The 15-year-old singing sensation joins the Nashville Symphony on Wednesday, June 17 for a night of classical and pop selections. Jackie Evancho’s life changed forever when she was 8 years old. Her parents took her to see Phantom of the Opera, and the beloved Andrew Lloyd Webber musical became a pillar of inspiration. Blessed with a phenomenal voice — especially at such a young age — Evancho soon became a YouTube sensation attracting the likes of composers like David Foster.
Evancho’s following grew by leaps and bounds in 2010 when she was a 10-year-old contestant on the fifth season of America’s Got Talent, finishing the competition in second place.
Since then, she’s released four studio albums, a live CD/DVD (Dream with Me in Concert) and last year enjoyed her own PBS special, Awakening: Live in Concert. She’s sold more than 3 million albums so far, and her achievements are impressive. She’s the youngest Top-10 debut artist in U.S. history, and the youngest solo artist to go platinum in the United States. Add to that her recent big screen debut in Robert Redord’s The Company You Keep.
Not too shabby of a resume for the now 15-year-old young lady who shows no signs of letting success at a young age go to her head.
The Nashville audience gets to experience the classical crossover singer live in concert with the Nashville Symphony on Wednesday, June 17 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Evancho promises a wide range of material including classic arias to pop/rock favorites, show tunes and songs from the silver screen.
Nashville Parent caught up with Evancho for a phone interview recently to talk about her inspiration, life and her upcoming performance in Nashville.
What was it about Phantom of the Opera that inspired you so much when you were 8 years old?
I honestly believe that why I love Phantom so much is the passion and songs and the way the characters interact with each other. The love story really captured my attention … being a young girl and always hoping for love.
America’s Got Talent was a huge leap into starting your journey as a performer. What was it like being on the show when you were 10, and did it make you nervous to sing in front of millions of people?
I don’t think singing in front of millions of people is what made me nervous. What made me nervous was just singing in front of anyone in general, but I obviously grew to get used to that.
It was so much fun being on that TV show because it was like making a new family and having new friends. No one was jealous of each other or worried about each other. We were just great friends.
How do you overcome stage fright?
I usually get a bit nervous before I sing. It’s definitely easier to do since America’s Got Talent. It’s very fun to sing in front of people. I usually just say a prayer before I go on stage, warm up, drink a lot of water and tea, and that’s really it.
You have a lot of impressive achievements like being the youngest Top 10 debut artist in U.S. history and the youngest solo artist to have a platinum album. You’ve sold more than 3 million records, performed in front of the President of the United States and did a duet with Barbra Streisand. What does that kind of success do to you at a young age?
It doesn’t affect me as a person. It makes me a bit more proud of myself because I know that not just anybody can make those achievements. I’m not saying that I’m special, but I’m saying that I worked hard to get there and I’m proud of myself for it.
What music do you enjoy listening to?
I listen to everything, and usually the music I listen to depends on my mood. It can be a band like Royal Blood to classical pieces like “Moonlight Sonata.”
What’s a typical day like for you?
My average day consists of waking up at 6, going to school, coming home and having an occasional interview or conference call or maybe stopping into the recording studio, but it’s pretty normal compared to what I expected when I was younger.
How do you maintain a sense of normality? Do you have to pitch in and do chores with your brothers and sister?
My parents have been cracking down on the rules, so I can’t go anywhere unless I’ve done at least one thing around the house. That’s a little irritating! (laughs)
I didn’t expect to get any special treatment, and I’m really glad that I didn’t because I feel that if I had I might be a bit more full of myself. Although I don’t really think I’d fall victim to becoming a diva because of fame, I still worry that it might be out of my control.
Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
I like to sew, and I like to draw and write books and songs — anything I can really think of. I play some piano (self-taught) and violin (mostly self taught). I love just socializing with my friends.
Nashville’s looking forward to seeing you perform with our award-winning Nashville Symphony on June 17. What can we expect in regard to your song selections?
It’s going to be a mix of songs from all of my albums except for the Christmas ones. I don’t think there’s a specific genre that I prefer to do more than another. I just like to sing the songs that I sing. I choose the songs I sing because they have a specific sound or quality to them that I just enjoy. I tend to steer clear of songs that I am even a little iffy about. I just prefer to love the songs that I sing.
Is there anything in particular you hope to see or experience while you’re in Nashville?
I’ve been to Nashville once a long, long time ago. Hopefully I can do some site seeing and shopping, because I LOVE shopping! I don’t know specifically what I want to look at because I know there’s so many things to see in Nashville, and I can hardly begin to imagine. I’m just looking forward to a fun experience in Nashville!