Jacqueline Marie "Jackie" Evancho (/iːˈveɪŋkoʊ/ ee-VANG-koh; born April 9, 2000) is an American classical crossover singer who gained wide recognition at an early age and, since 2009, has issued an EP and six albums, including a platinum and gold album and three Billboard 200 top 10 debuts. She has released three solo Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) concert specials.
Between 2008 and 2010, Evancho entered several talent competitions; made singing appearances, including the U.S. national anthem at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game and concerts with Tim Janis and David Foster; issued an independent album, Prelude to a Dream; and attracted interest on YouTube. In 2010, at the age of ten, she gained wide notice with her 2nd-place finish in the fifth season of America's Got Talent. With the 2010 holiday release of her O Holy Night EP, Evancho became the best-selling debut artist of 2010, the youngest top-10 debut artist in U.S. history and the youngest solo artist ever to go platinum in the U.S. She performed at the 2010 National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, D.C. In 2011, her first full-length album, Dream With Me, produced by Foster, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, and she became the youngest top-5 debut artist in UK history. Billboard ranked Evancho the top Classical Albums Artist for 2011. Later that year, Evancho released a full-length holiday album, Heavenly Christmas, and became the youngest person ever to give a solo concert at Lincoln Center in New York City as part of her Dream With Me Tour.
From late 2012 to 2014, she toured the U.S. to support her 2012 album, Songs from the Silver Screen, which was Evancho's third top-ten album debut. In 2013 she headlined benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall, the LDS Conference Center and with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas for the One Drop Foundation. She also appeared in the 2013 Robert Redford film The Company You Keep and modelled for Guess Kids clothing. After releasing her 2014 album, Awakening, Evancho has begun high school, continued to tour, and released several singles, collaborations, and a 2016 holiday album, Someday at Christmas, her sixth consecutive No. 1 release on the U.S. classical albums chart. She is expected to release a new studio album of original songs in 2017. Evancho performed the U.S. national anthem at the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017.
Family and early life
Evancho was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Lisa and Michael Evancho. Her father operated a video security business until 2010. She has an older sister Juliet, a younger brother Zachary, and a younger sister Rachel. She and her family are Catholic and reside in a suburb of Pittsburgh. Evancho began her education in the Pine-Richland School District public schools, but in 2010, because of her performing schedule, she switched to cyber schooling. In 2014 she returned to public school at Pine-Richland High School. Evancho's interests include playing the violin and piano, sewing, swimming, playing with her pets, drawing, archery and riding horses.
Evancho saw the film version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera and liked it so much that her mother purchased the DVD; Evancho began singing the songs at home. Her parents have said that they did not recognize that her voice was unusual until her first talent competition, which she entered just before her 8th birthday. In the competition, Kean Idol, Evancho finished in second place. She began taking voice lessons and singing at various events, churches and nursing homes, mostly in Pennsylvania. She also started a YouTube channel, sang in the Children's Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh (now Pittsburgh Youth Chorus) during its 2008–09 season, and performed the title role in a 2009 school musical version of Little Red Riding Hood.
In 2009, Evancho competed in Las Vegas in the 15th annual U.S.A. World Showcase Talent Competition, where she also finished in second place. At the 2009 Kean Idol contest, she was again runner-up. In other 2009 talent contests, she won the Golden Ribby Award – WonderworldTV and the Talent Quest TV Show (both in Massachusetts). Also in 2009, she sang "Ave Maria" in composer and conductor Tim Janis's PBS television special "Celebrate America" and performed in other concerts and TV shows with Janis, who sought her out after seeing her on YouTube. She made various singing appearances around Pennsylvania in 2009 and 2010.
David Foster and Prelude to a Dream
Evancho first caught record producer David Foster's attention in 2009. She was selected for the regional semifinals of his "Hitman Talent Search Contest", finishing as runner-up, and in October 2009 she sang in the "David Foster & Friends" concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
In November 2009, Evancho released her independent debut album, Prelude to a Dream. The album featured mainly covers of classical crossover songs such as "Con te partirò", "The Prayer", "To Where You Are", "Concrete Angel" and "Amazing Grace". It debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 121, and at No. 2 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart, in August 2010, after Evancho's first performance on America's Got Talent. Evancho's parents withdrew the album later that month, citing Evancho's vocal progress since its release.
