PITTSBURGH,None — Pittsburgh's own 10-year-old singing sensation, Jackie Evancho, has moved on to the "America's Got Talent" semi-finals in Las Vegas.
The Richland Township native was one of 12 acts selected from 20,000 YouTube entries chosen to audition live. She caught the attention of the world with her debut performance Aug. 10, singing "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's 1918 opera "Gianni Schicci."
"Jackie to me is the best performer I've seen on this show," said host Nick Cannon.
"I mean, I've never seen anything quite like it," said judge Piers Morgan. "You get goose bumps. You do. I did with Susan Boyle. I did with Jackie, cause you know you're experiencing a moment that is going to pop around the world as an amazing event."
Jackie and her family stopped by the Channel 11 studios Monday for an exclusive one-on-one interview.
Video: Jackie Talks One-On-One With WPXI Raw Video: Jackie Sings During WPXI Interview Video: Watch Jackie's Performance Video: Jackie Advances To Semi-Finals Slideshow: Jackie Evancho Visits Channel 11 Studios
In her first-ever interview since being thrown into the national spotlight, Jackie told me she discovered her voice when she was just 8-years-old.
"It was 'Phantom of the Opera.' We went to go see it in the movie theater and it was very, very good. It was a very long movie, and we were mesmerized with it," Jackie said.
Jackie's mom, Lisa, told me she bought the movie on DVD and Jackie and her brothers and sister watched it constantly. That's when Jackie starting singing songs from the movie around the house.
"I thought she sounded good," Lisa said. "Things just got bigger and bigger from there."
Jackie competed in the St. Barnabas Kean Idol Vocal Championship, finishing as first runner-up to a 20-year-old opera singer. Jackie performed at various other small events, and sang the national anthem at this year's Pittsburgh Pirates home opener.
Jackie's idols aren't people ordinarily admired by most 10-year-olds.
"Sarah Brightman, Sarah Brightman's vocal coach and Andrea Bocelli," Jackie said.
As I learned, Jackie is no ordinary little girl.
"I never really had a pop voice," she said. "I usually had a classical voice. But even if I had a pop voice I would've gone with classical because it's different from what many other children do. With classical, you're able to show emotion in it."
Jackie's voice is so amazing, it has left some people questioning if it's real.
The judges admitted that they were bombarded with phone calls about her performance, wondering if she was lip syncing.
"Nobody lip sync's as a contestant on this show and the thing is, she just sounded too good to be true. And it was true," said judge Howie Mandel.
"It makes me feel bad, because they don't believe me. And it's hard to show people that I do sing. It's not lip syncing," Jackie said.
Just as she did at Howie's request, Jackie belted out an a cappella performance that left everyone in the WPXI studio speechless. I can personally confirm Jackie's voice is real.
So what is Jackie's dream?
"My dream is to make a career out of this. To have fun with it. And just to be that girl on a Hollywood sign or something," she said.
From Pittsburgh, Jackie dreams of Hollywood. Her proud parents said they must work now to keep her grounded.
"That's the biggest job we have right now, is keeping her, Jackie," Mike Evancho said. "At the end of the day, she gets in trouble just like the other three kids do. I mean, she's still just our daughter. We don't look at her any different. We're proud of all of our kids."
Jackie might be young, but she's as poised and confident as someone twice her age, and she has a big message for her peers.
"If they have a dream they should always go for it. Because that's what happened to me and my dream came true," Jackie said.
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