(Updates with returning to public school in paragraph 22)
By David Adams
MIAMI Jan 10 Three years after a popular TV
talent show launched child soprano Jackie Evancho on a meteoric
career, she still has no singing coach, can't read music and
sticks to a modest rehearsal routine.
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
"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
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
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 Jan 18.
"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
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 songs."
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)