America's Got Talent
After two earlier unsuccessful auditions for the show, Evancho was accepted as a contestant on the fifth season of NBC's America's Got Talent (AGT) by placing first in its 2010 YouTube competition. On August 10, 2010, Evancho performed the aria "O mio babbino caro" in the show's quarter-final round. The judge's reactions were effusive. Afterwards, commentators queried whether her performance had been lip-synched. On the next evening's live show, Evancho sang an impromptu voice exercise to demonstrate that the broadcast was of her live voice. In an interview, judge Howie Mandel addressed the issue: "[W]hat people are ... really saying [is] that it's really too good to be true."
Her semifinal performance was "Time to Say Goodbye". She advanced to the Top 10 round, where she performed "Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem and was voted into the Final 4. Pittsburgh leaders declared the following week "Jackie Evancho Week". Her final competition performance, on September 14, 2010, was of Gounod's "Ave Maria". The following evening at the AGT season finale, Evancho sang "Time to Say Goodbye" together with guest artist Sarah Brightman; then Evancho was announced as the runner-up, finishing second to singer Michael Grimm. Many viewers and commentators felt that Evancho should have won, and Grimm expressed surprise at the outcome. The show brought Evancho wide exposure to American audiences, as up to 16 million viewers watched her performances. The finale show was AGT's highest-rated episode in three years. Evancho became one of the two most successful AGT alumni. She was a guest on The Tonight Show a week after the finale, where she sang and gave her first late-night interview with Jay Leno. Evancho was featured and interviewed in the 2013 book Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent.
Later in 2010, Evancho performed in 10 of the 25 cities in the America's Got Talent: Live Tour quickly signed a record deal with SYCO music and Columbia Records and performed in Las Vegas with David Foster. From June 2010 until mid-2011, Evancho was coached by voice teacher Yvie Burnett, a mezzo-soprano from Scotland, who has worked with other singers appearing on AGT. Tim Janis scheduled Evancho to perform in his show at Carnegie Hall in New York City in December 2010, where she would have been the venue's youngest female vocal soloist. During the AGT tour, however, her parents withdrew her from the Carnegie Hall event; by the time of that event, Evancho had begun making promotional appearances for Columbia Records.
O Holy Night
Evancho's first release on a major record label was a Columbia Records EP titled O Holy Night. It was released on November 16, 2010 and entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2, making Evancho the top-selling debut artist for 2010 and the youngest solo artist ever to debut in the top 10. It also launched at No. 1 on Billboard's Classical Albums chart and No. 2 on Billboard's Holiday Albums Chart. The album sold 239,000 copies in its first week. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA, making Evancho the youngest solo artist ever to go platinum in the U.S.
Evancho promoted the album on TV beginning with The Oprah Winfrey Show on October 19, 2010, where she sang "Pie Jesu". Among several other talk shows, QVC appearances and holiday singing appearances, Evancho performed songs from the album and was interviewed on The Today Show and Fox & Friends, The View and Martha Stewart Living. Evancho sang "O Holy Night" in the 2010 My Macy's Holiday Parade in Pittsburgh and again on NBC's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting special, Christmas in Rockefeller Center, where she also duetted with Katherine Jenkins, singing "Silent Night". Evancho performed at the 2010 National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, D.C., singing "O Holy Night". Also in December, she returned to The Tonight Show and performed at the 27th annual Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, on ABC television.
Billboard ranked O Holy Night at No. 1 on its 2011 year-end Classical Albums chart. It also ranked the album as the No. 15 best-selling album of 2011 in the U.S. and the No. 31 Canadian Album of 2011.
Dream with Me
Evancho's second full-length feature album (her first on a major label), Dream with Me, produced by David Foster for Sony and Syco Music, was released on June 14, 2011. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, reached No. 1 on Billboard's Classical Albums Chart, and was certified gold by the RIAA. The album also performed well internationally, with Evancho becoming the youngest artist ever to debut in the UK in the top 5. The album's 14 tracks range from popular songs ("Angel") to classical arias ("Ombra mai fu"), and original songs, including the title track, for which Evancho contributed to the lyrics. Evancho sings duets with Barbra Streisand ("Somewhere") and Susan Boyle ("The Prayer"). A deluxe edition of Dream with Me, exclusive to Target, includes four bonus tracks: "Someday", "Mi Mancherai", "The Impossible Dream" and "A Time for Us". Allmusic gave the album 3-1/2 stars out of five, and USA Today rated the album 2-1/2 stars out of four, commenting: "[Evancho's] sweet, unblemished vocal tone and slow, careful vibrato hardly betray her young age. ... But Dream's predictable and often bombastic odes to love and faith can undermine the tween's most appealing quality: innocence."
Evancho promoted the album on talk shows and at concerts. She recorded a solo concert television special for the 2011 PBS Great Performances series that includes nearly the same songs as the album. The special, titled Dream With Me In Concert, was the most broadcast program of the year on the PBS network. Evancho was the youngest person ever to have a special on the series. It "became one of the most viewed specials in the 38-year-history of the Great Performances series [and] raised record amounts of money for PBS stations." The concert was co-hosted by David Foster, who played the piano in the orchestra for many of the selections, while Conrad Tao played piano and violin, respectively, for two songs. The special was released as a CD/DVD set, Dream With Me In Concert, and reached No. 1 on Billboard's Top Music Video chart. Allmusic noted: "the concert version ... should provide enough eye and ear candy to appease fans of the gifted young vocalist until a proper follow-up appears." The Sun wrote that the "classical crossover set ... showcases the extraordinary beauty of the child's pipes." In June 2011, Evancho performed "Nessun dorma" as a guest artist at the season finale of Britain's Got Talent and in September she returned to America's Got Talent as a guest artist, performing the same song during the U.S. season finale.
In July 2011, the singer began her first solo tour across the United States to promote the album. It consisted of 18 performances with symphony orchestras, including one with her hometown Pittsburgh Opera. Evancho made her New York City solo concert debut at Avery Fisher Hall in November 2011, becoming the youngest person ever to sing a solo concert at Lincoln Center. In December she headlined a concert with David Foster and Kenny G, featuring mostly songs from Dream With Me. After a concert in Tokyo in January 2012 with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the tour continued in the U.S. with tenor Josh Page duetting with Evancho in "The Prayer". Evancho's three February tour stops constituted the tenth top-grossing tour reported by Billboard for the relevant week. Evancho concluded the tour in June 2012.
On its 2011 year-end charts, Billboard ranked Dream With Me as the No. 2 best-selling Classical Album for the year and as the No. 45 U.S. album of 2011. Dream With Me was listed on the Billboard 200 for 28 weeks and the Classical Albums chart for a total of 74 weeks. Billboard ranked Dream With Me In Concert the No. 21 music video album of 2011 and the No. 16 music video album of 2012. Dream With Me In Concert was ranked on the Billboard.biz Top Music Video chart for 64 weeks.
Evancho's 2011 Christmas album, Heavenly Christmas, has twelve tracks and was produced by Rob Mounsey, who conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke's on the album. The selections include traditional Christmas carols like "The First Noël" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem", standards like "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "White Christmas", and newer songs, such as "Walking in the Air" (from the 1982 animated film The Snowman) and "Believe" (from the 2004 movie The Polar Express). The album was released on November 1, 2011, exclusively at Walmart in the U.S. and at other U.S. retailers in October 2012.
The album entered the Billboard Classical Albums chart at No. 1, the Holiday Albums chart at No. 3, and peaked on the Billboard 200 at No. 11. It peaked at No. 9 on the Canadian Albums chart. Allmusic's review gives the album three stars, commenting, "Evancho's vocals are impressive as always, and the arrangements are mostly tasteful, with only occasional moments of bombast". The Salt Lake City Tribune rated the album "A-", writing: "some of us are still taken aback when we hear such a strong, womanly voice float out of an 11 year-old child. ... Her best offering is the cherubic 'Believe'." Christopher John Farley of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "when she sings, she sounds like she's channeling a past life, a future self, or possibly an actual angel."
As with her previous albums, Evancho made talk show appearances on all major television networks to promote Heavenly Christmas, singing "The First Noël" on The View and The Talk, and "Believe" on The Tonight Show. She gave concerts that featured songs from the album in December 2011 in Buffalo, New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Pittsburgh, all with duet partner tenor Christopher Dallo. On its 2011 year-end charts, Billboard ranked Heavenly Christmas as the No. 4 best-selling Classical Album of the year. It ranked the album No. 41 on the 2012 year-end Canadian Albums chart.
Songs from the Silver Screen
Evancho's fourth full-length album, Songs from the Silver Screen, was released on October 2, 2012. The album is composed of 12 songs used in popular films, arranged by Bill Ross. The tracks range from the whimsical ("Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) to Disney songs ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King and "I See the Light" from Tangled) to inspirational anthems ("My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, featuring Joshua Bell, violin), to romantic standards ("Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific). Other collaborations on the album are "The Summer Knows" from Summer of 42, featuring Chris Botti, trumpet, and "Come What May" Moulin Rouge!, featuring The Canadian Tenors. An Allmusic review awarded the album 3-1/2 stars out of five, stating that the CD "finds Evancho more than up to the task, displaying maturity and poise."
