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Arts & Entertainment

Young Richland singer Evancho steals show on 'America's Got Talent'

| Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010

Jackie Evancho's popularity has soared almost as high as her voice.

The 10-year-old Richland singer was one of the most searched people on Google on Wednesday after her performance the previous night on NBC's "America's Got Talent" brought a standing ovation from the studio audience and nationwide acclaim.

After the performance, she ran into her mother's arms, crying. They returned to their hotel room to watch a repeat performance on television, she said, and were amazed by the crowd's reaction.

"I'm really proud of myself," Jackie said. "I finished with a great applause. ... I wanted everything to be perfect, and I wanted the judges to like me."

Internet sites and newspapers from USA Today to The Wall Street Journal proclaimed Jackie's arrival on the national stage. A YouTube audition video that Jackie submitted to the TV show neared 1 million views yesterday, and more than 11,000 people watched a clip of her Tuesday performance in Hollywood.

"There were a lot of goose bumps and tears," Mike Evancho, 40, said about watching his daughter's rendition of Giacomo Puccini's aria "O Mio Babbino Caro." "I never heard her like that before. She looked so comfortable."

On Facebook, people posted supportive comments by the minute, more than 2,000 of them indicating they "like" Jackie Evancho, according to her fan page.

Her 2009 album "Prelude to a Dream" moved from about No. 130,000 in sales on to No. 45, making her the top "Mover & Shaker" in the website's music category.

Jackie earned a chance to compete on "America's Got Talent" after YouTube viewers selected her from about 20,000 submissions.

She learned during a results show last night that she was one of four of the 12 acts from Tuesday's show to advance to the 24 semifinalists competing for $1 million and a Las Vegas contract.

"It feels so amazing, especially when America picked me to follow my dream," Jackie said on the show.

She then sang a few notes to show that her performance Tuesday was not prerecorded.

"Me and her mom didn't care if she moved forward or if it stopped tonight," Mike Evancho said. "We just wanted her to perform well, and she did."

"I thought it was spellbinding," Christopher Hahn, general director of the Pittsburgh Opera, said about Jackie's performance. "It's very unusual for a young child to have a voice that sounded so rich and developed."

"O Mio Babbino Caro" is "one of the most gorgeous operatic melodies," said Hahn, who watched Jackie's performance after a friend texted him. "The combination of her innocence and promise with this very, very pretty voice and the song itself had an enormous effect on the audience."

More than 20 friends and Evancho family members gathered at the North Hills home of Jackie's grandmother to watch the show. Minutes after it ended, they frantically cast votes in between answering phone calls and text messages.

"I am so proud of our granddaughter," said Linda Evancho, 63. "Words just can't express."

Jackie is no stranger to the spotlight.

She performed in the 17,000-seat Prudential Center in New Jersey last year as part of the David Foster & Friends Concert Tour. Foster is a 19-time Grammy Award winning producer who worked with Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. Jackie sang the national anthem at the Pittsburgh Pirates' home opener in April and is scheduled to perform at famed Carnegie Hall in New York City in December. She had twice auditioned for "America's Got Talent."

Etta Cox, a jazz singer and instructor at the Creative and Performing Arts High School, Downtown, said she was wowed.

"Her voice just doesn't fit her body," Cox said. "I've never heard a voice like that in a 10-year-old, and I've been teaching voice for many years. The maturity of her voice is incredible for someone her age."

Additional Information:

Claims to fame

Jackie Evancho, 10, of Richland grabbed headlines nationwide with her performance on 'America's Got Talent.' A sampling:

• 'Tiny angel with a mature voice' -- The Wall Street Journal

• 'Move over Susan Boyle, here comes Jackie Evancho' • The Baltimore Sun

• 'Jackie Evancho, 10, wows with opera voice' • The Los Angeles Times

• 'Opera singer, 10, has 'Susan Boyle moment' on 'America's Got Talent'' • People magazine

• 'Jackie Evancho on 'America's Got Talent': 10-year-old singer stuns audience with booming voice' • New York Daily News

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