When folk-popper Christina Perri took the stage of TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” last month to sing her latest single “Burning Gold,” she was overcome by an eerie feeling of déja vu, a palpable sense of irony and emotion so powerful she nearly cried.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but it wasn’t until they said ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1!’ and I walked out that I thought, ‘Oh, my God! This is the stage!’ It just shot goosebumps up my whole body,” she says – with good reason.
Perri, 28 – who plays The Masonic in The City today – remembers the exact moment when her life changed, thanks to the Fox reality program.
“I didn’t have a career until 8 p.m. on June 30 in 2010,” she says. Having moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia, the aspiring songwriter was working as a cafe waitress when she attended “SYTYCD” in a rented dress that evening to watch her then-unknown ballad “Jar of Hearts” be transformed by choreorgrapher Stacey Tookey into a routine for Kathryn McCormick and her dance partner Billy Bell.
By midnight, Perri – without a label, lawyer or management – was the most-Googled name on Earth, and “Jar” was an overnight iTunes smash.
It was surreal, recently returning to the series to accompany a dance by Tookey (featuring McCormick and Season 9 winner Chehon Wespi-Tschopp) to “Burning Gold,” a song she wrote about her first experience there, “or when my life, so to speak, turned gold,” she says.
“The people there were the same, like Stacey, and I had Kathryn dancing with me again,” she says. “So there I am, singing this uptempo, fun jam, but I’m looking at Kathryn and getting choked up, even though we’d rehearsed it. I was so overcome with gratitude, I was exploding with it.”
“Jar of Hearts” eventually was included on Perri’s Atlantic Records debut “Lovestrong” in 2011; “Burning Gold” is featured on its recent followup “Head or Heart.”
After coming home from a 27-month tour, she collapsed into a confused heap. “I laid on the floor and cried for three days, thinking, ‘There is no way I’m doing another album. But two weeks later, I sat at my piano and wrote this song called “Trust.’” The material kept flowing.
To avoid sophomore pressure, Perri disappeared into a studio in rural England to record “Head or Heart.”
“I’m not going to lie. love every word, note, melody, sound and tone on this album,” she says. “And now I get to tour for two years and play these songs that I like so much. It’s awesome!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Masonic, 1111 California St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29
Tickets: $35 to $69.50
Contact: (415) 776-7457, www.livenation.com