You know her by now. The surprising runner-up on “America’s Got Talent”. The ten-year-old girl with the voice of an angel who sings well beyond her tender years. Now, she is touring with AGT, putting out her second CD, signing a major recording contract and appearing on “The Tonight Show” and “Oprah”.
Jackie … you have come a long way.
A long way from our first meeting last December. Then, she was a talented 9-year-old girl who was performing at charity events and doing concerts in smaller venues and her first CD was just beginning to get attention. When we sat down for our first interview last winter, Jackie was a little girl who acted and spoke like a 9-year-old. Her parents, proud of her accomplishments and just trying to balance their emerging star in a family of four children.
Meeting Jackie Evancho for first time as emcee of Variety Gala in November 2009
When I sat down with Mike Evancho and her daughter Monday, some ten months since we last talked, you could tell they had been transformed. Mike called the whirlwind of activity “overwhelming”. Jackie spoke of life changing little, but acknowledging the sadness of not being able to see family as much as she had. She still had the innocent look of a fifth grader, but in her eyes you could see she had experienced a lot of growing up in a short period of time.
I can’t imagine how Mike and Lisa Evancho are able to manage Jackie’s endeavors with the desire to allow her to grow up and be a little kid. They admit her success has changed their lives. Jackie’s on the road quite a bit and everyone, it seems, want her to come and sing . She was just in las Vegas last weekend. They tell me they try to protect her from the painful side of fame and fortune. The problems that have sent many young stars into a downward spiral.
I spent the evening with Jackie and her two brothers and her sister Rachel. The littlest Evancho, Rachel wears a very stylish fedora and loves to give out hugs. In fact, she wouldn’t let me leave without giving out several hugs. We did our interviews at Jackie’s grandparents house … where she is one of 12 grandchildren. Talk about having your hands full.
Jackie on her way to “The Tonight Show” in Los Angeles
One of the things I love is seeing young people who I have covered over the years grow into stars on the national stage. From McKeesport basketball player Swin Cash … to North Hills football sensation LeVar Arrington, it was a joy to watch them grow and be there as they went from local star to national superstar. Jackie is already there.
I hope as she grows into the singer she dreams of being, she will always be that sweet young girl I have gotten to know. The one who smiles and laughs … and knows just what to say. I hope she will continue to wow audiences with her voice the way she wowed me the first time I saw her last November. Most of all, I hope she continues to bring joy to her fans with, as she calls it, “her gift from God”.