"I've wanted to be a musician my whole life," Christina Perri, whose debut album Lovestrong is out Tuesday (May 10), told us during her recent stop in New York City as the opening act for English singer/songwriter James Blunt's tour. "I sang for people in churches, I sang for people at my parents' barber shop — whether they wanted to hear me or not — and I really haven't stopped since then."
Despite her astounding vocal and instrumental talents (she plays piano and guitar), the 24-year-old rising star may not have been sharing a stage with James Blunt this spring if it hadn't been for her song "Jar of Hearts" becoming an overnight sensation.
"My song aired June 30, 2010, on 'So You Think You Can Dance,' and from that moment, my whole life changed," Christina recounted. "I was a waitress before, and the 10 years before that, and then the next day I wasn't a waitress anymore. I flew to New York City, I met every record label [and] I signed with Atlantic."
Having made her round of televised appearances, including "Conan," as well as countless radio show visits all across the country, her tour with James Blunt marks her first official road outing.
"I'm so honored that he picked me and we instantly clicked," Christina smiled. "He made me feel really comfortable. He'd come over and be like, 'Are you guys okay? Do you have a tech? Do you have everything you need?' "
As it turns out, many James Blunt fans already happened to be Christina fans as well. Christina recalled the amazing moment when she realized how well she had been matched with Blunt during her first performance on the tour. "The reaction that they gave me, and singing the words to my songs — I didn't know how perfect of a fit it was until I actually walked onstage."
Naturally, fans expect a lot from the quickly rising star. Perri explained how that pressure taught her how to put on a full 45-minute show. "I've had to wrap my head around a show, like I have a beginning, a middle and an end, and I've thought about how I want to take the audience and what kind of journey I want to have."
The next step of Christina's journey begins Tuesday with the release of her debut album Lovestrong.
"Lovestrong is something that I'm unbelievably proud of putting out into the world," Christina remarked. "I thought very long and hard about which songs I wanted to put on there. I mean, I wrote every song on the album. All the songs are about love because that is what inspires me, and all the songs have this element of strength."
Fans can get excited for her first headlining tour this summer. "I'm going to go around the country to the littlest places and get super-intimate with people," she said with a slight smile, suggesting the rapid success is still new and settling in for her.
"Lovestrong, to me, the word is what I strive to be and it's what I hope to be and it's what I hope for all the listeners to be too."