Fame came for Christina Perri as 'Hearts' hit TV show

Singer-songwriter Perri's song vaulted her from waitress to star after 'Dance'
2011-07-14T00:00:00Z Fame came for Christina Perri as 'Hearts' hit TV showMichelle Weiss For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Everything fell into place for singer-songwriter Christina Perri when one of her songs debuted on Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance."

The 24-year-old went from unknown waitress and singer living in Los Angeles to star overnight.

"Jar of Hearts" became an instant hit after Perri performed the song live in front of a national audience for the first time. Since then, it has sold more than 2 million copies.

She said it was a surreal experience, like "performing in a space ship."

"It was one of the best nights of my life and weirdest night of my life. I'll never forget the magic of it and forever be grateful for everyone who made my dreams come true," wrote Perri, who conducted this interview by email after straining her voice during a European tour.

Perri kicks off her headlining tour in Las Vegas and hits Tucson on Monday with a sold-out show at Club Congress. She spent April and May touring with James Blunt.

"Hi Tucson Arizona! I can't wait to see you soon and play 'Lovestrong.' for you! Love, cp," she wrote.

"Lovestrong.," Perri's first album, was released in May and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.

Though Perri said she tries not to focus on numbers and reviews, she is proud of her songs and the team of people that helped with the album.

"I was happy for all of us and I was just completely honored."

Perri said her favorite performance was when she opened for Blunt in her hometown, Philadelphia.

"Over 150 family members were there and kind of in the front, so when I asked for some house lights I saw everyone I love more than anything in the world," she said. "I was so overwhelmed I'll never forget it."

Perri writes all of her music and lyrics.

"Songwriting is something I didn't even think about not doing," Perri said.

She remembers falling in love for the first time when she was 15 and learning to play guitar.

Singing love songs about what she was feeling was something she "just needed to do."

"I haven't stopped since, and I hope I never do," Perri said.

Perri taught herself to play guitar and piano.

"So I'm not technically awesome, I sometimes don't know the notes or strings. ... I just feel it," she said.

She doesn't prefer one instrument over the other when writing, but she said it's harder to come across a piano on the road.

"It doesn't matter to me which instrument I run to, just as long as I run to one when I'm about to burst," Perri said.

She spent 10 years writing solo but has learned to collaborate since signing her record deal.

While it isn't always easy to connect with another writer on something as personal as a song, Perri said she clicked with David Hodges, a former member of the band Evanescence.

She said the two are now best friends.

Perri and Hodges wrote four songs on "Lovestrong." and continue to write together.

Perri said she likes to take what she calls a "skeleton song" that only has vocals or an instrument and then figure out what other instruments fit.

To accomplish this, Perri works with her producer, Joe Chiccarelli, and members of her touring band.

Her habit is to write songs in a single sitting, when the mood strikes.

"Jar of Hearts," for instance, was written on her guitar in one night.

"I remember the moment, time, place and hat I was wearing when I wrote it," Perri said. "I actually made a video of it so I wouldn't forget."

At the time, Perri said, she had no idea it would launch her career.

"I remember being pretty excited about it and playing it for my mom," she said.

"Jar of Hearts" has also been performed on "Glee" by Lea Michele.

" 'Glee'! I couldn't believe it. ... I was extremely honored and Lea is so talented, I thought she sang it better than me!!!" Perri wrote.

Perri described the making of "Lovestrong." as the best, and worst, 33 days of her life.

"The emotional process of creating 'Lovestrong.' has definitely made me stronger in every area of my life," she said.

Her favorite song on the album, "Tragedy," was written in 2002.

"It became better than I could have dreamed when we added the gypsy-esque violin. I felt it completed my baby debut album and it completed my heart," Perri said.

The album as a whole is reflective of love and her past relationships because she said it's what inspires her.

"I'm so grateful for the experience, and though I'll still never know the secrets to a perfect relationship, I feel strong enough to keep trying and writing more songs about them!"

But Perri doesn't write the songs for the "dudes" in her past relationships. She writes them for herself and her listeners, she said.

"They're 100 percent personal and basically the songs I needed to get through," Perri said.

Perri said she is thankful for social networking because it is how she was discovered.

Her managers spotted her YouTube video through Twitter and contacted her on Facebook.

Perri remains accessible online. She has an email address for fans to write to her, lovechristina@christinaperri.com

Perri said she can't wait to thank her fans in person.

"I hope people enjoy the music and leave feeling stronger."

If you go

• What: Christina Perri in concert, with honeyhoney.

• When: 7 p.m. Monday.

• Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

• Tickets: Sold out.

Michelle Weiss is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com or 807-7776.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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