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TLC reality special featuring singer Jackie Evancho, family airs Wednesday

Natasha Lindstrom
| Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, 5:12 p.m.
Jackie Evancho, the Pine Township singing phenom, gets ready for hair and makeup before resuming shooting a video at WPXI's studios in the North Hills, Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Jackie Evancho, the Pine Township singing phenom, gets ready for hair and makeup before resuming shooting a video at WPXI's studios in the North Hills, Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Jackie Evancho
Pittsburgh Symphony
Jackie Evancho
Singer Jackie Evancho
Portrait Records
Singer Jackie Evancho
Pine-Richland transgender seniors Juliet Evancho (left) and Elissa Ridenour spoke at a news conference regarding their lawsuit against the Pine-Richland School District over its controversial bathroom policy on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Cranberry.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland transgender seniors Juliet Evancho (left) and Elissa Ridenour spoke at a news conference regarding their lawsuit against the Pine-Richland School District over its controversial bathroom policy on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Cranberry.
Jackie Evancho, the Pine Township singing phenom, takes a break from shooting a video at WPXI's studios in the North Hills to sit for a portrait, Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Jackie Evancho, the Pine Township singing phenom, takes a break from shooting a video at WPXI's studios in the North Hills to sit for a portrait, Thursday, March 2, 2017.

America first met Pittsburgh's Jackie Evancho as a tiny opera powerhouse.

"Yup, that's me," the blonde-haired little girl reassured the host of "America's Got Talent" as the show's wide-eyed judges gave her a standing ovation during her 2010 breakout performance.

"We suddenly heard this 10-year-old girl sing like a 40-year-old operatic diva," judge Howie Mandel told Buddy­TV . "It was quite extra­ordinary."

Evancho, now 17, has since skyrocketed into international stardom as a classical crossover and pop sensation, earning the title of youngest-ever solo platinum artist . She's sang alongside musical legends including Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli and Tony Bennett, and performed for world leaders such as the Obamas, Japan's Imperial Family, Pope Francis and President Trump .

Her sister, Juliet Evancho, 19, made national headlines for coming out as a transgender young woman a couple of years ago, and again last fall when she joined two fellow transgender students in filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against Pine-Richland School District. Trump has said he would be interested in meeting with the sisters, though that meeting has not yet made the White House calendar .

On Wednesday night, the sisters are starring in "Growing Up Evancho," a one-hour reality TV special debuting on TLC at 10 p.m.

Meet the Evanchos

The Evanchos — pronounced ee-VAYN-ko — are a family of six people who live with their six dogs in Pittsburgh's northern suburb of Richland. Their quiet cul-de-sac is surrounded by manicured lawns, rolling green hills and a nearby creek.

The TV special's producers have quipped that the Evanchos are "like the average American family on steroids."

Jackie and Juliet and their parents, Mike and Lisa Evancho, have told the Trib that despite all the attention and chaos that fame can bring, their family has remained close, supportive and relatively down-to-earth. They spend free time lounging by the pool on sunny afternoons, eating pizza around the kitchen table or hanging out in the downstairs family room, which is filled with a pinball machine, sketch pads, musical instruments and sports equipment. Jackie happens to be pretty good with a bow and arrow.

Jackie and Juliet both say they never intended to be in the political limelight, but they've stirred controversy over Jackie calling out Trump on Twitter, asking him to consider a sit-down meeting with the sisters to better understand the needs of transgender youths.

The TLC program also will feature their siblings, 13-year-old Rachel and 15-year-old Zach, and their parents. The family recently returned from a weeklong vacation in Delaware, an annual tradition.

Mike Evancho also serves as Jackie's agent and tour manager — a setup that her mom, Lisa Evancho, said in the show's teaser trailer can be both helpful and challenging.

The show will touch on how Jackie and Juliet have had their bouts of sibling rivalry, with Juliet striving to find her own path to success as an aspiring fashion model and activist for transgender rights.

Juliet recently graduated from Pine-Richland High School, where she made the homecoming court .

The Pine-Richland School District reached a settlement in favor of Juliet Evancho and two other transgender student plaintiffs last week and agreed to reverse the district's controversial bathroom policy.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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