Katy Perry’s Evolution: Teen Church Singer To Teenage Dream

The 2010 MTV Movie Awards performer has come a long way since her Nashville days.

[artist id="3274550"]Katy Perry’s[/artist] journey to the top of the pop world actually began in a far different place: Nashville, Tennessee. The daughter of pastors, she spent her early years singing in churches, then went to Music City as a fresh-faced 15-year-old looking to score a record deal. In the years that followed, it’s been a pretty amazing ride, one that doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.

On August 24, she’ll release the follow-up to One of the Boys, Teenage Dream, and she’s already got a brand-new single — the beach-ready “California Gurls” — that’s burning its way up the charts. She’s also just been confirmed as a performer at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards . It’s looking like 2010 is going to be a very big year for Perry.

So, before things get too hectic, we figured now would be a good time to take a look back at just how far Perry’s come. In her own words, here’s how she evolved from gospel-singing teen to chart-dominating, girl-kissing pop sensation.

From California to Nashville (And Back Again)
Born in Santa Barbara, California, Perry headed to Nashville in early 2000 with dreams of landing a recording contract.

“When I was 14 or 15, I started going to Nashville, Tennessee, to start recording gospel songs and be around amazing country music veterans and learn how to craft a song and play guitar,” Perry said. “I have definitely grown up and changed a lot.”

After failing to make an impact in Nashville, she changed her last name from Hudson to Perry, moved back to her native California and teamed up with famed producer Glen Ballard, eventually scoring a deal with Island Records. Perry got to work recording an album that, as it turned out, would never see the light of day. But the fire had clearly been lit. For the next seven years, she’d grind it out, bouncing between labels and writing partners, making cameos in music videos and, finally, hitting it big in 2008 with “I Kissed a Girl,” the first official single from her One of the Boys album. And the rest, as they say, was history.

“I came from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. With a wonderful producer named Glen Ballard, who brought me out here and kinda looked out for me for three years,” she explained. “After being signed and dropped, signed and dropped, signed and dropped by a couple different record labels whose names I will withhold, Capital Records picked me up.”

Kissing a Girl (And Liking It)
As she said, Perry spent most of the mid-2000s bouncing between labels and teaming with a host of top-notch songwriters. In 2007, she finally found a home at Capitol Records and began working with the team of Dr. Luke and Max Martin, who helped her craft what would become her breakout hit: “I Kissed a Girl,” a tune that topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven straight weeks and, in the process, turned Perry into a bona fide pop sensation. Other singles followed, and they were hits too, but Perry wasn’t content to rest on her laurels. Instead, she began looking toward the next phase of her career … not surprising for a girl who had worked so hard to get to this point.

“For me in this past year and a half, I think some people have an idea of who I am or a little piece of the cake, but I get to show off,” she said. “I am really excited to be ever evolving and changing with my look, my music. It keeps me entertained as well. The next record will be very pop.”

A California Gurl With Teenage Dreams
Perry spent a good chunk of 2009 working on the follow-up to One of the Boys, teaming up once again with Dr. Luke and Max Martin. Teenage Dream is inspired by Ace of Base and roller-skating jams, Perry said, and the first single is a triumphant slice of summertime pop called “California Gurls,” an ode to her past and her future.

“It’s so exciting [the album] is coming out this summer. It’s a summer record. It’s what I said I wanted earlier. I finally got it. We nailed it,” Perry beamed. “There might be some really cool guest’s appearance. Some rappers from the West Coast, since I am a California girl, you know.”

So, with an almost certain second smash on her hands — not to mention a very high-profile wedding to comedian Russell Brand looming on the horizon — where does Perry go from here? Even she’s not sure just yet. But she knows that whatever she does, it’ll be big.

“I feel like bit of a volcano,” she said. “I’m ready to explode with all of these new songs. I have a different perspective, and I changed a lot.”

What would you say is the highlight of Katy Perry’s career so far? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Don’t miss the MTV Movie Awards, airing Sunday, June 6 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV!