The awakening of Jackie Evancho

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Jackie Evancho was only 10 years old when she was discovered in the TV reality show contest America’s Got Talent. Like everybody said then, the girl had all the goods. She was pretty, well-mannered and had an incredible singing voice. She did not win the competition but she easily became a big star soon after. She recorded big-selling albums, had sold-out concerts all over the world and even got into acting, particularly in the movie The Company You Keep as Robert Redford’s daughter, and did modeling stints most notably with Guess. 

I enjoyed listening to Jackie but I also had a problem with her singing. Not that it was anything bad. It was in fact, great. Almost flawless. But I found her soprano too rich, too lush for a child still so young. I found it difficult to reconcile the voice with the wisp of a girl who was singing. I also thought she was being made to sing too grown-up songs. I remember thinking then that she must have been born with really big pipes and a very deep thorax. Thankfully, little girls grow up — and Jackie did. She is turning 15 on April 9 and I now have an easier time listening to her. The voice has caught up with her age.

Her latest album is titled Awakening and it introduces a beautiful soprano with a voice to match and a wonderful repertoire that is just right for her. Jackie mixes old and new songs. There are three new originals that were composed especially for her, Take Me There, Open Fields Of Grace and Made To Dream. These are very good songs but only time will tell if they will be big hits for Jackie or if they will one day be considered classics. As is usually the case with albums of this sort, it is the covers of the oldies that command attention from the listener and she has certainly come up with true treasures.

Awakening is a varied collection of pop favorites, songs from the stage, TV and movie soundtracks and a few classics. Leading the line-up is Think Of Me from the musical Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which made me think that Jackie would make an ideal Christine someday. There are also Your Love by Ennio Morricone from the movie Once Upon A Time In The West; Je T’aime originally a big hit by Lara Fabian; the Ave Maria by Caccini and Vavilov; Memories by the Dutch band Within Temptation; The Rains Of Castamere from the TV series Game of Thrones; the classic lullaby Dormi Jesu; a wordless piece from Rachmaninoff; and the big surprise rocker, With Or Without You by U2.

Jackie’s style has now become so distinct and she can call each of the songs her own. The effect is warm and lyrical. It helps that though fully orchestrated with the Budapest Concert Orchestra and complemented with a big chorus, the arrangements never detract from her voice. Her emerging maturity now also shows a firm grasp of the emotions she is singing about. This is a beautiful Awakening, an album to be enjoyed for hours and hours, and certainly one that makes the case for buying the physical CD, instead of merely downloading selections. You want to hear the whole thing in the right sequence, get lost in the music and enjoy.

If you liked Jackie’s Awakening, then I am sure you will also enjoy Your Favorite 101 Broadway Musicals. And again, this is an album that would be too expensive to download, what with its 101 cuts. So you might as well buy the entire thing that comes in the real bargain price of only P500 for six fully-loaded discs.

For us Pinoys, the true highlight of the compilation are the cuts from the soundtrack of last year’s revival of Miss Saigon. Singing The Movie In My Mind, The Last Night Of The World and I’d Give My Life For You are Eva Noblezada, Rachelle Ann Go, Allistair Brammer and the Ensemble. Too bad there is no solo song that features Olivier Award nominee Jonjon Briones. Still it is heartening to find affirmation that Filipinos have indeed become noteworthy members of the theater world.

Among the other tracks included are On Broadway from The Jersey Boys; All I Ask Of You from Phantom of the Opera; Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from Evita; I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserablés; Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music; We Kiss In A Shadow from The King and I; Tonight from West Side Story; I Don’t Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar; Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific; Defying Gravity from Wicked; Memory from Cats; Corner Of The Sky from Pippin; Circle Of Life from The Lion King; Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid; Dancing Queen from Mamma Mia; And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls; and many others.












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