A 2012 PBS Great Performances special called Jackie Evancho: Music of the Movies, filmed at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, features nearly the same selections as the album. It was directed and co-produced by David Horn and Humberto Gatica, and conducted and arranged by Bill Ross.
Evancho began a live 42-stop tour to promote the album in August 2012, giving her first solo concert featuring songs from the album in Japan with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The first leg of the tour included concerts in two dozen North American cities through June 2013. Evancho also appeared on television shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and CNN in late 2012, where she sang songs from the album and was interviewed. She resumed touring from late 2013 to August 2014.
The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 on the Classical Albums chart and No. 22 on the Canadian Albums chart. The debut made the 12-year-old the second artist who ever "amassed three top 10 albums [on the Billboard 200] at such a young age." The album remained on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks and appeared on the Billboard Classical Albums chart in 72 weeks. Songs from the Silver Screen was the No. 4 Classical Album of 2013 and the No. 36 Classical Album of 2014.
Evancho released her fifth full-length studio album, Awakening, on September 23, 2014 on Sony Masterworks' Portrait Records label. Evancho promoted the album with a concert tour that began in November 2014 and continued into 2016, and a third PBS special. The album consists of 12 tracks, including a mix of classical pieces, like Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise", the art song "Dormi Jesu" and the Vavilov version of "Ave Maria"; classical crossover covers of more contemporary pieces like U2's "With or Without You", Ennio Morricone's "Your Love", Lara Fabian's "Je t'aime" and Within Temptation's "Memories"; and several original songs. Walmart offered a deluxe edition with six bonus holiday songs. Evancho's cover of "My Immortal" by Evanescence was included as a bonus track exclusively on the version sold in Japan.
In June 2014, Evancho released her first single from the album, a cover of "The Rains of Castamere" from Game of Thrones, followed by a shadow-art video for the single. She offered a second track, "Think of Me" from The Phantom of the Opera, in July, and a video for the song, in September 2014. The same month, Evancho released a digital download of a track called "Go Time" promoting Justice clothing stores, which displayed it on their website and played it in their stores, and Billboard streamed Evancho's third single from the album, "Your Love". A last single and corresponding video from the album of "Ave Maria" was released in November 2014.
Evancho began her television promotions of the album with a return to America's Got Talent as a guest artist, singing "Think of Me" at Radio City Music Hall, in September 2014 during the show's ninth season. The same month, on The Today Show, she sang "Your Love". Other television and media appearances included The Queen Latifah Show, the Oprah Winfrey Network and the Dr. Phil show.
Evancho's Awakening: Live in Concert tour began in November 2014. It included stops across the U.S. and one concert in each of Costa Rica and Canada. She also made a third PBS special to promote the album: Awakening: Live in Concert (2014). The special was filmed at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania; Cheyenne Jackson co-hosts and sings "Say Something" as a duet with Evancho. The special includes all of the songs from Awakening, as well as "My Immortal", and two additional songs ("Say Something" and "O Mio Babbino Caro").
Awakening debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart. This was Evancho's fifth consecutive release at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart. Markos Papadatos of Digital Journal gave Evancho's album an A rating, calling it "stunning from start to finish thanks to her warm classical vocals." He called her renditions of the songs "ethereal", "crystalline" and "haunting". On its year-end charts, Billboard ranked Awakening as the No. 11 best-selling Classical Album of 2014, the No. 3 best-selling Classical Album of 2015 and the No. 31 best-selling classical album of 2016. The album remained on the Billboard Classical Albums chart for a consecutive 72 weeks.
Someday at Christmas; Together We Stand
Evancho released her sixth full-length studio album and third holiday collection, Someday at Christmas, on October 28, 2016 on the Sony Masterworks' Portrait label. The album consists of nine previously released tracks, including collaborations with Plácido Domingo, Peter Hollens and Vittorio Grigolo, and three new tracks, "Someday at Christmas" and two versions of "The Little Drummer Boy", one with Il Volo. The title track, "Someday at Christmas", has an anti-war and civil rights theme. It was written by Ron Miller and Bryan Wells and first released as a single by Stevie Wonder in 1966. It reached No. 24 on the Billboard Christmas singles chart that year and then became the title track to Wonder's 1967 album, Someday at Christmas. Evancho's version was produced by Dina Fanai and Heather Holley. The album peaked at No. 93 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart (Evancho's sixth consecutive release to do so) and No. 3 on the Billboard Holiday Albums chart. Someday at Christmas was the No. 27 best-selling classical album of 2016. A review in Cedar Rapids, Iowa's The Gazette called the album "a shimmering showcase for [Evancho's] incredible vocal range and interests. ... [The] duets in this project display her talents for harmonies, as well as tender melodies."
