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Jackie Evancho Honored as a History Maker in Western Pennsylvania

The 12-year-old received the honor at the 20th Annual History Makers Award Dinner sponsored by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

Seated in the midst of Western Pennsylvania's titans, 12-year-old Jackie Evancho awaited the moment she would be called to the podium.

The international singing star from Richland was one of five people honored Friday night as a history maker in Western Pennsylvania by the Senator John Heinz History Center.

History maker? At age 12? 

Yup. And she was in very good company at the 20th Annual History Makers Award Dinner held at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh. 

Also honored as history makers were four Western Pennsylvania leaders—Ronald R. Davenport Sr., Judge D. Michael Fisher, Stephen R. Tritch and Floyd "Chip" Ganassi Jr.—whose life experiences spanned far more decades that Jackie has lived.

The awards honor outstanding men and women whose achievements, while rooted in Western Pennsylvania, transcend geographical boundaries. The $250-a-ticket black-tie affair raised $300,000 for the history center.

Jackie was named a history maker in arts and letters.

"Tonight we are delighted to honor you, Jackie Evancho, as our youngest ever history maker in arts and letters," said Robert Krizner, managing partner of KPMG's Pittsburgh Office, when he introduced her.

"Thank you for sharing your great talent with such humility and joy and for being a perfect ambassador for Western Pennsylvania," he said.

Jackie got a laugh when she took the podium and said: "Um, you know, since I’m 12 years old, I really don’t know what to say.”

With her effervescent smile, she continued her short acceptance speech, “It makes me really happy that everyone else believes in me and makes me feel special. I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career.”

At a reception before the dinner, Jackie and the other award recipients mingled with guests.

As always, Jackie came across as a smiling, bubbly child with more poise than many adults possess.

She signed autographs throughout the evening.

“Few singers have stirred the souls of people worldwide so gently and also so sweetly as she has," Krizner said in his introduction, while photos and a video were projected on big screens in the room. "Western Pennsylvania really couldn’t be prouder."

He noted that since she appeared on at the age of 10, her classical crossover style has won her international acclaim.

"You’ve appeared in , , New York and even privately for ," Krizner continued as the big screens showed her with President Obama, Oprah, Jay Leno, Muhammad Ali and others.

"In February you sang at the or President Obama who delivered the keynote address and (Jackie) performed a song that was actually written by her uncle," Krizner continued.

"You called on everyone to believe in a day when hunger and war will pass away. And after that performance, Vice President Biden said, 'Now I know how angels sound.'"

She's been called an angel and a superstar, said Krizner, noting that her first recording, O Holy Night, was the No. 1 best-selling debut album in 2010.

At the end of the evening, Heinz History Center President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew E. Masich said he knew Jackie had been working hard throughout the day, recording.

"You don't have to sing for us because it's past your bedtime," he said, to which the audience sighed a disappointed "awww."

"We'd like to sing you a song. You can join in if you want to ... but, let's sing, 'God Bless America.'"

The audience did. Jackie sang along. And that was the end of the program.

The night's other history makers are: 

Ronald R. Davenport Sr. is the founder, chairman and CEO of Sheridan Broadcasting Corp. He "carved a path of achievement in education, law, business and community service. He contronted injustice with sharp legal and business acumen and gave African-Americans an important voice in broadcasting," according to the program

Judge D. Michael Fisher "was destined to a life of politics and public service," the the program states. Now a federal judge, Fisher was recognized as a history maker in government. Previously, he served in the Pennsylvania Legislature and as the commonwealth's attorney general.

Stephen R. Tritch traveled the world brokering business deals and played a key role in Westinghouse Electric Co.'s growth as a world powerhouse. The company's retired chairman and CEO was honored as a history maker in business and industry.

Floyd "Chip" Ganassi Jr. received the history maker in sports award. "A fixture in the auto racing industry for more than 25 years, he has won worldwide renown as one of the sport's most successful and innovative owners. A fierce competitor with a passion for winning, he is also known as a sharp businessman and industry leader."

