Once upon a time, there was a girl named Christina from Pennsylvania who loved to sing and write music. She moved to LA and was working as a waitress when her fairy godmother, choreographer Stacey Tookey, chose her now famous song, “Jar of Hearts,” for the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. Five years and two albums later, Perri is living the dream as a top-selling artist and currently touring with fellow industry supernova, Colbie Caillat, on their “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too” Tour, coming to Roanoke on July 28.
SH: How did Stacey Tookey come across your song, “Jar of Hearts,” which she used to choreograph a piece for So You Think You Can Dance in 2010?
CP: That is my favorite story to tell. It sort of sounds like a Disney movie. I was working as a waitress, and my best friend of 15 years was helping to manage me. I was “discovered” on YouTube by a management company, even though I didn’t have any views. They put me in the studio and I started making a demo like the million-and-a-half people in LA. I emailed my friend the demo of “Jar of Hearts.” She actually grew up with Stacey Tookey in Canada—they were both dancers—and she emailed my song to her. It was seriously like Cinderella. What came next is just a dream. A magical dream…I always tell people that you have more of an opportunity if you don’t give up. Do what scares you.
SH: “Jar of Hearts” is just one of many hit singles for you in the last five years. In addition to climbing the pop charts, you also have songs on film soundtracks, most notably “A Thousand Years” and “A Thousand Years, Pt. 2” on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1 and 2 soundtracks. How does the writing process differ when working on a song for a soundtrack compared to a song for an album?
CP: That was my first time, with “A Thousand Years.” I got the phone call about writing that song, and I cried and fell on the floor because it was one of my favorite books. I’m so in love with the love story between Edward and Bella. I was so invested in the story that the writing felt really naturally. I originally wrote it for the wedding scene, which most people don’t know. The song plays during the credits. But people have played it at weddings, and it’s become one of the most popular wedding songs today. People intuitively knew that song was for the wedding scene. Every time I have success with a single it lets me continue doing what I’m doing. I’ve been to 5 of the 7 continents because of “A Thousand Years.”
SH: Over the years, you have collaborated with many distinguished performers, including Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran. What is it like to work with other artists? Is there anyone you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?
CP: I am a huge fan of a lot of people. I’m a fan first, because this career is still so new. Chris Martin and Ryan Tedder are two of my favorite songwriters in the world. Jason and Ed are two of my favorite artists, as well as close friends. So far I’m satisfied with all of the collaborations I’ve done. I can’t imagine what album three will bring. People always ask me about the future, but I can’t tell them because I didn’t even known this was going to happen.
SH: The “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too” Tour is your first co-headlining tour, with Colbie Caillat. Caillat is amazing—2 Grammys, sold over 6 million albums and 10 million singles worldwide. What can you learn from working with Caillat?
CP: I really admire Colbie as an artist, but mostly I admire Colbie and Rachel Platten as people. I love them as girls. I love who they are. I love their messages in their music. Colbie is awesome to tour with. I imagine I’m going to study her as an artist. When I tour with people I ask them a jillion questions. I’m so inquisitive. It’s going to be a fun two months.
SH: Artists helping artists is essential in today’s business. Recently, in response to a letter from Taylor Swift, Apple announced that it would be paying artists during the free 3-month trial period of the new Apple Music. You commented on this via Twitter. Why was this so important?
CP: I responded to Taylor’s tweet without even thinking. I had no idea it was going to be a big thing. I knew what she did was powerful. It was my natural response as a songwriter and performer and musician. It’s horrific to think that people wouldn’t be paid for the work they do. Taylor was the only person that could have written that letter. She is the most powerful musician today. A lot of us are not in that position. She spoke for all of us, which is amazing. Who doesn’t love Taylor Swift? The letter was so well written, everyone could understand it. The way technology is evolving, it’s a learning curve, but to not get paid for three months…so many people go into making the music they listen to, and people don’t realize that anymore: producers, engineers, musicians. It’s fun, but it’s also a business.
Christina Perri and Colbie Caillat with High Dive Heart
Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too Tour
July 28th, 7:30 p.m.
Elmwood Park, Downtown Roanoke