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My Musical Heritage:

T he Story of Katy Perry and Emily Loeb


Emily Loeb My Musical Heritage 24 April 2013 Katy Perry Katy Perry is an inspirational recording artist who has been recognized worldwide, and her album Teenage Dream created five number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100. This album made her the first female artist in to achieve it in history, and only the second album ever after Michael Jackson’s Bad. Perry has received numerous awards and nominations, but she is a lot more than that. Katy Perry is a real person who inspires a generation to go out and be who they are. Perry currently has three albums and is working on her fourth. Her first album was a Christian Rock album created while she was still using the name Katy Hudson. It was self-titled and was created while she was 15, and it was her only gospel album before she made the switch to mainstream pop music. Trust in Me was the lead single of this album, and Search Me was the other single released from this album. One of the Boys, Katy’s second album, was created with Capitol Music Group under the direction of Jason Flom and writer-producer Dr. Luke. Working with them created the single that put Katy on the map: I Kissed A Girl. With that one single, her career took off and she went from being a potential star to full blown celebrity. Other notable songs on One of the Boys included Hot n Cold, Ur So Gay, and One of the Boys. Most recently, Katy has released an album titled Part of Me. Prior to its release, the album’s main single California Girls was published, which stayed atop Billboard’s Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks. Other chart toppers included Teenage Dream and


Firework. As a result, Katy became the first female in eleven years to have three consecutive number-ones from a single album. Currently Perry is working on her fourth studio album. Katy commented that this album alters her sound and is significantly darker than her previous albums. She took a break before she started, stating that she wanted to make sure to get it right and not duplicate the sound of her previous albums. Her fourth album is in works to be released Summer of 2013. Katy Perry was not always who she is today, and before she became the bubbly superstar the worlds knows and loves, she had a much more traditional upbringing. Both of her parents were extremely religious with her father being a Pentecostal Pastor that traveled all over the country to preach. As a child, Perry’s parents sheltered her from the outside world. She mentions that she was not allowed to watch anything but the Sister Act II, not even the Smurfs or any other types of cartoons. Perry grew up only listening to gospel music, and when she started to show signs of musical talent, her parents suggested she take vocal lessons. She jumped at the opportunity and began private lessons at the age of nine, continuing them until she was sixteen. One day when Katy was about 12, she was over at a friend’s house. This friend played Alanis Morissette’s album for Perry and it inspired her to let her feelings and emotions out into song. From there, Katy began writing song after song and would perform them for church groups. When her family had traveled to Nashville for her father’s work, Perry caught the attention of rock veterans who took an interest in her vocal and songwriting ability. She ended up being signed to the Christian label Red Hill. Under this label she


recorded her first, self-titled album at age 15. Red Hill ended up tanking, leaving Katy Perry’s album unsuccessful and widely unheard of. While religion still played an important part in Katy’s life, she decided it was time to leave home at the age of 17 and find herself as a person and an artist. She got picked up by Island Records, and when asked by her producer who she would like to work with, she was extremely unsure having almost no exposure to the world of pop music. That night at the hotel she was staying at with her mother, she happened to see on TV that producer Glen Ballard had worked with Alanis Morissette’s influential album, and Katy instantly knew she wanted to work with him. Ballard and Perry set off to create her debut album as Katy Perry, however it was a struggle. Island Records wanted to dictate Katy’s look and would not listen to any direction that she tried to create for herself. In the end, the album never went anywhere and was shelved before its release date in 2005. Island Records prepared to drop Perry from the label. In 2004, Katy signed with Columbia Records. However, they did not share her creative vision for her identity as an artist and refused to put her in the driver’s seat. Instead, they pair her up with the record production team The Matrix. This team was working on an album and needed a female vocalist. It completely tanked as Katy was not the right fit for their sound, and the album was quickly shelved. Before it could be shelved completely, Perry had caught the attention of the music press. The media led her to be named “The Next Big Thing” by Blender magazine. Having no ongoing album project, Perry began recording her own titled Fingerprints.


After getting eighty percent of the way done, Columbia decided to once again shelve the record and drop her from the label. In the process of being dropped from Columbia Records’ label, their publicity executive Angelica Cob-Baehler recommended Katy to Virgin Records chairman Jason Flom. He immediately became convinced that Perry could be the breakthrough star he needed and, at the start of 2007, had discussions with Columbia that lead to Katy being signed by the newly created Capitol Music Group, a merger between Virgin and Capitol. As part of the deal, the label received the masters to Perry’s unfinished album, which went on to form a significant portion of her debut album, One of the Boys. Finally Katy Perry was at a record company that would give her the creative license to be who she wanted to be as an artist. She was finally free to create the music that would not only launch her career, but also would inspire and bring hope to a young generation of listeners. When Flom looked through the recordings that Katy had created at Columbia Records, he identified them as being very strong but lacking an undeniable smash or two. Because of this, one of the executive’s first actions after completing the signing was to set up a collaboration between writer-producer Dr. Luke and Perry. The results of this collaboration were the songs I Kissed and Girl and Hot n Cold. A most immediate concern of her management was establishing her image. Finally it was time to pick the song that would launch Katy’s career. It came down to her choice, and she chose I Kissed a Girl. Perry became an overnight success. I Kissed a Girl topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for seven consecutive weeks and turned her into a star even faster. Her album One of the Boys was released a little over a month later, and


