When Jackie Evancho submitted a video to YouTube to compete for a slot on "America's Got Talent" she could never have predicted that a little push of the "send" button would eventually send her to...Expand
When Jackie Evancho submitted a video to YouTube to compete for a slot on "America's Got Talent" she could never have predicted that a little push of the "send" button would eventually send her to the top of the entertainment industry. Remarkably, Jackie was 10 years old at the time, but her long-held desire to perform -- sparked after seeing the film version of "The Phantom of the Opera" convinced her parents to let her take a chance at stardom. And Jackie has shown everyone that she has the brilliant talent needed to succeed.
"She is a prodigy; they break the rules by definition," wrote music critic Andrew Duckenbrod in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after seeing Jackie perform to a sold-out crowd in her hometown in October, 2011. "[Her] voice mesmerizes."
She's gone so far so fast and new opportunities keep presenting themselves. Already the recipient of Platinum and Gold records and music industry acclaim, Jackie has accepted a new challenge and will make her premiere as an actress. She has been selected to play Robert Redford's daughter in "The Company You Keep," a political thriller that Redford will also direct and produce.
"I am so happy that Mr. Redford picked me to be in his film. And I am excited to learn from performers that are amazing at what they do," says Jackie, who will be part of a star-studded cast that includes Susan Sarandon, Shia LeBeouf, Terrance Howard, Anna Kendrick, Nick Nolte and Stanley Tucci.
In less than 18 months, Jackie's unique, gorgeous soprano has won her millions of fans and her recordings have dominated the music and DVD charts. Her warmth, charm and poise have helped her gain the support of legendary music producers like David Foster, and now, movie producers like Redford. Billboard Magazine named Jackie to their list of music movers-and-shakers under the age of 21 because her "spellbinding, operatic vocals possess a power and poignancy that often moves listeners multiple times her age to tears."
Since appearing on "America's Got Talent" Jackie has recorded one EP (O Holy Night) and two full-length albums (Heavenly Christmas and Dream With Me), all of which raced to the top of the Billboard charts.
When O Holy Night, which was Jackie's major label debut, was released in Nov. 2010, it became the year's #1 best-selling debut recording with sales exceeding 1 million copies. It rocketed into the Billboard 200 at #2, and the EP's chart and sales success secured Jackie's position as the year's top-selling debut artist as well as the youngest female solo artist to debut during the SoundScan era. In addition to its pop chart success, O Holy Night reached #1 on the Billboard Classical Chart and #2 on the Billboard Holiday chart.
In June 2011, Dream With Me, her first studio album was released. A mix of operatic arias, show tunes and pop standards, it debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #2 and was certified Gold after only four weeks of release. When PBS aired Dream With Me In Concert on their Great Performances series, it instantly became one of their most broadcast programs of the year and was used extensively during pledge drives.In the summer of 2011, she sold out concert halls around the country during a tour that culminated with a show at home in Pittsburgh and later at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Her most recent effort, "Heavenly Christmas," a full-length holiday album, was released in November 2011 and is sure to immediately became a holiday classic.
Jackie's trip to the top of the charts almost didn't happen. She auditioned twice for "AGT" in person in Philadelphia and the producers passed on her. "I saw a video with ["AGT" host] Nick Cannon saying they were [also] doing YouTube auditions," recalls Jackie's father Mike. "We decided to put something up and then we forgot about it."
But the "AGT" viewers who watched Jackie's stunning audition submission became instant fans. She earned the mostvotes and captured the twelfth contestant spot among the slate of "AGT" for the show's fifth season.
Her first on-air performance, in which she sung Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro," delighted the judges, who were generous with their praise. "I can't believe that from this tiny body, this huge mature voice you have," said Sharon Osbourne. Piers Morgan said, "This is one of the most extraordinary performances that I've ever seen on America's Got Talent'." Howie Mandel simply stated, "You're an angel. You're a superstar."
Looking back, Jackie says her desire to perform was born after her family saw the film version of "The Phantom of the Opera" when she was just four years old.
"We went to see it in the movie theater. It was very, very good," Jackie told Pennsylvania television station WPXI. "It was a very long movie and we were mesmerized by it." Her mother, Lisa, purchased the DVD and something in Andrew Lloyd Webber's score made a big impression on the little girl. Still, as she sang the melodramatic tunes from the film around the house in her shimmering soprano, "We really didn't think [her voice] was anything out of the ordinary," says her dad, Mike. "She's our oldest daughter; there were no other seven-year-olds to compare it to."
Mike and Lisa remember the night they realized that had more than just a "nice" voice. "At her first little talent competition, we invited my parents," Mike recalls. "She started to sing, my folks looked at each other like What's going on here?' Plus with the crowd reaction, we knew how special her singing was."
Though other pre-teen singers are limited to pop tunes, Jackie's understanding of classical phrasing and her perfect pitch and diction allow her to tackle difficult music that is far beyond the ability of her peers. "I never really had a pop voice," she once said. "But even if I had a pop voice, I would have gone with classical because it's different from what many other children do, because with classical you're able to show emotion in it."