When you think of Katy Perry, what comes to mind? Her luscious “assets,” chart-topping hits, short-lived marriage to comedian Russell Brand, reportedly ended by text message? (In fashion magazine Vogue’s July issue, Perry reveals details about her divorce from Brand and talks about her love affair with John Mayer.)
If huge record sales, multiple awards and the world’s continuing fascination with her are any indication, Katy Perry sports a healthy dose of the X-factor, that elusive, exquisite quality that Simon Cowell seeks on the popular reality-competition series of the same name.
The X-factor fascinates us, draws us in, causes us to yearn in a certain way that is compelling and undeniable. What is this X-factor that Katy Perry and others demonstrate? Could it be God?
The daughter of two Pentecostal preachers, Perry was surrounded by music and singing from infancy. With her parents serving as preachers and program-leaders in the church, it is sure that little Katy sang constantly (although at that time, she was singing hymns and spiritual songs—definitely not about kissing girls and liking it).
Singing is a key component of a church-based family lifestyle, and Perry briefly addresses her experiences coming up in this lifestyle in her autobiographical documentary, “Part of Me.” Although she communicates a sense of dislike for the limitations of her upbringing (and it is clear she has happily left them behind), could these humble beginnings have contained something valuable? Something which laid the foundation for what was to come for Perry as a vocalist and performer?
The Secret Chord
Have you noticed that many super-successful singers’ history include a religious/gospel singing background? Consider other singers who reached massive success after religious/spiritual/gospel beginnings, including Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Whitney Houston, Elvis, nearly too many to name!
Through practice of the art of praise by song, it seems that a certain foundational training of the voice and heart takes place. In praise, there is something released in the voice and the heart that pleases the human soul (and, one can assume, the ear of God). Songwriter Leonard Cohen comments upon this phenomenon in his famous song “Hallelujah”:
I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord
Performers who have learned from years of “practice” how to tap into this intangible “secret/sacred” chord have something special to offer us. They emit a certain essence that pleases, making our hearts ache to sing along with their “broken Hallelujah”.
So what exactly is this X-factor that Katy Perry and others demonstrate? Could the intangible quality that draws us in and makes us love one performer above another, could this “secret/sacred chord”—be God?
Deep Calleth Unto Deep
When one talented soul releases their “depths”—their heart and soul, their essence—into their work, that work touches the rest of us in a deep place, a place we may not know how to tap into on our own. It is a heart open-ness, a certain vulnerability and purity of tone, a putting forth of the heart into the song that draws us in. It is delicious and it calls forth our own deep heart response, as one bible verse states, “Deep calleth unto deep.” Psalm 42:7
Is the Divine speaking to us through our rockstars and popstars? Are they our modern-day prophets, speaking/singing future truths into us, teaching us how to tap in, opening and preparing our hearts for the next phases of human development?
Could the X-factor demonstrated by Katy Perry and others be the presence of God? What do you think?
Written by Cybelle Clements