It was touted as a “Who is the next big star?” lineup on The Oprah Winfrey Show Tuesday this week, and with Susan Boyle opening the performances with a number from her CD The Gift, due out November 9, and already the No. 1 preordered album on Amazon, and tributes to Mariah Carey and a sentimental recollection with Debbie Boone, there was heady company. Just as she did throughout her performances this summer, Jackie Evancho stood out, performing Pie Jesu, again just as she had done in this summer’s performances, flawlessly, except with a touch more hair spray and backed by a full choir rather than a string quartet with a few vocalists. It was when the world’s youngest opera superstar sat down to chat with Oprah that she proved her heart as well as her head was in the right place.
Ms. Winfrey began by saying that she had recently invited Jackie to perform at her home for a group of girls from her South African school who were scouting colleges, and the dazzling youngster had shared words that surprised her, specifically that she knew her voice was a gift from God. “That’s absolutely right,” Jackie reaffirmed to the audience. “I say three prayers every night to make sure HE knows that I know where it comes from,” and at that point, Oprah simply reminded the young star that “God likes appreciation!” to the glowing smile and nods from Jackie.
Jackie’s family insists on keeping her and the family’s life as normal as possible when she’s not center stage. She confessed that adrenaline takes over just as much for her as for more seasoned performers to keep her from nerves. “We have about 28 pets,” she tells, backed by video evidence of obligatory dogs and cats, along with a goose, and a gaggle of other creatures. Wrestling her two brothers, who she also sings with from time to time, and playing with her 4-year-old sister, deemed “the cutest thing” by Ms. Winfrey, does much to keep her normal. “The minute she’s off stage, she’s back to one of my four kids,” insists father Mike. At school, her teacher describes that Jackie “is just what you see-there’s no show.” Her friend, Callie, simply says she likes Jackie because “she’s kind to everyone, and will sit with anyone”. Not a bad recommendation for any 5th grader these days.
When asked about her favorite subject in school, Jackie had not a nanosecond of hesitation before saying writing, and elaborating that she wrote songs, poems, and “stories of all genres”. What artists does she dreams of singing with? She already lived a dream in singing with Sarah Brightman for one of her final America’s Got Talent appearances. She thoughtfully lists Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Charlotte Church, and then gleefully sneaks in “This singer– she’s not really my style of singing, but (Lady) Gaga”! Oprah said she could do the two together for a day. I’m not sure the Lady is quite ready for Ms. Jackie.
Besides performing with the America’s Got Talent Tour, Jackie has a record contract with Columbia/SYCO, and a four-song EP/DVD collection, O Holy Night, set to release November 16. As for school and all that, transitioning back to the real world is easy, “It’s such a normal kid thing to do!” Evancho retorts. Jackie is one special, extraordinary, normal kid!
The Oprah Winfrey Show broadcast, October 19, 2010.