Shortly before the release of the album, Evancho appeared on the cover of, and in an interview inside, the Fall 2016 issue of Inspiring Lives Magazine. Evancho's promotions for the album began with her performance of the title track on the Memphis, Tennessee, morning show Local Memphis Live in November 2016. She also performed some of the songs from the album in her 2016 holiday concerts. In December 2016, Evancho performed "Little Drummer Boy", together with Il Volo, on NBC's Today Show in New York City, and sang the title track on Fox's Good Day Chicago, the America's Got Talent Holiday Spectacular and Harry.
To write arrangements for the new songs on the EP, Fanai brought in Robert Kinkel, known for his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who is also writing arrangements and playing keyboards for Evancho's upcoming album of original songs, which Fanai and Holley are also producing. It is set to be Evancho's first album that includes her own songwriting (other than contributions that she made in 2010 to the lyrics of the title song of Dream With Me) and she expects to release it in the spring of 2017.
On January 20, 2017, the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump, Evancho released a disc, titled Together We Stand, containing three songs: "The Star-Spangled Banner", "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America". At the time of the release, she wrote on her social media: "Through the sale of this music I will be making a donation to charities in support of my sister Juliet." The disc is produced by Nick Patrick, with arrangements by Robin Smith and Nick Patrick, and published on Sony's Portrait label.
Other music performances and philanthropy
2009 to 2011
Evancho performed the American national anthem at various events in 2009 and 2010, including the 2009 memorial ceremony for the victims of United Flight 93, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team's 2010 home opener, and the 2011 NHL Winter Classic. In 2011, she performed Nella Fantasia at the Beverly Hills Chefs for Seals event in support of efforts to end the annual Canadian seal hunt and became an ambassador for Mission: Humane, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that encourages children to help protect animals. In February 2011, she performed her first full-length concert as a headliner, in Houston, Texas, with the Houston Chamber Choir. She next sang at the 2011 Festival of the Arts Boca, along with young stars of the Metropolitan Opera. Evancho also sang at Muhammad Ali's 2011 "Celebrity Fight Night" charity event to battle Parkinson's Disease, in Phoenix, Arizona. She performed the introduction to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on Oprah's farewell special broadcast in May 2011.
Together with Tony Bennett, Evancho recorded the song "When You Wish upon a Star", which appears as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of his 2011 album Duets II, and she lent her voice to a 2011 "happy birthday" tribute to Bennett by Target. She sings "Pie Jesu" on the 2011 album Hit Man Returns: David Foster & Friends (2011). PBS broadcast the concert, including Evancho's "Pie Jesu" and "O Mio Babbino Caro". Her recording of "Silent Night" is included in the 2011 Sony album 30 Stars of Christmas. She sang in two David Foster & Friends concerts in October 2011, in Tokyo, and appeared in several Japanese television interviews and performances.
2012 to 2013
Evancho returned to Japan to participate in the newly reopened Bunkamura Orchard Concert Hall program "Musical meets Symphony", and to give her own concert there with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in January 2012. While there, she sang for the Imperial family. In February 2012, Evancho sang at the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast before President Obama and congressional and international leaders. In April, Evancho appeared on Dancing with the Stars, singing "Ave Maria" and "Dark Waltz" to accompany two dance teams. She performed as a guest star on the 2012 season finale of Canada's Got Talent. In June, she sang in Russia at the opening ceremonies of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, together with Dmitry Hvorostovsky and Sumi Jo.
Evancho sang in the 2012 So The World May Hear Gala to benefit the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which supplies hearing aids to people in need. In August, She sang in Hiroshima, Japan, in the "Peace for World" concert and performed together with Tony Bennett at the Ironstone Amphitheatre in Murphys, California. In October, she performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the opening of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas. Evancho partnered with WhyHunger, philosophy.com and Sephora to offer a bath product, to believe, inspired by the lyrics of her song "To Believe". All net proceeds from the product supported WhyHunger's efforts to end world hunger.
