Camille Peruto’s musical journey from Jersey to ‘Idol’ and back again

Camille Peruto has always been a storyteller, though the medium has changed over the years. “When I was younger I used to write short stories and eventually that turned into music,” says Peruto“Right before I became a teenager I started playing guitar, and it was the perfect time because I needed an escape from everyday life. I needed a creative outlet.”

While Peruto continues to tell stories through her music (and on her new album Perfect Vision) the story of how she went from small-town Jersey open mics to American Idol to social media virality is a good tale in its own right.

To get the full story of Peruto the musician, we have to go back to the beginning: the now-shuttered Coffeeworks in a shopping center in Voorhees—“I used to go there every Tuesday night after school and my other activities,” says Peruto.

Turns out those open mics helped lead Peruto to a full-time career in music. “People come up to me and ask me how to get a career in music, and I always tell them to start at open mics. It’s amazing practice, and you meet so many people. Sometimes I forget how big of a part of my life playing open mics was. From the end of eighth grade to the end of high school, I was there at Coffeeworks all the time.”

When Peruto attended Sterling High School in Somerdale, she kept music separate. She played softball after school, and would play shows at the bar across the street after that. Little did she know that in a few years that her music career would take her from playing those suburban South Jersey small venues to playing in front of J.Lo on American Idol

Peruto’s journey to Hollywood started in 2014 when she was approached by a talent scout; she was surprised because she didn’t realize that American Idol had people roving around to scout out talent. The talent scout approached Peruto and asked her to go to an audition in New York City. Peruto made the drive up the Turnpike to New York not expecting much. 

It was also the first time in the show’s history that people could audition with an original song, and that’s what the longtime storyteller did.

“I never felt like I was a crazy good singer, I always felt like I had music that I wanted to share with the world,” says Peruto. And for a moment the “world” was the producers of American Idol

She performed her original song “Sparrow” from her debut album in front of the American Idol producers, and for someone who wasn’t expecting much, she ended up getting more than she could’ve imagined. The producers gave Peruto a standing ovation. “Oh yeah, you’re definitely through,” Peruto says the producers told her. “I was like, ‘Holy crap, is this actually happening?’”

She made it through three rounds of auditions and performed in front of Adam Lambert and Jennifer Lopez for the final audition. Once the celebrity judges gave Peruto the thumbs up, she was on her way to Hollywood. 

Making it to Hollywood is the dream of every American Idol contestant, but once Peruto got to Tinseltown she couldn’t wait to get on the first flight back to Philadelphia. 

“Rather than being focused on talented people who the producers were sending home left and right, they were focusing on people who were bringing the drama,” says Peruto.

She did a few rounds in Hollywood and was relieved to be going back home eventually: “I remember texting people, and I was like, ‘I get to come home now.’ On the round before I got cut I sang a song and the crowd went wild. My face hurt from smiling, and that was all it took for me to be OK with leaving.”

After the show, Peruto went to work on her second album, From the Sea to the Sky, an album in which she experimented with her sound.

“It wasn’t just a singer with a band behind her like my first album. This album was dreamy, colorful, and the one album that I was so proud of,” she says.

One of the reasons why Peruto was so proud of her second album is that the album marked an end of a dark period in her life. “Right after American Idol happened I had a dark couple of years. When I was making From the Sea to the Sky I was coming out of that time. That album was me seeing a bright future.”

That bright future also included a remix of one her songs that reached over a million views on YouTube. In 2019, she released a single called “Silver Lining,” which would go on to garner a lot of attention.

“The story on ‘Silver Lining’ is that I just got out of a five-year relationship and wanted to rediscover who I was without that other person. I saw the silver linings through it all and it was all meant to happen for a reason.”

At the time Peruto wrote the song to get over a breakup, but little did she know that her song would become a nightcore favorite on YouTube.

“At first I was confused about what nightcore was, and I was like yeah you can remix my song. And now it has over a million views. That song has actually made me money,” says Peruto. 

Since that time, Peruto has moved down to Wildwood, and has made a career of playing shows down the Jersey Shore. She also released a new album in September 2021 called Perfect Vision.

“This album is called Perfect Vision because it’s my perfect vision of life,” says Peruto. “It’s also funny I recorded the album during lockdown in 2020, and 20/20 is perfect vision. 

“These songs on the album are about turning negative situations into positive situations,” Peruto continues. Like “Settled Down Somewhere,” about which the artists says: “When I listen to this song I feel like I’m in the ocean on a boat. The song is about finding your home, whether it’s a physical home or finding a home with someone and their family.”

Perfect Vision is able to streamed online, and on Oct. 22 there will be an album release party at the Music Barn in Mullica Hill.