. I just can’​t believe that we’​re the only polluting population. Every time I look up, I know that I’m nothing and there’​s something way beyond me. I don’t think it’​s as simple as heaven and hell.”​

A few years later in 2013, Perry relayed to Marie Claire magazine that she still prays, but doesn’t identify with any particular religion.

“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. There’s a lot of gratitude in it. Just saying ‘thank you’ sometimes is better than asking for things.”

Last year after putting on a noteworthy Super Bowl halftime show—the biggest show of her career thus far—Perry admitted to E! Network that she got a thumbs-up from God for that performance.

“I was praying and I got a word from God and he says, ‘You got this and I got you.’ And then I was on top of the lion and a guy—a random guy—looked at me with a headset that I’d never communicated with before,” she said. “He looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘You got this.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s God confirming I can do this!’”

Currently—and ironically—Perry is in a legal battle with an L.A. restaurateur over whose purchase of a convent is legally sound: Perry’s from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, or the restaurateur from the nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A hearing in October will begin proceedings to determine who will be receiving the property.

While the public may be left scratching our heads about Perry’s current relationship with God and Christianity, one thing is for certain—if it wasn’t for a young Katy Hudson, her short blonde pigtails and her acoustic guitar performing gospel music on tour way back in 2001, Katy Perry, her satin black locks, and her whipped cream brazier surely wouldn’t exist today.

Latest in Music