Bensalem’s Christina Perri Has Breakout Hit With “Jar of Hearts”

Singer/songwriter becomes overnight star after an appearance on So You Think You Can Dance

Christina Perri knows precisely when she felt her life changing forever. It was the afternoon of June 30th in Los Angeles, and the Bensalem native was in the audience of the Fox hit show, So You Think You Can Dance. A song she wrote and recorded—“Jar of Hearts,” a plaintive, passionate ballad of ruined love—was the soundtrack for one of the show’s most moving routines. The audience went wild. Perri, who was then working in a local café to pay the bills, was speechless.

Ten minutes later, she checked her phone. Three hundred new Facebook messages appeared. The show hadn’t even aired on the West Coast yet. The next week, “Jar of Hearts” was #13 on the iTunes singles chart. On July 29th, she sang on The Tonight Show and shook hands with fellow guest Jennifer Aniston, who called her song “absolutely beautiful.” [SIGNUP]

“Every moment has been surreal,” says Perri, who turns 23 this month. “I don’t process them for a few days. But then there’s another moment that’s even more surreal.”

From church choir to school plays at Archbishop Ryan, Perri had always enjoyed performing. But it wasn’t until her older brother, Nick, left home to tour the world with his rock band, Silvertide, that she realized how much she missed hearing music at home. Perri taught herself to write songs and on her 21st birthday, she followed her brother to Los Angeles.

Perri returned to Bensalem for Christmas last December after a roller coaster ride out west—writing songs, producing music videos, marrying her production partner, getting divorced, leaving their business. At home in her childhood bedroom, she wrote “Jar of Hearts.” In February, she followed a friend back west to give her career another shot.

That’s when the snowball started rolling. Jason Mraz’s manager saw one of Perri’s YouTube videos and signed her. Then her friend passed “Jar of Hearts” along to her pal, a SYTYCD choreographer who paired it with a dance piece for the show. “Not to sound all hippie,” Perri says, “but I felt like the universe picked me up and put me on the right path.”

The day after her song aired, Perri’s manager fielded calls from record companies, eager to learn who this tattooed sprite with the big voice was. What followed that week is still a blur for Perri—flying to New York, performing for execs from 10 labels, and then heading back to L.A. for a live SYTYCD performance.

As she learned, in the Internet age, success can truly strike overnight. She now has a deal with Atlantic Records, a tour supporting Mraz this fall, and hopes to have an album out by the end of the year. She also quit the café and moved to a house in the Hollywood Hills. Not bad for a singer whose first performances, outside of coffee shops and Sunday mass, happened on national television.

“I still kind of float away and can’t believe it’s real,” she says. “I feel motivated and excited, but at the same time, I refuse to think. I don’t want to mess it up. I just want to do it and enjoy it. I was in London recording a song and I look over and Jason Mraz is playing guitar. I’ve gotta get used to us being friends. It’s kinda bananapants.”