Evancho participated with over 200 Cirque du Soleil performers and others at Bellagio in Las Vegas in the 2013 event "One Night for One Drop on World Water Day", to benefit the One Drop Foundation's worldwide clean water access and education programs. Robin Leach wrote: "12-year-old superstar singer Jackie [Evancho] stole the night with her "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sung barefoot in the water of the giant stage alone except for the background pianist. She also dominated the fantastic finale flying in as an angel on a harness from the theater rooftop." In April 2013, she sang in concert in Taiwan with José Carreras. She performed another concert with Tony Bennett in May, in Alpharetta, Georgia, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Bennett quipped: "How the heck am I going to follow that?" Evancho was a featured performer in the 2013 broadcast of A Capitol Fourth, singing the national anthem and '"Can You Feel the Love Tonight", from her album Songs from the Silver Screen.
Evancho headlined a benefit concert, called Jackie Evancho & Friends: We are Hope, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City in late 2013, for the Muzart World Foundation's programs to encourage the teaching of music and art in U.S. public schools. She sang the U.S. national anthem on Thanksgiving Day, at the Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions football game, broadcast on Fox. She headlined a Christmas-themed benefit concert at Carnegie Hall produced by her old mentor, Tim Janis, and featuring James Galway, in December.
2014 to present
In early 2014, Evancho was the performer for Susan G. Komen's Perfect Pink Party in Palm Beach, Florida, to benefit breast cancer research. She then headlined a concert with the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, to benefit the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. She appeared in the 2014 gala to benefit Chicago's WTTW television and WFMT radio stations and in the 2014 National Memorial Day Concert, broadcast by PBS. Evancho performed at the Songwriters Hall of Fame 2014 awards dinner singing "Over the Rainbow". In September 2014, she performed at a David Foster Foundation concert to benefit families with children who need a major organ transplant. In November, she sang a "touching rendition" of John Lennon's song "Imagine" at the United Nations to introduce the UNICEF #Imagine program. Also in 2014, Evancho recorded the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" with Peter Hollens for his self-titled album, and the two released a video for the song. A reviewer for Mashable called it "a gift from the a cappella gods".
In 2015, Evancho made a video to support the Humane Society's fight against seal hunting. She also joined Andrea Bocelli as a guest in his concert in Thailand. A review in The Nation commented: "If there's anything on Earth close to the sound of an angel, it must be the heavenly voice of Jackie Evancho". In August, she participated in a "David Foster and Friends" concert in Malaysia and released a video, covering Ed Sheeran's "All of the Stars", that tells a story supporting acceptance of LGBT people. In September, Evancho participated in another benefit, with Foster and Bocelli in Forte dei Marmi, Italy, for the Celebrity Fight Night Foundation. The same month, she performed at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia as part of the celebration of Pope Francis's visit to that city. In October 2015, Evancho performed at a benefit for the Global Lyme Alliance in New York City. In December, she sang the U.S. national anthem at the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Indianapolis Colts and released the first single on her own JE Touring label, a cover of Taylor Swift's "Safe & Sound", together with a video.
In January 2016, Evancho appeared at the Mending Broken Hearts With Hope luncheon to benefit The Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Naples, Florida. She then released a single and video covering of Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall" and another single and video covering, Skylar Grey's "Coming Home (Part II)". In April, Evancho sang the national anthem at the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2016 opening home game. She also released an original pop song by Peter Zizzo, "Apocalypse". Billboard wrote that she "has found a brand-new sound. The 16-year-old singer ... is taking a step outside the classical world that made her famous"; but Evancho told Billboard: "I'm not going to get rid of my classical voice, because that's my roots, that's what I love the most." She also released a video of the song and performed it on the Today show and Live! with Kelly and Michael. A reviewer for The New Yorker, however, found the track "cloying", writing that Evancho "sounds unremarkable outside her genre."
Evancho provided the entertainment at the 2016 Project Sunshine benefit gala and returned to Washington, DC, to participate in the 2016 broadcast and live performance of A Capitol Fourth. She headlined a concert at Festa Italiana at the BMO Harris Pavilion in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, later in July 2016. In September, Evancho sang at the David Foster Foundation's 2016 fundraiser at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to help pay for pediatric organ transplants and support the patients' families. Evancho began a new concert tour in late 2016. She also performed at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame 2016 induction ceremony in November 2016. She is set to participate in AGT's first Christmas special.
Evancho sang the U.S. national anthem at the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017. Evancho has stated that her decision to perform was apolitical, but it drew considerable comment on social media and in the press, "from both sides of the political spectrum".
