Two weeks ago, Christina, the sister of ex-Shinedown/Silvertide guitarist Nick Perri, was just another struggling L.A. artist waiting tables at the Melrose Place Café. But then, right in the middle of one of her worst days at work, a mutual friend (Keltie Colleen, a Radio City Rockette) got the Philly-bred troubadour's demo into the hands of "SYTYCD" choreographer Stacey Tookey--who loved "Jars Of Hearts" so much, she asked Christina to rush-record a professional version to be used for the above Billy Bell/Kathryn McCormick "SYTYCD" routine on June 30.
The song then exploded overnight, hitting number 13 on iTunes, number 23 on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart, number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 54 on Canada's single chart, number 10 on Amazon's digital singles chart, and number 2 on Billboard's Heatseekers countdown. And it quickly sold more than 100,000 copies. All this without a record deal!
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Christina Perri has lived what so many of us dream.
By “us” I mean artists, those who have gone off on our own—alone, at least in a way, in the way that no production company, or in my case, publishing company, has yet to pick us up. We forge onward, singing and writing and praying. In my case, mostly the latter two. I sing some, but only when alone, usually in the car. Not because I want to make a living that way. Except maybe I could get people to pay me to stop.
Congratulations to Christina. We don’t know each other at all, but we’re united in our passion for what we do, in our love for art, in our quest to create something different, but in a good way.
Her song is good. At least, I thought so. Give it a listen. Buy it, even.
I sometimes question the practicality, and—dare I say it?—even the value in what I do as a writer. As an artist. I try to paint pictures with words. I try to evoke emotion with stories. I try to move people with paper. It’s strange.
Likewise, I sometimes question the reason behind music. As I wonder why I feel compelled to play with words and find the best ways of using them, I too wonder why some people are compelled to play with sounds.
I don’t know the answers in full right now. I’m mostly just musing. I do know that I love listening to music while I write. And that’s enough, isn’t it? Music enhances life.
Whatever the reasons for art, I’m grateful musicians exist, and storytellers too. I know there’s value in it, in this creation of emotion in others. We inspire some. We comfort others. We make some happy. We help others cope. We explore the abstract, seeking to make tangible what humanity feels.
And sometimes, we just entertain, providing an escape. This, too, is important. Like everything else, escaping is best enjoyed in moderation. Finding a reprieve from this life, if only temporarily and even in fiction, can be a momentary salvation. This life is hard, because this world is broken.
My goal in my stories is to provide a place that’s whole. A place of peace, of hope, where even the most devastating of circumstances depart with, if nothing else, a sense of closure. Because honestly, this world is a place without closure. It seems that the problems we have will never end, will never fade. It seems we’re stuck here.
I seek not to create a permanent escape. To do so would be to seek the power of God.
Nor would we do well to seek to permanently escape. Not yet, anyway. If we leave forever, then we can’t make this place better. And maybe we can’t anyway, but can’t we at least try? Even if we fail, in trying, don’t we make ourselves better? The pursuit of something good creates something good in us.
Sadly, pursuing something bad seems easier somehow, even though it creates something bad in us.
So I write, exploring others’ stories, slogging through their mud so I can see their resolution. This helps me, because I see and learn from how they did it. And, since it helped me, I know it will help others.
In one way, the reason I’m writing and self-publishing my book is because I believe it will ultimately help my career. That’s the practical side of it. But there’s so much more. I’m just blessed to have found a practical use for my pursuit of this story.
I’m writing and self-publishing this book mostly because I believe in the power of the story it tells. If I could afford to, I’d give all the books away. Because, while I’ve had countless motivational factors come into play over the past year-and-a-half, it’s the story, and its subject, and what its meant to me and what I believe it can mean to others, that has driven me to the finish line.
Not to say we’re finished. We’re close. Quite close. But still so far away. We have a lot of ground to cover, and in a big hurry, if we hope to publish by this September. That’s the goal, September. But the goal is also not to publish in a big hurry, but to publish a quality book. Which I believe we will. (Although I do dread finding the typos and who knows what other mistakes that will inevitably sneak in there. Oh, the horror.)
I do know for certain we will be publishing by this November. But I’m eager, oh so eager, to get this book in your hands as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I take heart in stories like Christina Perri’s. For myself, sure, but also for others like her. Keep creating, everyone.
Christina, may your last name quickly supersede that of Katy. Because not are you much better, but everyone knows that spelling “Perry” with an “I” is way cooler.
(Click the below image to see So You Think You Can Dance contestants perform to Perri's song.)