06 Dec

Jackie Evancho in HD “O Holy Night” at the National Christmas Tree Lighting

Early life


Evancho was born to Lisa (née Brand) and Michael Evancho (b. 1969), who married in 1997.[2] Her father operated a video security business until Evancho’s singing and recording career required her parents’ full-time attention.[3] She has an older brother Jacob,[4] a younger brother Zachary, and a younger sister Rachel.[3] She was raised Catholic, attended Eden Hall Upper Elementary School,[5] and resides in Richland Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her family and numerous pets, including dogs, cats, ducks, frogs, guinea pigs and others.[6][7][8] In addition to singing, Evancho plays the violin and piano and sews.[3]

Although Evancho’s parents thought she had a nice voice, they did not recognize that it was unusual until her first talent competition.[9][10] Her dedicated singing began just before her 8th birthday,[11] after she saw the film version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera. Her mother purchased the DVD, and Evancho began to sing the songs around the family home.[12] That April, her mother allowed her to enter the 2008 Kean Idol, a local talent contest.[13] She sang “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom, finishing as first runner-up;[14][15] the winner was 20 years old. She began taking vocal lessons after her success in the 2008 Kean Idol contest, and her parents began receiving requests for her to sing at various events.[16][17] She was also a member of the Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh during its 2008–09 season.[14] Evancho began travelling around the country to sing in talent contests and started a YouTube channel. She entered the 2009 Kean Idol contest and was again runner-up to an adult.[13][a]

In January 2009, Evancho competed in Las Vegas in the 15th annual U.S.A. World Showcase Talent Competition, in which the winner was to receive $100,000 and the chance to create a demo CD. She sang “Ave Maria”, “River of Dreams” and “O Mio Babbino Caro”.[14] Subsequently, she entered other talent contests, winning the Golden Ribby Award – WonderworldTV in April 2009[18] and the Talent Quest TV Show in June 2009 (both in Massachusetts).[19][20] Also in 2009, she sang “Ave Maria” in Tim Janis‘s PBS television special “Celebrate America”[21][22] and performed in other concerts and TV shows with Janis,[5][17] who sought her out after seeing her on YouTube.[23] She also made various singing appearances around Pennsylvania in 2009 and 2010.[24][25]


[edit] David Foster and Prelude to a Dream

Evancho first caught record producer David Foster‘s attention in 2009.[13][10] After sending a video, she was selected for the regional semifinals of his “Hitman Talent Search Contest”, and in October 2009 she sang in the “David Foster & Friends” concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.[26][27][28]

In November 2009, Evancho released her independent debut album called Prelude to a Dream.[29][30] The album featured mainly covers of songs such as Andrea Bocelli‘s “Con te partirò” and “The Prayer“, Josh Groban‘s “To Where You Are” and Martina McBride‘s “Concrete Angel“, and also included a rendition of “Amazing Grace“, among other selections. It debuted in August 2010 on the Billboard 200 at #121 and at #2 on iTunes and the Billboard Classical Albums Chart.[31] Evancho’s parents withdrew the album in September 2010, citing Evancho’s vocal progress since its release.[32] Since Evancho’s success on America’s Got Talent, the album has become a collector’s item; copies of the CD have received winning bids of over $1,500 on eBay auctions.[33]

[edit] America’s Got Talent

Evancho was accepted as a contestant on the fifth season of the America’s Got Talent TV show by placing first in a YouTube competition sponsored by the television show. On August 10, 2010,[34] Evancho performed “O mio babbino caro” by Giacomo Puccini.[35] She received a standing ovation after her performance, and she was awarded a trip to Universal Studios Florida for receiving the most fan votes from the submissions to the show from YouTube.[36] After Evancho’s performance, astonished commentators queried whether her performance had been lip-synched.[37][38] On the next evening’s live show, one of the judges, Howie Mandel, requested that Evancho sing an impromptu voice exercise as proof that the broadcast heard by the audience was Evancho’s live voice.[37]

Her semifinal performance was Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman‘s “Time To Say Goodbye“.[39] She advanced to the Top 10, where on September 7, 2010, she performed “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Requiem and was voted into the Final 4.[40] Her final competition performance was her rendition of Gounod’sAve Maria” on September 14. On September 15, the season finale, Evancho performed “Time To Say Goodbye” with Sarah Brightman;[41] then Evancho was announced as the runner-up, finishing second to Michael Grimm.[42] Many viewers and commentators felt that Evancho should have won,[43] and the result was parodied on the TV series Family Guy.[44] Even Grimm expressed surprise.[45] Evancho performed in 10 of the 25 cities in the America’s Got Talent national tour from October 1 to November 5, 2010.[46][47] During the AGT competition, Evancho began to coach with voice teacher Yvie Burnett, a mezzo-soprano from Scotland, who has worked with many of Simon Cowell‘s acts.[7]

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