Acting and modeling
Evancho had some early theatre experience performing in High School Musical with Pittsburgh Musical Theater in 2007 and musical theatre versions of A Christmas Carol and Little Red Riding Hood, in which she played the title role in 2009. She also appeared as an extra in the 2010 film She's Out of My League. Her first featured television appearance was in the 2011 episode "Back to Max", in the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place, where she sang "America the Beautiful" to work off school detention.
Evancho appeared in the feature film The Company You Keep, a 2013 political thriller. She played Isabel, the eleven-year-old daughter of a widowed attorney turned fugitive, Jim Grant, played by Robert Redford, who also directed the film. When Grant's true identity as a former Weather Underground militant is uncovered, he is pursued across the U.S. by the FBI and by an ambitious journalist (Shia LaBeouf). To be reunited with Isabel, Grant must clear his name. Jon Weisman wrote that Evancho "showed she's more than a singing prodigy with her earnest sweetness". Redford cast Evancho only days before filming began. Evancho said in 2012: "I don't think I want to act full time. I think I might like to do something with a Disney special or make a movie once in a while that would give me enough time to sing and record, but that's about it."
Evancho modelled for GUESS Kids in 2012 and for Justice Girls Clothing in 2014, and she occasionally has appeared in other product advertisements and public service announcements.
Reception and reputation
In 2010, America's Got Talent, judge Piers Morgan said: "I have never seen an act, on this show or the British show or any of the other talent shows in the world, with more potential than Jackie Evancho. ["Ave Maria"] was perfection. Perfection!" Christopher Hahn, General Director of the Pittsburgh Opera, observed: "It's very unusual for a young child to have a voice that sounded so rich and developed." "I thought she was just lovely, sweetly compelling". Hahn particularly praised Evancho's phrasing. Composer Tim Janis commented that Evancho "takes a classical piece and makes it friendly and accessible. ... Her voice is so pure and natural, there's no flaw in it. People say 'I can hear her potential coming,' but no, it's here, it's now." Claudia Benack, Assistant Professor of musical theatre at Carnegie Mellon University, said that Evancho "has an unusually adult feel for the repertoire. ... She sings to the important part of the phrase, and then backs off. That's instinctual. ... She takes breaths sometimes where an adult would not, but that's just because she's young and little. ... She sings from the healthy part of her voice." Jia Tolentino of The New Yorker later called Evancho's YouTube audition for AGT "supernaturally blissful", and commented that she delivered "O mio babbino caro" with "graceful phrasing, a controlled, slow vibrato, and a tone that resonates impersonally, like a bell." Critic Tim Page, however, wrote that Evancho "has many years of work ahead of her before she becomes any sort of musician." Doctor Clark Rosen, director of the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center, noted that Evancho's talent is made possible by how her brain coordinates her body for singing.
Andrew Druckenbrod, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reviewing Evancho's 2011 Pittsburgh Opera concert, stated that "what was most impressive ... was how musical she was ... her focus on phrasing and an understanding of the emotion in the ... musical numbers." The review also praised "her reverberant chest voice [and] her head voice, hitting the highest register with intonation and purity" and echoed Janis: "That she continues to be greeted with skepticism is unfair. ... Yes, the concert showed that Jackie is a young girl, yet one with artistry to be appreciated now without debating about what her future might hold." Antony Walker, Pittsburgh Opera's music director, said: "she has a very sincere way of singing. ... Her voice has a lovely quality to it. It's very simple singing but it comes from the heart. You rarely hear someone so young with such a beautiful voice". Nekesa Mumbi Moody, writing for Associated Press, commented that, although "there is a youthful quality in Jackie's voice, it's hardly childlike: It's a soprano that deftly traverses the musical scales". Mark Kanny, in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, called her voice "beautifully in tune and well supported. ... Evancho's sincerity of delivery was affecting".
Bob Boilen of NPR wrote, "I simply couldn't believe my eyes and ears. Seeing Jackie Evancho sing for the first time is nearly beyond belief." He called her voice "beyond-beautiful" when she performed "for a stunned audience at the NPR Music offices. She clearly is a very happy girl with an amazing musical gift." A review of her 2011 Sun Valley concert stated that "Evancho transported [her audience] with pure, joyous, unaffected notes". Marcia Adair of the Los Angeles Times commented in reviewing Dream With Me that "her voice has matured quite a lot over the past 10 months. ... [W]hat makes us feel like she will survive the journey from child star to adult performer is her magnificent sense of pitch, her natural ability to shape phrases and the ease with which she performs." Jon Caramanica, in The New York Times, reviewed her Avery Fisher Hall concert: "In the first half of the show Ms. Evancho often receded, but toward the end of the night she found purpose, delivering 'A Time for Us' with punch, and closing out Sarah McLachlan's 'Angel' with what felt like real yearning". The Wall Street Journal called Evancho's 2011 performance of the song "Angel" on the Tonight Show "moving".
