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'20/20' Features Jackie Evancho as 'Wonder Girl'

Interviewer Elizabeth Vargas chats with 11-year-old about her incredible voice.

They called her “Wonder Girl.”

That is the moniker bestowed upon 11-year-old Richland resident Jackie Evancho on Friday night’s 20/20 on ABC. The international singing star was part of a show titled Special Powers: Super Humans.

“We don’t think there’s ever been a superhero whose strength comes in the form of a powerhouse voice, but I talked to someone who could fit the bill,” said co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas as she introduced the show’s segment about Jackie.

“She’s gone from YouTube all the way to the top of the charts and she’s only 11 years old,” said Vargas, referring to Jackie as “a bona fide superstar with a top-selling album [Dream With Me], legions of fawning fans and a stunning sound.”

Asked if she was surprised to hear that she is considered super human, Jackie replied:

“It does surprise me because whenever I listen to myself sing, all I hear is an 11-year-old girl.”

Vargas asked Jackie when she started to notice her voice. Jackie told her it was when she had just turned 8 years old and saw the movie, Phantom of the Opera.

“We loved it,” Jackie said.

“Jackie began singing the movie’s songs in the mirror,” Vargas said. “But at first, no one noticed that Jackie had a special gift.”

Mike Evancho, the singing sensation’s father, said: “To my wife and I, we thought that’s how all 8-year-olds sounded.”

“You thought all 8-year-old girls sounded like that?” Vargas asked.

“Yeah,” her father Mike chuckled, “we didn’t know.”

The show said Jackie’s star started to shine after her mother entered her in a local contest.

“It ended up that I was the first runner-up to a 20-year-old opera singer and that was kind of the sign that showed my family that I had the talent,” Jackie said.

She was referring to the Kean Idol Amateur Talent Contest held annually at the Kean Theatre on the St. Barnabas Health System campus in Richland. [ for a story about the Kean Idol award named in her honor.]

Then Jackie auditioned for NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

“Amazingly she didn’t make the cut,” Vargas said.

Jackie then auditioned through YouTube and was voted the audience favorite, which gave her a spot on last summer’s show.

When she first performed on America’s Got Talent, the judges and audience gave her a standing ovation. Judge Piers Morgan called it “one of the most extraordinary performances I’ve ever seen on America’s Got Talent” and the crowd roared its approval.

Vargas asked if Jackie was surprised by the judges’ reaction and the standing ovation.

“I was surprised.  And that’s why I cried. I couldn’t believe it.”

The powerful operatic voice was so extraordinary, some literally did not believe it came out of a little 10-year-old girl.

Asked if Jackie is upset that some think she is lip-synching, her father said, “No. It’s more of a compliment now. Because if you’re being accused of lip-syncing, you must be good.”

20/20 interviewed Dr. Clark Rosen, director of the UPMC Voice Center, about Jackie’s extraordinary voice.

He said it is not her lungs or vocal chords that make the difference.

“What puts this all together to make this amazing voice is Jackie’s brain,” he said. “Jackie’s brain coordinates the lungs, the throat, the vocal chords and puts it all together into an amazing voice.”

Vargas asked Jackie what it feels like to be onstage singing.

“Actually, I can’t describe it. It feels like I’m possessed,” she said. “I’m possessed by the music.”

The 20/20 show portrayed Jackie at home as a normal kid – playing piano, arguing with her brother as they played video games, playing outdoors and hanging out with her three siblings.

Vargas closed the interview by asking Jackie about the “best part about being able to sing.” Jackie answered with her signature smile:

“The best part is just being able to show the world that miracles do happen.”

Click here to see the 20/20 show.

Joe Geshel August 20, 2011 at 09:18 PM
I sincerely hope that this young lady can handle all the opportunity and success that awaits her.
Patrick Wyche July 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I just wanted to say how great it is that this beautiful child ,with such a gifted voice , has come along at these troubled times. Maybe God sneaked her in to cheer us all up! Do ya think? Anyway , i think that she is the best thing since mashed potatoes. Jackie rules !
Dave Kanak April 28, 2013 at 05:43 AM
Jackie Evancho is possessed. This good lil Catholic girl from Pittsburgh, prays before singing, for God to be with and help her sing. She has said she feels possessed by something that comes over her when she sings, and she and her parents always say God, when asked where her voice and talent come from. This child, who one the world's greatest producers, David Foster, at 10, said it was an understatement to say, Jackie was at the top of his 40 yr heap of megasingers. This child, who had never taken formal lessons, doesn't practice, or even know how to read basic music, learns difficult 5 min foreign arias forever almost instantly, and sings and performs them with a flawless angelic sweet soft soprano better than the world's Divas, I have found that Jackie does not just have an amazing beautiful voice, but Everything about Jackie is Amazing and beautiful. Jackie remains faithful, and still sings at all her concerts, all over the world, The Lord's Prayer. IMO, Jackie is possessed, by the Holy Spirit of God. :)

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