A young woman moves from the Philadelphia area to Los Angeles, where she waitresses her way through the music business until a mutual friend of hers and the producers of Fox Television's So You Think You Can Dance uses her emotional song "Jar of Hearts" during its broadcast." Stardom ensues.
We're talking about Christina Perri, who hits the Electric Factory on Saturday night. That honey-voiced single sells 3 million-plus copies, she releases her debut 2011 album, Lovestrong, places her song "A Thousand Years" in the film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn in 2012, and tours relentlessly to sold-out crowds.
"You can't write that script," says Perri. "From the dance program hit to writing a song for my favorite book, there's no way to predict that."
Perri performs at the Iridium Jazz Club in Manhattan for Public Television's Front and Center. Her episode debuts on WHYY's Y2 Channel at 4 p.m. on June 4.
This month, Perri dropped her sophomore album, Head or Heart, and headed out for her umpteenth tour, which brings her home and to the Electric Factory on Saturday.
The Perri family - parents, aunts, uncles, cousins - is likely to be out in full force. I was witness to this when I reviewed Perri's Tower Theater show in spring 2011. I'm still waiting for Christina's aunt to feed and fatten me up, as she promised.
"Oh my God," says Perri. "Yeah, my family is nuts. Thankfully, they'll be out in droves this weekend, considering that my guest list is ridiculous. They're as committed to me as always."
What Perri, 27, has been committed to since wrapping her last tour in 2013 was the writing process for Head or Heart. "I had just gotten home from my ninth tour for Lovestrong - the next morning," she says, "and was laying on the floor, when I started writing 'Trust.' " During that writing session, she came up with the title for the new album, which she insists has nothing to do with the mega-successful "Jar of Hearts."
"It doesn't, but that's funny," says Perri. "Everyone was talking to me about the scary second-album syndrome, and I was trying not to be spooked. If I truly let that idea sink in, I could've been talked into writer's block." So Perri started to write about all the experiences she had gone through - "simply, honestly, the truth of it all" - and whether she was looking at it all through her head or her heart.
"This album is me just working out my stuff," says Perri. "That's my platform. Me. Things I'm emotional about, feelings that go along with loving others and loving myself - the dynamic of it all - and not just meeting a guy and digging a guy."
Sonically, Perri pushed away from the intimate tones of Lovestrong. Having fallen in like with Coldplay's 2011 album Mylo Xyloto, Perri wanted a sound reminiscent of theirs but with the intimacy of her first album, "something that fills up your car and fills up a stadium's walls." New relationship songs such as "Sea of Lovers" and "I Don't Wanna Break" had to stand next to remembrances of moving from Philly to L.A. ("Burning Gold") and media stories about herself ("I Believe").
Then there's "Be My Forever," a moving power-duet recorded with ginger-haired supernova Ed Sheeran. She told Radio.com the song concerned one particular gentleman. Now that the song is out there . . . is that man still in her life?
"No, I'm not with that person," she says quietly. "It was gnarly and it was awful at the end, and pretty much over by January. I was annoyed by it, but I meant every word. The song itself is the happiest thing I've ever written, and there is no way I would have done that by myself without being urged on by a situation."
Perri is not Taylor Swift, and there's not a hint of vengefulness in the tune. "My feelings are so genuine in that song, it was so totally worth the heartbreak to have that song to sing every night. . . . That's the last time I trusted my heart, and I think it sounds that way."
8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St.