2012 and later
A San Francisco Chronicle review of a 2012 concert judged her singing "an impressive thing to witness, and Evancho's technical precision and enormous range only serve to make it seem less fluky", but felt that "every selection sounded alike". A reviewer for The Denver Post wrote that Evancho "displayed her famous combo of poise and articulation", but he noted "the burden of being a kid soprano, a true phenomenon. People pay a lot to see you and orchestras line up to get you on their stage. But still folks wonder if you really comprehend your life; if you shouldn't be home ... eating ice cream. ... And yet they rise to their feet, yet again, as you finish." A Naples Daily News review stated: "Her poise. Her control. Her range. ... Her voice and her performance exhausted all of the superlatives in the dictionary." In 2013, an Atlanta reviewer commented: "Her pure and well-formed vowel sounds touched the hearts of everyone at the concert." A review in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called Evancho "awesomely talented" and "technically flawless". The Buffalo News reviewer wrote: "there is a poignancy to the sound of this mature voice coming out of this child. Her high notes are a joy."
In 2014, Chis Payne commented for Billboard magazine: "Evancho's stratospheric vocals are of course impressive for someone her age, though pipes like this are incredible for just about anyone." in 2015, the reviewer for Digital Journal wrote: "The control she displays over her voice is tremendous, and she tackles the high notes ... effortlessly, showcasing her angelic vocals and piercing pipes." Robin Leach wrote of Evancho's 2015 concert in Las Vegas: "She's still got the voice of an angel. It's remarkable, and her power is growing as she grows up. [She] had the audience on its feet with wild applause at the end of every song". Some reviewers, beginning in 2015, noticed a lack of connection with the text; a review in The Washington Post called her voice a "bell-like instrument, devoid of any messy human emotions [with] an ethereally floating tone. ... But imagine what Evancho can achieve once she stops obsessing over just sounding pretty, and actually listens to the words she's singing." Reviewing a 2016 concert, Steve Barnes similarly wrote for the Times Union that her voice is "an instrument of pristine beauty. It peals with the purity of bells and lofts tones that shimmer with celestial iridescence" but that her performance lacks "an apparent interpretive style or emotional connection to the material".
A chapter in the 2016 book, Voicing Girlhood in Popular Music: Performance, Authority, Authenticity, by Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, Assistant Professor of Music at Georgia College, is devoted to analyzing Evancho's career and influence. Gorzelany-Mostak writes:
Despite her commercial success, a vocal cadre of critics, journalists, and bloggers have not always been kind to Jackie Evancho. Classical crossover's excessive sentimentality and reliance on [spectacle] often provoke the disdain of critics from the worlds of both popular music and opera, but perhaps the vitriol has just as much to do with the singer's age and gender. Young girls frequently become the scrutinized objects of the public's gaze. ... [T]he cluster of behaviors customarily defined as "girlish" are frequently devalued, mocked, and marginalized. ... Throughout history prodigies have been received in a similar manner, as the public would rather dismiss or devalue their accomplishments than accept evidence of extraordinariness. ... With her embodiment of both sheltered innocence ... and hyperability ... [Evancho] expands the fan base for classical crossover, dethrones elitist conceptions of opera, challenges conventions of the classical canon, and forges a new path for the next cohort of girl performers who have the courage to follow in her footsteps.
Evancho appeared on the National League of Junior Cotillions' list of "Ten Best-Mannered People of 2011" for "demonstrating humility and politeness as a young performer." She was honored in 2012 by the Senator John Heinz History Center at its 20th Annual History Makers Award Dinner as one of five "distinguished Pittsburghers ... recognized for their exceptional contributions to the history of Western Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world". Evancho was the youngest person ever to be so honored. The Kean Quest Talent Search, since 2011, has given an annual "Jackie Evancho Award" to a contestant who "exemplifies courage and motivation and pushes through to follow their dreams." In both 2011 and 2012, Billboard magazine named Evancho to its list of "21 Under 21: Music's Hottest Minors".