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‘Jar of Hearts’ singer taking Petersen stage with confidence | TribLIVE.com
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‘Jar of Hearts’ singer taking Petersen stage with confidence

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, September 3, 2014 9:01 p.m
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Atlantic Records
Singer-songwriter Christine Perri

The classic saying is that musicians have their entire lives to write their first albums and six months to make the second. Hence, the sophomore slump.

Rock history is littered with follow-up albums that paled in comparison to the first.

Christina Perri, who will open for Demi Lovato at a concert Sept. 9 at Petersen Events Center, Oakland, had the exact opposite experience with her first two albums. Her 2011 debut, “Lovestrong,” had to be done in a frenzy — 33 days, with recording being done in two studios at the same time. Perri’s follow-up, “Head or Heart,” wasn’t so rushed.

“I ended up counting,” Perri says. “It was one year and 78 days.”

That reversal was a product of her one-of-a-kind breakthrough onto the music scene.

Her meteoric arrival happened in 2010 after a friend emailed a demo of Perri’s song “Jar of Hearts” to a choreographer for “So You Think You Can Dance.” Against all odds, her song was chosen to be played on the show, and after getting a huge response, Perri — then unsigned with little happening with her music — was invited a week later to perform on the show. It was the first time the soon-to-be-ex-waitress in Los Angeles had performed in public. “I was on television in front of 60 million people that day,” Perri says. “Yeah, I grew six gray hairs on that first performance.”

Posted hastily on iTunes, “Jar of Hearts” had 220,000 downloads in the days that followed, and Perri quickly landed a deal with Atlantic Records.

“Album 1 was insane,” Perri says of “Lovestrong.” “We were chasing the single. And it was just so backward.”

Then, it was on to touring. After 27 months on the road — with a break to undergo vocal-cord surgery — Perri finished up in October 2012. It was then that she decided to take the necessary time with her second album.

But there were compromises to be made. Atlantic wanted Perri to work with outside songwriters — people like Martin Johnson, David Hodges and Jamie Scott, who have written hits for other artists.

Perri agreed, but wanted to write on her own first. “I did my part, but I knew, too, look, I’m on a major label,” she says. “I’m not going to fight against what they want, because I want them on my side.”

The finished album does a good job of bridging the gap between the singer-songwriter feel of the first album, while injecting more of the danceable beat-driven pop that is suited to today’s commercial radio sweet spot.

“Head or Heart” is still mainly a singer-songwriter album, with ballads like “Trust,” “Run,” “The Words” and “Human” setting the tone for the album. But there are also uptempo tunes, like “Burning Gold” and “Shot Me in the Heart,” with big, danceable choruses, while “Be My Forever” is a bouncy pop confection with guest vocals from Ed Sheeran that sounds like a future hit single.

Perri says the tours she did behind “Lovestrong” helped her learn about performing, and she’s now considerably more present and comfortable onstage.

But the biggest improvement is a result of her vocal surgery.

“Without a doubt, the biggest jump in confidence I had and the difference between the first album and this album is the new voice,” Perri says. “It’s seriously unstoppable.

“That gave me so much freedom, so much growing room to do and to, like, literally enjoy myself for the first time.

“So, this tour pretty much embodies all of that. I’m having a blast. I’m not thinking too much. And I think the audience is going to see how happy I am.”

Alan Sculley is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

Categories: Music
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