When the 10-year-old blonde angel began to sing, from her lips came the voice of a seasoned professional opera singer! Millions of viewers of America’s Got Talent were astounded and inspired. Everyone who watched fell in love with this stunningly talented child’s voice.
Now at 16, Jackie is maturing and broadening her vocal repertoire with a range of music that she loves.
Our editor-in-chief of Inspiring Lives Magazine, Dr. Shellie Hipsky, sat down with Jackie in her family’s home. Jackie’s top secret—soon to be a hit—single played in the background during her interview. For years, opera lovers have delighted in her exceptional talent. In this interview, Dr. Shellie learned about Jackie’s goals and dreams as she inspires her peers by adding pop music to her portfolio.
Dr. Shellie: What was it like being on America’s Got Talent and becoming a young star?
Jackie: Being on America’s Got Talent at such a young age was really fun. I was very innocent and naïve, but I had a fantastic time. As a ten-year-old girl, it was like a wonderland, a really warm wonderland. It was full of a lot of professional people, but everyone was like a family. I made friends too; it was like going to a school with a big variety of people. They were very creative and talented.
Dr. Shellie: Are you a creative person?
Jackie: I am super creative! I love painting, writing, singing, and anything that is artistic. Drawing… anything that has to do with the creative half of the brain is what I do.
Dr. Shellie: You said that you like writing. Do you write your lyrics?
Jackie: Yes, recently I have been. I have been working on some music for my next album. I am really excited to see what people think.
Dr. Shellie: Will your new album be a big change from the operatic and classical music that you were known for?
Jackie: Yes, it is a lot different. I have been dabbling in the pop world. That won’t be my official style of singing, but I want to do two things at once. I think it’s rare for people to do that. I am testing how I sing as a pop performer, and so far, the people who have heard me sing pop say I am good. I hope my fans agree!
Dr. Shellie: You are already a celebrity with an established persona. Your one performance on America’s Got Talent has received over 13 million hits on YouTube. The world loves Jackie Evancho. Is it hard to have a public persona?
Jackie: It can be tricky sometimes because if you want to change yourself up a little bit or improve something about yourself that you no longer like, you have to do it slowly because you don’t want to shock your fans. That might be their favorite thing about you. So it takes time to change, but at least I can still change.
Dr. Shellie: The world watched as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera—who were both hits on the TV talent show Star Search—shed their little girl images and moved into the teen world of pop stars. They made their breakthrough albums and went forward with their careers. I think this will be your breakthrough year. When you make a transition like this, what goes through your mind when you are writing and getting ready to go on stage?
Jackie: Usually, I think that, if people don’t like this, then that’s ok because I’m putting my heart and soul out for everyone to see with my writing and performing and how I sing my songs. So, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen to me. I just hope that people do enjoy it.
Dr. Shellie: I know that they will like it! I do, and I just listened to your latest song.
Jackie: Oh, thank you!
Dr. Shellie: It’s important to be authentic, especially because you are a young role model. Being yourself will be very important throughout this entire process. I’m glad to see that you are putting the real you out there.
Jackie: Thank you!
Dr. Shellie: What was your favorite of all your performances?
Jackie: It was when I sang “Pia Jesu” on America’s Got Talent. I was wearing a purple dress, and there was fog everywhere around me. It was my favorite because I actually had the wardrobe person make that dress for me. I said, ‘Can you make a dress for me and make it look like this and that.’ And I got pretty much what I wanted.
Dr. Shellie: That’s awesome! Being able to co-design the dress you wore on stage let you express your creativity, too!
Jackie: Yeah, I was super happy!
Dr. Shellie: Because it is fall, what is the hardest part about going back to school, while working on your music?
Jackie: Juggling my career with going to public school is a little tricky, but it’s not as hard as making friends in my school. I have a really hard time being around people I don’t know and making friends. I am always afraid that they will hate me or talk about me in bad ways.
Dr. Shellie: My daughter needs to read this article! All girls and women need to see that side. We all have that feeling in our lifetimes. I am sure that you have many friends. You are a very warm and open young lady.
Jackie: I try to be! The only problem is that when a lot of girls see someone, they have an automatic judgment of that person—they can’t help it. Then they don’t want to get to know them. Or they don’t care to get to know them. So you are stuck with no friends. You need to push yourself to speak to them because you more mature, but that is where I fall flat. I am very, very, very shy and awkward with people who I just met.