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Chuck Yates April 14, 2012 at 07:12 AM
►► Cindy... thank you for your excellent summary of the events this evening. It's great to have you as our eyes and ears. Through your writing skills you were able to convey import of the evening as well as the emotion and humor. Thank you. Chuck Yates Los Angeles, CA
Samuel Silvers April 14, 2012 at 07:31 AM
Thanks for this lovely article, Ms. Micco. I see that you posted it at 2:20 am, so it seems that it was not only Jackie who was up past her bedtime. :-)
Bernie R Scott April 14, 2012 at 10:02 AM
Cindy as usual you make me proud to be a fan of this incredible young lady named Jackie Evancho.With her incredible musical talent,humble ways,generous contributions to animal Humane causes,dedication to her supporters,fans,friends,and family,this sweet and gentle soul brings out the best in all that she encounters.Congratulations Jackie despite your young age your rising legacy inspires and does your Community proud.
Sempi Ternam April 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Congratulations, Jackie! You deserve it! Thank you, Cindy, for this wonderful article, and the photos, too. Alex Moss, Columbia, SC
Joe Merkt April 14, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Cindy, Thank you once again fro a wonderful article about Jackie and the other history makers honored last night by the Heinz History Center. You have been a fabulous ambassador for Jackie and, as a fan, I appreciate it. It's wonderful to see Jackie honored for representing Western PA. She has always been a huge supporter of Pittsburgh and mentions the city in many of her appearances. I'm sure Jackie will gain many more honors in the coming year but I know that she will always mention Pittsburgh. Just last night, during the ceremony we found out that Jackie will appear at the opening of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St Petersburgh, Russia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg_International_Economic_Forum) on June 20th. It's just incredible to see how her fame is spreading! Thanks, again, Cindy and best wishes from Joe Merkt Thompsons Station, TN
Robert Dorff April 14, 2012 at 02:24 PM
In a country which gives more awards than there are people, it's wonderful to see one SO RICHLY DESERVED as this one to Jackie Evancho. She's food for the soul and SHE'S BEYOND SPECIAL!!
Terry Baker April 14, 2012 at 02:45 PM
My heart-felt congratulations go to Jackie, and her family. Jackie's award in Arts & Letters is a great honor for them all. It is incredible to thinks about how much she has accomplished in such a short period of time, about how much she has contributed to the rich cultural heritage of Pittsburgh and the recognition this has brought to the city she loves to call home. All this in just two years! Jackie has accomplished more in two years than many do in a lifetime. Her list of historic, record setting firsts is impressive, and she will only add to it over time. Jackie is just now beginning to come into her power, and I predict many more such honors in her future as her ability to influence and unite diverse people around the world becomes more apparent. We are seeing just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in terms of Jackie's ability to make a positive difference in people's lives. And as amazing as she is now, the best is yet to come. I am proud to be a Jackie Fan. Terry Baker Minneapolis, MN
Steven K. Carter April 14, 2012 at 06:15 PM
We are all so fortunate to share some time with Jackie. She embodies the finest aspects of who we are as a species. Allowing her little self to be used as a vessel and channel in which and through which God's Love can be given to the world is such an awesome responsibity. Jackie does this with a grace and poise beyond anything I have ever experienced in one so young. Jackie, your voice and persona are a joy to behold. Thank you Jackie. Know that you are loved unconditionally by all. :-)
mary schroeder April 14, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Always be loyal to your God and your family. They are the ones that gave you your gift and helped you explore it and find joy in it. You and your voice bring me happiness.
ben Surbana April 14, 2012 at 09:32 PM
To Jackie: May your heart be filled with the Joy only God can give, this day and always!
James Dale Barrington April 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Dale Barrington Your voice puts me to sleep every night. It is so good to see where your singing has taken you. Should I say you humility and sweetness. Happy birthday and enjoy being 12 years old as much as you can. Fantabuloso!!! and Gold Smacked!!! are my favorite words now. A fan always.
Andy Spring April 14, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Congratulations on this Award Jackie, you are a inspiration to all people around this World, including the rest of the Angels Congratulations as well for the other 4 History makers Regards Jackie Evancho's Australian Fan Club
Ken Varn April 14, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Great article Cindy! Some of the quotes brought a tear to my eye. I am so glad that Jackie was recognized at this event. She surely deserves it!
Howard April 15, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Howard That was a very nice article. Thats a wonderful award she received. How high can Jackie go .The fact that she will be an ambassador for the US in Russia singing in front of hundreds of thousands of people is just spellbinding. Singing for presidents,emporors and now dignitaries from around the world. This brings me back to How HIgh can she go.....No limits
Edna Estareja April 06, 2013 at 03:27 AM
I am so impress with your article,thanks for sharing. Jackie Marie Evancho have a great personality at a young age. Her voice and talent is extra ordinary,none in the history can bet this little girl in a short period of time. All honor and respect is so over whelming to believe. She had a growing followers from all class,and ages. Thanks God for bringing this child in this world and having a good parent. Our prayer is with Jackie,and remain good and humble. Soon you'll be 13 yrs. old,happy birthday in adv. peace and more blessing be with you.

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