Last fall, a big young voice captured the attention of NBC's America's Got Talent. That big voice is coming from a small young lady — Jackie Evancho.
At just 11 years old, she was the runner-up on the show, but she garnered millions of YouTube views and a record deal. Her classical crossover album Dream With Me is out next month.
Jackie started singing around the age of 8 after falling in love with The Phantom Of The Opera.
"I went to see it in theaters and I loved it so much," she tells All Things Considered host Michelle Norris. "When I got home, I started singing the songs around the house and my mom thought I was really good, so she asked me if I wanted to do a talent competition. And I said 'yes, definitely.' "
The newly found fame has Jackie on the road more often than not, but she's OK with the traveling since she's chasing her dream.
"I do feel like I see a plane seat more than I see my own bed," says Jackie. "If I want this to be my dream, I'm going to have to just suck it up and get used to the fact that I'm not seeing home as much as I did."
And while Jackie is not seeing home as much as she once used to, she's trying to stay a kid and not looking too far down the road.
"At this point I try not to think about that, because I think of how horrible my voice could turn into or how great my voice could turn into," she says. "I sometimes get scared of growing up because I really love being young, being little. It's fun. A lot funner than being an adult."
But Jackie is still an 11-year-old who has fears and dreams like every other preteen.
"I'm concerned that if I get older, people aren't going to enjoy me as much as when I was younger. I had a great voice for a little girl, but my voice can't get any bigger when I'm older," she says. "When I know that I've made it, it's when I'll be standing on a red carpet and there's a whole bunch of paparazzi around me. That's when I know I've made it."
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Last fall, this big voice captured the attention of NBC's television show "America's Got Talent."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PIE JESU")
JACKIE EVANCHO: (Singing in foreign language)
NORRIS: Jackie, welcome to the studio.
EVANCHO: Thank you for having me.
NORRIS: When did you start singing?
EVANCHO: Well, I just started singing when I was about to turn 8 years old actually, and - yeah.
NORRIS: When you first started singing, did you immediately sensed that you have this force, or did it come to you through a lot of training? Was there something that inspired this singing?
EVANCHO: The only thing that really inspired me for singing was the movie and musical "Phantom of the Opera." I went to see it in the theaters, and I loved it so much. And when I got home, I started singing the songs around the house, and my mom thought I was really good, so she asked me if I wanted to do a talent competition. And I said, yes, definitely. And I was first runner-up.
NORRIS: Wow. When you were twirling around the house, singing along with the music from "Phantom of the Opera," was there one song in particular that you just loved and that you would sing all the time?
EVANCHO: The main theme song called "The Phantom of the Opera."
NORRIS: Mm-hmm. You should see your face even when you talk about it right now. It's clear that you really do like it. Would you mind singing just a little bit of that for us?
EVANCHO: (Singing) In sleep, he sang to me. In dreams, he came. That voice who calls to me and speaks my name. And do I dream again? For now I find the phantom of the opera is there inside my mind.
NORRIS: Wow. Your voice is really incredible. But you know what else is incredible is your ability to channel emotion at such a young age. It's clear that you're in touch with what you're singing.
EVANCHO: The music kind of possesses me when I sing. So whenever I start to sing on a show - I mean, first, I'm nervous, and then when I get into it, it's just like I feel like I'm the person who sang the song first.
NORRIS: What's life like for you since fame has come to your doorstep after "America's Got Talent?" Do you spend a lot of time on the road?
EVANCHO: I do feel like I see a plane seat more than I see my own bed. But, I mean, I'm learning to deal with that. If I really want this to be my dream, I'm going to have to just suck it up and get used to the fact that I'm not going to be seeing home as much as I did. It's all for a good cause. It's for the enjoyment of me being able to sing.
NORRIS: What grade are you in?
EVANCHO: I'm in fifth.
NORRIS: Mm-hmm. And so this is the time when you might be involved in dances and that kind of thing. Is it sometimes hard to just be a kid and balance your travel schedule?
EVANCHO: I'd just gotten used to it over the years. So when I'm in superstar Jackie mode, it's just - it's kind of easier.
NORRIS: Did someone come up with that term for you, or is that something you came up with yourself? I'm going into superstar Jackie mode right now.
EVANCHO: My mom, actually. It starts off as me getting my hair done and my lips and my makeup done. And whenever I'm waiting behind the stage, it's kind of like my normal Jackie mode is me talking a lot, playing around, but superstar Jackie mode is me concentrating on making sure that this performance was going to be a great performance. It's going to be entertaining, and that there won't be many mistakes, and that there won't be any mistakes, actually.
NORRIS: You know, you're so young, but it's possible that your voice might change as you get older. Have you thought about that?
EVANCHO: At this point, I try not to think about that, because I think of how horrible my voice could turn into or how great my voice could turn into that I sometimes get scared of growing up because I really love being young, I mean, being little. It's fun. A lot funner than being an adult, I guess.
NORRIS: Hmm. What are you concerned about?
EVANCHO: I'm just concerned that if I get older, people aren't going to enjoy me as much as when I was younger, because I had a great voice for a little girl, but I mean, my voice can't get any bigger when I'm older. I'm afraid that I'm not going to get as big of an applause, especially since this - one of my favorite parts is singing because of my age.
NORRIS: So I think I hear you saying that you don't want to be just a novelty act.
NORRIS: You want a career out of this.
EVANCHO: Yeah. It's just - when I know that I've made it is when I'm standing on the red carpet, and there's a whole bunch of paparazzi around me. That's when I feel like I know that I've made it.
NORRIS: I'm so glad that you're able to come in the studio today. It's been a pleasure to have you here. And I'm wondering if there's one song in particular from your release, "Dream With Me," that we should listen to as we send you out?
EVANCHO: There is my original song "Dream With Me." I helped write it. I just wrote down little thoughts that I thought were dreamy. So I hope you guys enjoy that.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAM WITH ME")
EVANCHO: (Singing) Imagine a world that kind, with not a child left behind.
NORRIS: Jackie Evancho, thanks so much for coming in. All the best to you.
EVANCHO: Thank you. Same.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
NORRIS: To hear and see 11-year-old Jackie Evancho perform the music of (inaudible), go to npr.org.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DREAM WITH ME")
EVANCHO: (Singing) Dream with me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.