Perry's commercial breakthrough came once she released her first mainstream studio album One of the Boys (2008). This was preceded by the release of her first single "I Kissed a Girl". Several successful singles followed, including "Hot n Cold", "Thinking of You" and "Waking Up in Vegas". Perry embarked on the Hello Katy Tour in support of the album. She followed this up with her second studio effort Teenage Dream which was an instant commercial success, topping the album charts in several countries. It spawned five number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100—"California Gurls", "Teenage Dream", "Firework", "E.T." and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)"; it became the first album in history recorded by a female artist to achieve this, and the second album after Michael Jackson's Bad (1987). In support of the album, she embarked on the California Dreams Tour. Teenage Dream was followed by a re-release titled The Complete Confection that spawned an additional number one, "Part of Me".
Perry has received multiple awards and nominations; she has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards and was named by Billboard as 2012's Woman of the Year. She has sold 11 million albums and 75 million digital tracks worldwide. Perry remains the only artist to spend 69 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Hot 100. Perry has ventured into celebrity endorsement and released her signature fragrance Purr. She has also made her film debut, voicing Smurfette in The Smurfs (2011). Perry was ranked at number fourteen on Billboard's list of top moneymakers of 2011, grossing more than $11 million. She was spotlighted in her own 3D biopic-concert film Part of Me (2012), which concentrated on her life as a touring artist and the breakdown of her one-year marriage to British comedian Russell Brand.
Perry was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson in Santa Barbara, California to Keith, a West Coast scenester in the 1960s, and Mary Hudson (née Perry), an evangelist who grew up in Southern California, attended Berkeley, and had a "tempestuous" first marriage in Zimbabwe. Perry has Portuguese, German, Irish, and English ancestry. She is the second child of two pastors. She has an older sister named Angela Hudson and a younger brother named David Hudson. Perry's uncle was director Frank Perry (who was her mother's half-brother).
As a child, Perry attended Christian schools and camps. Her parents were pastors, and she was incorporated into their ministry, singing in the church between the ages of nine and seventeen. She grew up listening to gospel music, and in an interview she said, "Growing up I wasn’t really allowed to listen to a whole lot of what my mom would call, secular music," She learned how to dance in a recreation building in Santa Barbara. She was taught by seasoned dancers and began with swing, Lindy Hop, and jitterbug. She took her GED after her first year at Dos Pueblos High School and decided to leave school in the pursuit of a career in music. Perry initially started singing "because [she] was at that point in [her] childhood where [she] was copycatting [her] sister and everything she [would do]." Her sister practiced with cassette tapes, while Perry took the tapes herself when her sister was not around. She rehearsed the songs and performed them in front of her parents, who suggested she take vocal coaching. She grabbed the opportunity and began taking lessons at the age of nine and continued until she was sixteen.