Pop star Katy Perry — once an up-and-coming Gospel singer — said recently she’s “never felt closer to God” than when she recorded her latest album, “Witness.”
She told Paper magazine the 15-track project, which debuted in June 2017, was like “10 years of therapy in one week,” an experience that led her to feel “so much release and relief.”
Perry, whose birth name is Katheryn Hudson, said she grew up in a Christian “bubble” — both of her parents are evangelists — but always found herself probing for answers to her faith’s biggest questions.
“Not just to be an a**hole,” she explained. “Just because I’ve always been super curious.”
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When she was 16 years old, just one year after the release of her Christian record, Perry said she felt herself “backsliding.” Her career started taking off, and her interests broadened, making it easier to step out of the “bubble” in which she once lived.
Perry was discovered that same year by producer Glen Ballard, best known for putting Alanis Morissette on the map, and soon moved to Los Angeles, where she lived in a posh apartment in Beverly Hills. Looking back, the 34-year-old singer remembers being overwhelmed by the “very chic” apartment.
“I came from a lower- to middle-class family,” she explained. “Every fight my parents had was about money.”
Around the same time, Perry set off for England, where she wrote a series of songs, including “Nothing Like the First Time,” a sensual ballad about exactly what it sounds like. Initially, the singer-songwriter said, she felt bad about the sexuality in the song, but then she decided she quite liked it.
Perry landed her first major hit, “I Kissed a Girl,” in 2008.
After years of soaring success, it all came to a standstill — a collapse, really — when in the aftermath of the 2016 election, her album “Witness” was heavily criticized for its “half-woke” response to President Donald Trump’s victory.
In that tough season, Perry did what she felt most comfortable doing: she turned to the limelight. She became so open about her mental health — and her struggle therein — that she live streamed a handful of therapy sessions on YouTube as a way to promote the much-maligned record.
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The process, Perry said, gave her the chance to think about herself more positively.
This is not the first time Perry has recalled her Christian upbringing or dabbled in her seemingly dormant faith.
In July 2017, just one month after “Witness” dropped, the pop star met with Pope Francis. Remembering the encounter in an interview with Vogue Australia, Perry said her mother frequently prays she will one day “come back to God.”
“I’m such a big fan of Pope Francis,” Perry said. “It’s a combination of compassion, humility, sternness and refusal. He is a rebel — a rebel for Jesus.”
Now Perry, who has “Jesus” tattooed across her wrist, said she’s focused on “spirituality and heart goodness.”
Of that “Jesus” tattoo, she told Katie Couric in 2009 the marking serves as a reminder of her Christian roots and that she “can always go back” to her faith.