As she makes the transition from pre-teen singing sensation
to professional artist, Evancho, who turns 14 in April, is
seeking to balance her school work — and play time — with a busy
concert tour schedule and recording her sixth album.
"She has the challenge of going from child star to legitimate
artist," said Lisa Evancho, who tours with her daughter, helping
to steam-press her dresses before performances and supervising
her rehearsal routine.
"It's no longer 'Let's go see the circus freak — the little girl
with the grown-up voice.' It's more like wanting her to stand on
her own ability and keep the career going in that direction.
And, it looks as if it is," she said.
A runner-up finish on "America's Got Talent" in 2010 introduced
Evancho, from Pittsburgh, as the newest — and youngest — classical crossover singer. Since then, Jackie has packed
concert halls across the country and overseas, as well as
landing duets with Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Jose
Carreras, and two solo TV specials for PBS.
She also appeared with Robert Redford in a 2012 movie, "The
Company You Keep."
Evancho got a standing ovation last week at Miami's Adrienne
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where she displayed her
stunningly mature vocal power, phrasing and range in a rendition
of "My Heart Will Go On," from the movie "Titanic," as well as
her personal favorite, "The Music of the Night" from "Phantom of
Onstage, she still has a little-girl-lost look between songs,
accompanied by nervous little waves and glances at the audience.
These days, however, she opts for wearing an elegant evening
gown, over the knee-length skirts she wore on "America's Got
"I still get very nervous," Jackie confessed after the show.
"But I enjoy it all immensely."
As soon as she starts singing, the confidence in her largely
untrained voice shines through. Despite her blossoming musical
career, Evancho says she has no professional coaching, and only
rehearses for an hour three times a week with her mother.
She is often asked how she got such a voice.
"We like to say it was a gift from God," Jackie said, admitting
she has tried three times to learn to read music, but just can't
get the hang of it.
She has tried voice coaches but none has worked out.
"They wanted to try and change Jackie's voice," her mother
said. "But we don't want her to sound like every other soprano."
Music runs in Jackie's family. Her father played drums in a band
as a young man, and her mother played clarinet and oboe in high
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Her own musical tastes are diverse, all the way from
classical to Lady Gaga.
Despite her lack of formal music training, Evancho has been blessed
with such a good musical ear that she has a virtually photographic
memory for what she hears.
"When she starts, she can see the entire song in front of her. It's
a rare gift," said her traveling conductor John Mario Di Costanzo,
who has worked with some of the world's top opera divas. "Jackie
sees the architecture of a piece as she is singing."
Evancho performs at 2,000-seat concert halls around the country
about three times a month, and has almost 100 concerts under her
belt. After a Christmas show, she did two Florida performances last
week and will be at the 2,600-seat Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on
"My parents don't want me to be exhausted. They let me stay home as
much as possible so I can have my friends over," she said.
The last two years were spent in cyber-schooling, but Jackie missed
the classroom and returned this week to public school.
How big her career will become is still hard to say. She has no
ambitions to become a pop singer, and says the classical crossover
genre suits her voice better.
Evancho's next album — another classical crossover — due out later
this year, includes her first original composition.
She already has one album that sold over a million copies, and three
Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.
Evancho says she hopes to go to university and study philosophy.
"Singing is my main goal, and I think philosophy will help me write
However Jackie's singing future turns out, she will have plenty in
the bank to pay for university.
"She's done very well and she can afford her own education — and
probably her three siblings as well," said her mother.
(Editing by Gunna Dickson)
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