By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette — Piers Morgan once commented after one of Jackie Evancho’s performances on “America’s Got Talent,” that “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. That was perfection. Perfection!”
Morgan is not known for heaping such high praise on a performer, much less one that was only 11 years old. No matter what your opinion of Morgan is, just two years later at just 13 years old, young Jackie Evancho’s accomplishments dwarf what most professional singers achieve over a lifetime.
On Friday, Evancho will be performing at Artpark’s main stage. It is a rare opportunity to catch a young singer early in her career. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $75 to $55.
It’s also your chance to see a performer with a platinum and gold selling album who has performed for many dignitaries including the president of the United States and Japan’s royal family. During a recent phone interview I asked Evancho what it was like to meet and perform for world-famous people.
“All of these stars are so much bigger and better than I am and I assumed they would treat me like a bug in the road, nothing that is too important, but they treated me like I was an equal. It was something that really surprised me, I never expected them to treat me like that,” she said.
Part of Evancho’s incredible charm is her humility. In the 15 minutes we spoke, I was struck at how humble and polite she was without even a trace of ego. With all the horror stories out there about young stars that enter adolescence and self-destruct, I asked Evancho if she worried about suffering the same fate.
“I am not worried about it at all because I never want to become someone like that but my family always helps to keep me grounded," she said. "If I try to pull a diva move my parents tell me stop being a diva and I snap right out of it. It is easy to stay grounded because I have seen a lot of people out there act like that and I always think that it is completely ridiculous, you are not better than anyone else in the world and that I would never want to be like that.”
Due to the demands of her career, Evancho chose not to attend traditional school, instead opting to take classes online. While she admitted she misses the social aspect of attending a traditional school, she needed to balance her career and her education.
This type of dedication and work ethic is unusual for people her age, and Evancho is quick to note that it is due to her upbringing.
“My parents really taught me the right way and I am still growing up and still learning so many important things in life. I think it is great that I have the parents that I have because they really keep me grounded and teach me how to be a better person as I grow older.”
As she grows older it will be interesting to see what direction shoe chooses musically. Right now Evancho is a classical crossover singer, a genre where she is comfortable.
As if being a singer wasn’t enough, Evancho has a budding acting career as well, having just appeared in “The Company You Keep” starring and directed by Robert Redford. I asked her if she had ever considered a career as an actor.
“I would love to grow up to be an actor/singer but if I had to choose one or the other, it would always be singing because singing is my natural talent and I will always love singing.”
I suspect that whatever direction she chooses Evancho will excel. She truly has “got talent” and she is quickly proving that she knows how to use it.Thom Jennings covers the local music scene and Artpark for the Gazette.