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Jackie Evancho is in the news and on the stage

| Thursday, March 2, 2017, 8:55 p.m.
Jackie Evancho
Jackie Evancho
Jackie Evancho
Jackie Evancho

Richland's Jackie Evancho is still waiting to hear whether she'll get a meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss transgender issues, but in the meantime she's not sitting still.

Evancho is touring ahead of the March 31 release of her new classical-crossover studio album on the Sony Masterworks label, “Two Hearts,” and she'll be at Pittsburgh's Benedum Center on March 5.

The 16-year-old classically trained vocalist started the new year on a high note, braving cold weather and criticism to sing the national anthem at the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan. 20 at the U.S. Capitol.

Looking back on her unforgettable experience of performing in Washington, D.C., before thousands of spectators and millions of TV viewers, she recalls, “It was freezing and I was sick. I had lost my voice two days before that. I knew there were a lot of critical eyes on me, but it was a huge honor to do it. I was extremely nervous, but more so excited. It all worked out.”

Since then, Evancho, who has a transgender sister, has expressed her disappointment with Trump over his administration's order lifting some protections transgender student rights. She asked in a Tweet to meet with the president to discuss the issue.

Through all the non-music news she's been making, Evancho has continued to perform and record. She says the new album is special, she says, because for the first time she had a hand in writing lyrics and melody for a few of the pop songs on the album.

She plans to preview some selections from her new album on her current tour. Evancho has performed in Pittsburgh several times since coming in second place on NBC's “America's Got Talent” in 2010, when she was 10. The last concert she gave here was in 2015, with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She also has sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” before two Pittsburgh Pirates games at PNC Park, on opening days in 2010 and 2016.

Evancho had an opportunity to spend some time at home recently following back-to-back concerts in Coral Springs, Ft. Myers and Sarasota, Fla. After her Pittsburgh engagement, she'll head west for two shows in Seattle and more concerts to follow.

She formerly attended Pine-Richland High School but says she is now enrolled in online schooling due to her increasing recording and performance workload.

“My schedule was picking up and it was a better decision,” she says.

She wants to go to college after she graduates from high school next year and would like to study criminal psychology.

Evancho says she is looking forward to spending some time at home this summer, “just relaxing with my family, chilling in the backyard.”

The teen's musical accolades include being the youngest solo platinum artist, youngest top 5 debut artist in history in Great Britain, and youngest artist to give a solo concert at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Since 2009, she has recorded six albums, including a platinum and gold album and three Billboard 200 top 10 debuts. She was named to Billboard magazine's list of “music movers-and shakers under the age of 21” in 2010 and 2012.

Her appearance at this year's inauguration was not her first presidential performance: During President Obama's term of office, she sang at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., and at a National Prayer Breakfast two months later.

“I've actually made it a goal of mine to perform for as many presidents as possible,” she says.

Evancho's high-profile appearances also include representing the United States in 2012, performing before the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in Russia along with opera stars Dmitri Hvorostovsky of Russia and Sumi Jo of Korea. In Japan, she was invited to perform for the royal family at the Imperial Palace and toured with the Tokyo Philharmonic.

The soprano has recorded duets with Tony Bennett, Susan Boyle, Il Volo, Placido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Chris Botti, The Tenors and Joshua Bell.

She made her film acting debut as Robert Redford's daughter in the 2013 movie, “The Company You Keep,” which also starred Susan Sarandon, Shia LaBeouf, Anna Kendrick, Terrance Howard, Nick Nolte and Stanley Tucci.

“I also did some acting for Pittsburgh Musical Theater (in 2007) and appeared on TV in ‘Wizards of Waverly Place' (on the Disney Channel) in 2011,” she says.

She was invited to perform in Philadelphia during Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. in September 2015, where she sang the classic “Ave Maria,” which has become one of her signature songs.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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