received mixed critical reviews. The album ended up reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Perry’s second album, Teenage Dream, was released on August 24, 2010. It topped the Billboard 200 chart and has since sold over two million copies in the United States alone. Before it was released, it was preceded by the single California Girls featuring rapper Snoop Dogg that topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks. Because of the album Teenage Dream Katy became the first female in eleven years to have three consecutive number-ones from a single album. Presently, Katy is working on her fourth album. As previously stated, it is going to be much darker than her currently bright, bubbly, fairytale style. When asked in an interview, Perry stated that she is not in any hurry to release another album and she wants to make sure she gets it right. She mentions that you can only get so big before you fall on your face. While Katy Perry does consider herself a spiritual person, she does not connect herself with the Pentecostal upbringing her father kept her so close to. She identified herself as having a close and personal relationship with God, and it is something she explores every day. Perry is also a gay rights activist, and she is extremely vocal about it. She believes in equal rights for all. I personally relate to Katy Perry in many ways, especially in terms of my upbringing in relation to hers. My mother has always been very devoted to her religion, and because of that I was exposed to it from a very young age. The first choir I was in ended up being a church choir, and for most of my musical life I have sang gospel type


music. These are the similarities that drew me to Katy Perry when I first started looking into her past. Not only do Katy and I have a similar religious background, I was also extremely sheltered as a child. While it was not to the degree that Katy’s parents maintained, it was still fairly extreme that left me ignorant of many types of media and cultural references. Many references took me a long time to understand, even spanning into my adult life. We also both left home at a similar age to find ourselves and figure out who we wanted to be. Music in my family has always been of extreme importance, especially with my mother. My mom had originally wanted to become a professional flutist with a symphony and was first chair in her high school band. She was extremely serious about her studies and a complete perfectionist when it came to the flute. When I was young, she would recount the countless hours she spent honing her craft. It was her life, and she helped instill the passion that I have for music. My personal musical heritage started at an early age. When I was around four years old, my family began to recognize my musical talent in my early stages of sight reading ability as well as my perfect pitch. They immediately put me in the church choir and began to help me develop my singing ability in any way possible. In third grade, I decided to audition for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. Little did I know, it would be an experience that would alter the way I saw music and change who I am as a person. With the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, I learned how to read music, how to hone my already innate sight reading abilities, and how to really delve into the world of music that is so vast and deep.


Because I was in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, I had the courage to continue to pursue music throughout middle school and high school. My high school in particular was very serious about its music program. By my sophomore year I had made the top choir and top band, something that was practically unheard of by the standards of progression in the choirs at North Central High School. During this time, I was also beginning to write songs, just as Katy Perry did around the same time. While I was not as prolific in the songwriting department as Perry, I still wrote, recorded and produced many songs. It became an emotional outlet for me that allowed me to channel my feelings, much in the same way it was for Katy. I relate to her songs because it is easy to feel how personal the lyrics are. Each song means something to her, and her albums are comprised of almost no filler music, which is not only refreshing but is also part of what makes her a huge success. Music and technology seem to be changing at an even pace. It is really interesting to see the impact technology has had on the music industry. Not only has the recording quality changed over the years, but also the types of music that can be created has changed because of technology. After all, there is a whole genre named “techno� that is really the epitome of technological music. In regards to recording quality, it is really amazing how much clearer and succinct music can sound now. Advances in technology have created devices that not only create that clarity but also allow certain portions of music to be edited. Many musicians sound different when performing live because of auto tuning and other edits made to their voice. Often times there are even performers who sound much worse when singing live.


Luckily, Katy Perry is not one of them. Her live performances are as good if not better as her recorded ones. I personally have used technology to my advantage when creating music. Using relatively amateur equipment and my MacBook Pro, I was able to create a professional quality recorded song that sounded as if it had been made in a studio. It is a huge advantage to pick up a relatively cheap microphone and be able to record such high quality sound. Katy Perry is a fabulous recording artist who is a much deeper person than what you can find at face value. She has intangible layers that, when peeled back, makes her music that much more meaningful to the listener. With the crazy ride that Perry’s life has been, it is no wonder it speaks to a generation and really has a lot more soul than people give her credit for. My own life experiences and journey connect me with Katy’s experience, and I relate to her. There are many similarities in upbringing that we share, and it was truly a joy to get to know her and the life behind her music. She has inspired and influenced some of my own work intrinsically. Technology has truly been a game changer in the world of music. Without technology, the industry would not be so connected or vast, and not only that but the music we listen to would not be as polished as it is today. While there are some negative aspects of technology that are brought to the music industry, overall it has revolutionized the field and brought changes that keep music moving forward.

My Musical Heritage: The Story of Katy Perry and Emily Loeb  

Katy Perry's journey as an artist resonated with me on a personal level. In this chapter, I explore those relationships and discuss Perry's...

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