So far, fans have gotten small tastes of what Jackie Evancho can do, but with the release of Dream With Me her highly anticipated, first full-length album, they will get their first full serving of her staggering talent.
The SYCO/Columbia album reunites the 10-year old singing phenomenon with legendary producer David Foster. Jackie caught the attention of Foster two years ago when she won a regional competition that allowed her to sing as Foster accompanied her on piano. “He thought her voice was extraordinary,” Jackie‟s father Michael says.
So much so that the 16-time Grammy winner Foster helms Dream With Me and brought some remarkable company with him. The world‟s most celebrated female singer Barbra Streisand duets with Jackie on one of Streisand‟s signature songs, “West Side Story‟s” “Somewhere,” while new sensation and 2009 “Britain‟s Got Talent” contestant Susan Boyle performs the tender “A Mother‟s Prayer” with Jackie.
Dream with Me features a repertoire of classical arias and pop classics handpicked to suit Jackie‟s angelic voice. Her range is so great that she ably shifts from the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Puccini‟s “Nessun Dorma.”
Foster has worked with the biggest names in music, including Beyonce, Prince, Josh Groban and Celine Dion, but he admits that Jackie‟s talent astonished him. “Her natural ability and the depth of her understanding of the musical process left me speechless,” he says. “She was a pure joy to work with and I had a front row seat to one of the next great talents of our time.”
Dream With Me is the follow-up to Jackie‟s SYCO/Columbia Records major label debut, last November‟s seasonal collection, “O Holy Night.” The set, which featured classical crossover soprano singing such Christmas favorite as “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night,” blazed onto the Billboard 200 at No. 2, making Jackie the youngest female solo artist to debut during the SoundScan era as well as the year‟s top-selling debut artist.
Additionally, the exceptionally beautiful collection topped the Billboard Classical Chart.Although last summer‟s edition of “America‟s Got Talent” introduced the world to Jackie and her astonishing vocal talent, her musical story begins before her life-changing appearance on the talent contest. The starting point came from what seemed like just another outing for the Evancho family: a trip to the cinema to see “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“We went to see it in the movie theater. It was very, very good,” Jackie told Pennsylvania television station WPXI. “It was a very long movie and we were mesmerized by it.” Her mother, Lisa, purchased the DVD and something in Andrew Lloyd Webber‟s score resonated in Jackie, igniting a passion in her soul. Still, as she sang the melodramatic tunes from the film around the house in her shimmering soprano, “We really didn‟t think [her voice] was anything out of the ordinary,” says Michael. “She‟s our oldest daughter; there were no other seven-year-olds to compare it to.” They soon realized how wrong they were as Jackie began stopping people in their tracks with her vocals. “At her first little talent competition, we invited my parents,” Mike recalls. “She started to sing, my folks looked at each other like „What‟s going on here?‟ Plus with the crowd reaction, then we knew.” It seems unfathomable now, but Jackie‟s appearance on “AGT” came after other brushes with the show were met with rejection.
She auditioned twice for “AGT” in person in Philadelphia and the producers passed on her. It wasn‟t until her parents submitted a YouTube audition for “AGT,” almost on a whim, that she finally found her home on center stage. The viewers who watched Jackie‟s stunning audition submission couldn‟t forget what they‟d witnessed. She earned the most fan votes through the YouTube competition, awarding her the twelfth spot among the slate of “AGT” contestants for the show‟s fifth season.
Her first on-air performance, in which she sung Puccini‟s “O Mio Babbino Caro,” also included on Dream With Me, was transcendent, shocking and delighting the surprised audience. She further wowed everyone with her subsequent performances of “Time to Say Goodbye,” made famous by her idols, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman; Webber‟s version of “Pie Jesu,” and, in the finale, the classic “Ava Maria.” Her sterling appearances sent sales of her self-made independent release, “Prelude to a Dream” soaring up Billboard‟s Top Classical Crossover Albums Chart, where it peaked at No. 2.While other girls her age are singing pop ditties they hear on Top 40 stations, Jackie has an inherent understanding of her talent. “I never really had a pop voice,” she told WPXI. “But even if I had a pop voice, I would have gone with classical because it‟s different from what many other children do, because with classical you‟re able to show emotion in it.”
She also continues to cultivate her other musical abilities, learning to play both the violin and piano. She‟s already mastered the theme to “The Godfather,” according to her mom. Keeping Jackie‟s extraordinary life as normal as possible is vital to Michael and Lisa. “She gets in trouble like any other 10 year old,” Michael says. “There are times she can‟t play with her friends because her homework isn‟t done…She has to do the normal chore stuff: clean her room, straighten up.” But they make sure she has plenty of time to dream and for us to dream with her. After all, if nothing else, Dream With Me is a testament to the power of living one‟s dreams and inspiring others to realize theirs as well. As Jackie says, “If someone has a dream, they should always go for it because that‟s what happened to me and my dream came true.”