I remember the first time I heard Jackie Evancho sing. I was in my family room with my mother watching an episode from the fifth season of America’s Got Talent. There stood this beautiful 10-year-old girl with shoulder-length blonde hair and bright blue eyes holding a microphone. I didn’t expect much from her and my attention began to fade away…until the music started to play. Suddenly I heard this mature opera voice belting out of this tiny young girl. The judges, and America, fell in love with Jackie — so much that she came in second place that season.
Three years later, Jackie is a mature, well-spoken teenager touring the world. Some of her recent career highlights include performing with legendary Spanish opera singer Jose Carreras in Taiwan in April and being a part of the live PBS special “A Capital Fourth” on the fourth of July.
LSY’s Tim O’Shei and I sat down with Jackie before a recent show in New York. Prodigy status aside, Jackie comes across as a typical 13-year-old girl. She was polite, well-spoken and had a big smile across her face. During our brief time together, she reminded me no matter how old you are or what your talent is, if you are passionate about something you should go after it. Don’t be afraid and don’t let people hold you back. If a 10-year-old can do it, why can’t I?
– Lauren Kirchmyer
What is something about this business and this industry that you wouldn’t have known until you actually stepped foot into the industry?
Jackie: I didn’t really know that you had to be so involved. I knew you had to be involved but because I was younger I didn’t expect myself to be as involved as I am now, which is something that I actually appreciate.
What kind of involvement are you talking about?
Jackie: Clothes, the day of a concert and whether it’s ok or not – just easy things.
Do you think that fame is fun? That people know your name and know who you are?
Jackie: I think it is fun, most of the time. I’m not at this stage yet, but it’s not fun when you’re followed by people. But I’m not in it for fame. I’m in it because it’s really fun.
What’s your favorite part about this?
Jackie: Just being able to sing. I really love singing. It’s something that is really natural for me and I think it’s exciting to go on stage and perform for so many people.
How did you get your start with singing?
Jackie: It started with the movie The Phantom of the Opera. I went to go see it in the movie theater with my family and I couldn’t stop watching it. I got home and I started singing the songs around my house. My mom heard me and said, “She has a good voice.” She asked me if I wanted to do a talent competition. I said yes and I ended up becoming first runner up to a 20-year-old opera singer. I guess that was a sign that I was good at singing. From there on, we traveled around a lot of places in a car, sleeping on the side of the street and stuff. Finally, after two times of auditioning, we decided to do the YouTube audition version for America’s Got Talent.
How did America’s Got Talent help you in your career? What did it teach you?
Jackie: It taught me that there’s a lot of hard work that goes into being a star, and just getting a chance to be a star.
What have you learned about handing the spotlight?
Jackie: You can’t really let it get to your head. It’s nice to be gracious.
How do you stay grateful and grounded with what you’re doing, instead of letting it get to your head?
Jackie: First of all, it’s a lot to do with my family. They always help me stay grounded and point out moments when I’m being a diva. They’ll say, “Hey, you’re being a diva!” and then I’ll stop. It’s also because I’ve seen what those kind of people are like and they’re not even famous. I always think to myself, I would never ever want to become that. So that’s kind of my motivation.
After being on the show, did people start treating you differently?
Jackie: Not really. Sure, I got fans, and that’s really exciting. People on the streets used to say, and they still do, “Oh my gosh, Jackie Evancho! Can I have an autograph or a picture?” I love that. It’s really nice to know that my fans like me but my friends and my family didn’t treat me any different, which is nice.
Is there something that people don’t realize about you until they actually meet you?
Jackie: I’m probably shorter in person, I guess! But not really.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you for your career?
Jackie: You can’t let the people who hate you or envy you get you down, and that you just have to keep going no matter what.
Do you see yourself being a singer for the long term, or do you have any other plans with your career?
Jackie: I’m hoping that I’ll be a singer for the rest of my life, because I really love singing!