Dr. Shellie: You are doing a fantastic job right now! Is it just in your age group?
Jackie: Mainly, yes, in my age group.
Dr. Shellie: Do you think that this is because you have been in the spotlight?
Jackie: Yes, I think so. I have been around adults my whole life.
Dr. Shellie: And they all know you or know a lot about you, correct?
Jackie: Yes. I am also pretty mature for my age, according to what people tell me. I am just used to being around adults, and I get their humor better than the humor of kids who are my age. I find the things that adults do more appealing than what the kids my age do. Like, I am not a partier.
Dr. Shellie: That’s good. How would you describe yourself?
Jackie: I would describe myself as shy, but crazy insane silly when you get to know me. Everyone has a first impression of quietness about them, and then when you find that comfort level, you show your true self. I think that is when people decide if they what to be a friend. That is the pivotal point. It’s not the first impression, really. It’s after they see the real you that they become a real friend if they chose to.
Dr. Shellie: Have you had problems with people just wanting to be your friend because you are on TV and have had hit albums?
Jackie: I have been around a few people where it seemed that way. But I don’t want to place that judgement. It seemed that way because the only time they talk to me is about my job or about how they could get to where I am.
Of course, it’s nice to give someone advice, but for someone that I hang out with and see every day, that’s not what I want in a friendship
Dr. Shellie: So you don’t want to just be a steppingstone for them. You want a true friendship with give and take.
Dr. Shellie: You mentioned that people are always looking for advice, what would you tell a young performer about how to take those next steps?
Jackie: Today, it is really difficult to be noticed because so much talent can be seen on social media. But social media also makes it a lot easier because you could just post a video of yourself singing or dancing or a picture of your art. Many people can see it that way, especially if you put up hashtags. You can get seen a lot quicker. So my recommendation would be to make a YouTube Channel and make an Instagram page and then constantly post on there. Also, don’t let haters get to you because sometimes I let them get to me.
Dr. Shellie: How should people deal with “haters” who judge?
Jackie: On social media, erase their comments, and block them. If it is in-person, you can ignore them. Or you can take a really brave route and not cuss them out or yell at them. Instead, just ask them to stop. I try to be self-aware and mature because that is the key to being who I want to be.
Dr. Shellie: That’s deep for a 16-year-old. How do you become self-aware?
Jackie: Sometimes it can make you really crazy. I mean for most teenagers, they think that being self-aware is looking in a mirror and seeing how fat or skinny they are. This causes a lot of eating disorders. It takes a certain mindset to look at your personality rather than what you see in a mirror. If I catch myself thinking something that I would hate someone to say to me, I try to change it to a positive thought.
Dr. Shellie: What do you like to do when you are not singing?
Jackie: I love to ride horses! My little sister and I do it at a local farm. My mom used to ride horses all the time when she was younger, so the love for horses has kind of been passed down.
Dr. Shellie: You will enjoy reading about my cowgirl adventure. My daughter and I went to Wyoming and rode horses, and the article will be in your issue of Inspiring Lives Magazine!
Jackie: Sounds great! My sister and I can’t wait to get our own horses someday! They are amazing animals.
Dr. Shellie: You have a lot of interests. How do you balance it all?
Jackie: I have really good parents. They are a big part of keeping me grounded and keeping me on track. I am a teenager, and I love to be lazy. But they are always there to remind me that I have this and that to do. It can drive me absolutely crazy, but it is what needs to be done. I am perfectly fine with that because, in the end, it is something that I wanted to do anyway.
You have to stay grounded. I have seen people become monsters. I despise seeing that in people. I don’t ever want to be like that, so it comes back to being self-aware.
Dr. Shellie: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Jackie: I see myself singing. Hopefully, I will be as big and inspiring as artists like Selena Gomez. I also want to go to college.
I want to go to Pitt, Penn State, or NYU, and I’d like to study criminal psychology so I can read people. People say that I already do that well, but I want to be able to watch them behave a certain way or see them doing something with their hand and know what it means, that way people can’t lie to me as easily.
Dr. Shellie: I’m sure you will do well in criminal psychology, just as you have in your creative pursuits. One last thing: what can a parent of a creative child do to support their dreams?
Jackie: Constantly support them by giving them the freedom to express their creativity without limits. Telling someone that they can’t do it will make them go crazy. When you have creativity inside you, you have to get it out. You have to share it with the world!