Katy Perry Opens Up About ‘Tough’ Childhood with Sister Angela and Inspiration to Help Children in the Arts

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Katy Perry opened up about wanting to leave behind something impactful with her music career and the driving forces behind Firework Foundation.

In her childhood, the singer was raised by strict Pentecostal parents, whom she says struggled financially, and often her family relied on food stamps and food banks for meals.

“You want to talk about food stamps? I can talk about food stamps. You want to talk about food banks? I can talk about food banks. You want to talk about busking in the street as a teenager, hoping to make $20 to cover yourself, I can talk about that too,” Perry, 39, who launched the Firework Foundation in 2018 with her older sister Angela Lerche to help kids in underserved communities get access to the arts, told PEOPLE in its latest issue.

Katy Perry visits the SiriusXM Studios on August 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 07: Katy Perry visits the SiriusXM Studios on August 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Perry’s sister also serves as the president of the foundation, who went on to add, “A lot of times it’s reminding them that we didn’t come from anything either. [Katy] wasn’t born into some musical family that had all this access. She worked so hard for so many years to get to be where she is.”

Over the course since its founding, the Firework Foundation has hosted more than 400 middle school children to Camp Firework. Throughout the event, kids from underseverd areas around Los Angeles are able to participate in songwriting sessions, shoe design workshops and choreography classes.

Both Perry and Lerche are hands on during the camp, and “I’m up with them in the morning, and they’re throwing whipped cream on me in the evening,” says Perry. “The kids know me as the girl that sang ‘Roar’ or ‘Dark Horse,’ but I hope [by the end] they [think], ‘I too can live out my dreams like Katy Perry. She’s just like me, in a lot of goofy ways.'”

Katy Perry and Angela Lerche in 2022 at Camp Firework.
Katy Perry and Angela Lerche in 2022 at Camp Firework. Photo: Rony Alwin

Those who attend also are encouraged to take what they have learned back into their everyday lives. The children also are given mental health tools to help with some of their day to day routines.


“We [want to] support these young people throughout their whole education journey,” Perry says of the kids.

“I’m just so grateful. It’s so overwhelming because you hear so many stories from these kids, and what it’s like back home and what they’re dealing with,” says Lerche. “They give so much to us, and I’m just grateful that we’re able to show them that there is something better out there.”

Perry went on to add, “If in a hundred years nobody knows Katy Perry or the song ‘Firework,’ but they know what the Firework Foundation is, then I’ll have fulfilled my purpose.”

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