Jackie Evancho talks and acts like any 10-year-old -- until she opens her mouth to sing. And then it's hard to believe that such a big, commanding voice is actually coming out of this tiny person.
But indeed it is, as millions of TV viewers witnessed during this summer's edition of NBC's "America's Got Talent." And though Evancho finished as runner-up in the contest's finale, she's chalking up a win this week. Her debut CD/DVD, "O Holy Night," entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2 last week with 239,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Released by Syco/Columbia Records -- home to fellow vocal phenomenon Susan Boyle -- Evancho's first commercial project features two holiday faves (the title track and "Silent Night") and new recordings of "Pie Jesu" and "Panis Angelicus," two classical songs she performed on "America's Got Talent." Packaged with the CD is a DVD of her TV performances, her audition video and an interview with the Pittsburgh soprano.
Video: Jackie Evancho performs on "Today"
Ask Evancho where her voice comes from, and she answers simply, "God. I mean, no one sings in our family. We're very musical with pianists, violinists such as me and drummers. But no singers."
Watching Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" in a movie theater and later singing along to a DVD version her mother purchased signaled the first step in the then-7-year-old's career. She later won a regional contest giving her the opportunity to be accompanied by Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster.
Evancho then auditioned twice for "America's Got Talent" in Philadelphia. The producers, however, passed on her both times. But things started to click when her parents submitted a YouTube audition for the show. Fan votes propelled her onto the slate for the series' fifth season, during which her penchant for classical crossover was revealed. In fact, her self-made indie project, "Prelude to a Dream," peaked at No 2 on Top Classical Crossover Albums.
So it's no surprise that the singer's first full-length album, which she'll begin recording in early 2011, will focus on classical crossover-a genre that lets you "show a lot of emotion," Evancho says. "With pop that's kind of difficult." And while she may not be whipping her hair like 10-year-old peer Willow Smith, Evancho says she does listen to "everything from Josh Groban to Lady Gaga."
Groban producer Marius DeVries and Evancho took just three days to record the "O Holy Night" CD. "It was a short but amazing experience," Evancho says with a giggle. "It was a lot of fun working with him. He's a good producer and CD maker who taught me you have to work very hard to reach your goal."
Currently on Evancho's work schedule are performances at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony in New York (Nov. 30) and on "The Martha Stewart Show" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The singer's performance for the tree festivities in Washington, D.C., will air before the end of the year.
Surprised that her first major-label release "has made such a big success," Evancho has a few more goals she'd like to accomplish. "I see myself singing for the president, the pope and for Simon Cowell's wedding."