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Pine-Richland 9-year-old to sing national anthem at Pirates opener

Jackie Evancho, a 9-year-old singer from the North Hills, says she loves getting butterflies before going onstage.

"I know I'm nervous, but I know it's going to do me good," says Jackie, who released a CD, "Prelude to a Dream," in November. "After I get finished with the concert or performance, I just love to hear the crowd roaring at me, and it makes me feel like I'm really special and that I did a really, really good job."

Jackie, a daughter of Lisa and Michael Evancho of Richland, will be singing the national anthem today at PNC Park, for the Pittsburgh Pirates' season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pine-Richland School District fourth-grader, who auditioned for the singing slot, has sung at many places -- including at a memorial service for Flight 93, which crashed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- but this will be her first Pirates game.

"I think it's going to be, like, really exciting," Jackie says. "And I think that it will be a brand-new experience for me, and that it will be fun to do."

Jackie, who has two brothers, Jacob, 11, and Zachary, 7; and a sister, Rachel, 6, has sung for many people at many places. She sang the national anthem in February at a Senate Republican committee meeting in Harrisburg, and she has sung for events hosted by state Sen. Jane Orie, a McCandless Republican. The events included Orie's Senior Fest, and her kickoff of the annual Reach Out and Touch a Hero program, which sends care packages and cards to deployed military members.

Orie says that Pirates fans are in for a treat at the game.

"She has such an incredible voice, and the confidence she has to be able to perform before large audiences at such a young age is amazing," Orie, the majority whip, says in an e-mail. "Jackie has ability and talent well beyond her years. Every time I hear Jackie sing the national anthem or another patriotic song, I am almost brought to tears. It lifts me up and reaffirms my belief in the virtue of people and the United States."

Jackie, who also plays the piano and violin, started singing two years ago, after her parents took her to see the "Phantom of the Opera" movie, and she fell in love with it. Jackie since that time has had many successes, including becoming a finalist in the Hitman Talent Search Contest last year. She also was the first runner-up in the vocal competition of St. Barnabas Charities' Kean Idol competition last year.

Lisa Evancho says that her daughter is embarrassed by her success.

"Jackie is really very unimpressed by her accomplishments and what she's done," Evancho says. "I don't think she really realizes how special her gift is, and the magnitude of the opportunities she's had at such a young age."

"We're so proud of her, and thankful that God gave (Jackie's talent) to her," Evancho says. "There's no doubt that God gave her this gift, and that he wants her to use it."

Jackie has a packed future planned, besides becoming a famous singer.

"I want to be a veterinarian," she says. "I want to walk on the red carpet, want to be one of those people that help the world. I want to help the animals that are in need, seals especially."

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