Christina Perri has come a long way since she packed up her suitcase and guitar and left her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in pursuit of a music career in Los Angeles. Her second record, “Head or Heart,” featuring her latest single, “Human,” is due out on 4/1. She’s embarking on a headlining tour with a stop at the Majestic Theater on 4/11.
Creativity has always been in Perri’s blood. She was singing at three years old, and writing poetry for as long as she can remember. She wrote her first song at 15, “As an emo 15-year old I didn’t know how to handle everything, so I wrote about it,” she says. She’s written hundreds of songs since, most of which nobody will ever hear, but Perri is still always writing.
Her dream wasn’t always to become a musician, though. “I was always way too shy,” says Perri. “I wanted to write songs for other people.” One day she decided that she just had to go for it, despite her fears and insecurities, when she was pulled out of her waitressing job like Cinderella. After that, her music career took off very quickly.
Her debut album, Lovestrong, which spawned the hit singles “Jar of Hearts,” “Arms,” and “Distance,” was released in May 2011 and sold over 444,000 copies in the United States. Almost every song on Lovestrong is about love and heartbreak, but Perri says that won’t be the case on Head or Heart. The album speaks about the inner turmoil that comes with deciding whether to follow your head or your heart in different situations in life, whether it’s love or not.
“I would say that I’m really proud of how much I’ve grown,” she says. “A lot of the songs from Head or Heart are about learning how to exist as myself and like myself.”
To say that Perri’s songs are autobiographic would be an understatement. Her music makes listeners feel as if they actually know her. On Head or Heart, she believes that the album’s opener, “Trust” speaks about her the most. With the album’s message of self-acceptance, she feels that the song opens the door to the other songs and sets the tone for the entire album.
That’s not the only difference between the two albums. She’s taken a lot of risks and changed things up on her sophomore album when it came to the sounds and production. Perri also got vocal cord surgery to remove a cyst before the recording of Head or Heart. She postponed treating it for a year, but after she went under the knife she says that her voice is much stronger.
“There have been some nights that I’ve cried because I didn’t know if I was doing this right,” she says. “But I’m so happy now with all of the decisions I’ve made and the fights that I’ve fought.”
Head or Heart has been in the making since October 2012, so it’s been a long time coming. She had been writing songs on her own, and began collaborating with nearly 30 other writers, including fun.’s Jack Antonoff. She recorded with producer Jake Gosling in London this past summer, and finished recording in Los Angeles with Butch Walker, John Hill and Martin Johnson.
The Head or Heart North American Tour kicks off on 4/4 in Denver, Colorado, and will last until 5/26 in Vancouver, British Columbia. “I really couldn’t be more excited,” she says. “This is the fun part.” She’s been rehearsing with her band for the past week, working out every little detail, and will be doing so until the tour begins.
Birdy, Perri’s labelmate, will be opening on the Head or Heart Tour. She released her first album, a self-titled record of mostly covers in 2011, and her second album Fire Within came out this past September in Oceania and Europe. A North American release is planned for this year. The 17-year-old also has an EP available in the United States called Breathe, that features some songs from Fire Within as well as live versions of songs from her debut.
This will be Perri’s second headlining tour. In 2012, she also opened for one of her influences, Jason Mraz, on his Love is a Four Letter Word Tour. The two of them still keep in touch, he had even just texted her the morning of the interview to let her know how much he enjoyed the new album.
Nick Perri, Perri’s older brother who had played with bands like Shinedown and Silvertide, is one of her biggest influences as well. “I’m the little sister, so I want to do everything that he does,” she says. Other than her brother, though, Perri draws inspiration from a wide range of musicians. Her father is from Italy and Perri grew up listening to a lot of Italian love songs, so she loves singers like Dean Martin. She also loves the Beatles and Chris Martin of Coldplay is one of her favorite songwriters. “I’m a fan of a lot of people,” she says.
In between recording, writing and touring, Perri also works with charities and non-profit organizations. “I Believe,” a song that eventually made its way to Head Or Heart was written for a three-stop tour for To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit that works to support people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury or suicide.
Perri’s tracks have also made it to movie and TV soundtracks. “I Don’t Wanna Break” was recently featured on volume two of the Girls soundtrack, and “A Thousand Years” was featured in Twilight: Breaking Dawn.
Speaking of TV and movies, though it must be hard for Perri to make time for herself amongst her busy schedule, she still manages to enjoy her favorite TV shows. She makes a point to tune into NBC’s Parenthood, and would love to be able to make a cameo as herself, recording at Adam and Crosby’s studio, or she would love to play one of Khaleesi’s handmaidens on HBO’s hit, Game of Thrones.
“I’d say my only song that [actually] isn’t autobiographic would be ‘A Thousand Years,’ because I’m not a vampire,” she says. “But I wish I was!”
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