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Jackie Evancho talks about school, music, life as a star

When Jackie Evancho steps on to the stage at the Benedum Center, Downtown, on Sunday night, she'll be the star of the Pittsburgh Opera concert. The 11-year-old from Richland Township knows an opportunity is what you make of it.

She was 10 when she was the runner-up on NBC's "America's Got Talent" in 2010. Since then, she's been signed to record for Sony, performed with Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett and symphony orchestras, and appeared on major televisions shows. Her Sunday show has been sold out for several weeks.

Jackie, who sang with the Children's Festival Chorus in 2008-09, is an ambassador for the Humane Society of the United States. She has just signed to appear in the upcoming film "The Company You Keep" as the daughter of Robert Redford's character.

Her Pittsburgh Opera program includes numbers such as "All I Ask of You," When You Wish Upon a Star," "The Lord's Prayer" and "O mio babbino caro" from her new album "Dream With Me."

She took time to answer some questions via e-mail before Sunday's performance.

Question: With the success you've had, what's your life like• Do you have sleepovers• Where do you spend time with friends• What things do you and your friends like to do?

Answer: Are you kidding -- of course, I do -- sleepovers are one of my favorite things! When I am home, my life really hasn't changed that much -- I play with my brothers and sister and my friends. We play in the yard, on the trampoline, swimming and, of course, with the pets :-/ I'm into sewing and writing a lot these days.

Q: What school do you attend or are you home schooled• How many hours a day on music• Any sports or other regular activities?

A: I'm cyber schooled. I don't spend time on music every day -- a few times a week maybe. There isn't a particular sport I'm into -- but playing is high on my activities!

Q: What's your earliest memory of singing?

A: Coming home from the movie "Phantom of the Opera" and singing the song around the house. That's how it all started! It was a week before my 8th birthday.

Q: How do you decide what you want to sing• How do you find the material?

A: The songs come from many places -- from my producers, record company, management team and even my family who have a keen ear for music. We all get together and listen to all the songs we've collected. We then start recording!"

Q: What qualities do you look for in lyrics• In the music?

A: It just needs to touch me -- pure and simple. Of course, it needs to fit my voice, and I need to feel the lyric."

Q: With whom do you work musically• Teachers, parents?

A: My mom is my main teacher, but I also have two other professional teachers who give me sporadic lessons. But on a daily basis, it's my mom -- she's a very good teacher.

Q: Do you still play piano and violin?

A: Yes, I love to play both!

Q: What are your favorite CDs?

A: I love lots of songs -- from Lady Gaga, Beyonce to Sarah Brightman and Josh Groban!

Q: For one of her parents: When did you realize that you had a seriously "musical kid" on your hands?

A: When Sony signed her to a contract.

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