Jackie Evancho Trades Classical for Pop on Brand-New Song 'Apocalypse': Exclusive Premiere

Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho

"I'm finding different sides of my voice with every new song I sing," the "America's Got Talent" alum tells Billboard.

In the chorus of her new song "Apocalypse," Jackie Evancho sings, "To lose you, really lose you, I'm gonna have to lose myself." Evancho definitely hasn't lost herself, but she has found a brand-new sound.

The 16-year-old singer -- introduced at age 10 on America's Got Talent -- is taking a step outside the classical world that made her famous for her first pop single, debuting exclusively on Billboard below. "It's not going to be the only thing I sing, but I am kind of dabbling in that area," Evancho tells Billboard about testing the pop waters. "That started when a friend of mine sent a song that he thought I would sound good on, and I sang it in a pop voice, and I guess it blew people away and they were impressed with how I sounded."

Jackie Evancho's 'Your Love': Listen

That song was "Apocalypse," which is available for purchase on Friday and making its premiere here:

While "Apocalypse" is a slower piano ballad -- evoking Adele's "Hello" in emotion and sound -- Evancho is ready to try out some more upbeat songs too. "All doors are open right now," she says. "We're just taking what we like and I'm singing what I like. And the best thing about it is, I'm finding different sides of my voice with every new song I sing. Everything sounds different, and it's really fun to find out new things about myself."

"Apocalypse" -- the first single from her upcoming album, due later this year -- came to Evancho from songwriter/producer Peter Zizzo (Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne) and producer Michael Mangini (Joss Stone). The duo learned that the singer was open to a new direction and sent the powerful track her way. "Through singing the song, I think Jackie started to learn a little bit more about what she's capable of as a singer," Zizzo tells Billboard. "When you get away from some of what she's used to doing in so much of her material up until now, she started to learn a little bit more about her voice and what's possible for her as a singer, which was really exciting to see."

The two music vets were worried the mature subject matter of the song -- which details a rocky breakup and includes lyrics like "I don't know if my heart can still afford this/ Sleeping in a bed that was our fortress" -- might need to be tailored to the then-15-year-old artist, but Evancho embraced the song's emotional depth. "I took another look at the lyrics when we realized we were gonna record it with Jackie, because I felt that some of it might be a little bit rough for her in terms of relationship experience, but she really loved the emotional point of view and she was comfortable with it," Zizzo says.

Mangini added that her view as a teenager was just what the song needed. "She's 15 and she's experiencing those kind of emotions for the first time in her life. So my thought was: 'Who better to express those kind of emotions than a person who probably feels them more intensely than any of us adults do?' We've all kind of experienced love a bunch of times, so we kind of know what's coming. When you're so young and you're experiencing it all for the first time, it's kind of raw. And so we thought, 'That could be a really interesting perspective for the song.'"

David Foster, who has served as a mentor for Evancho even before she competed on America's Got Talent, has already given "Apocalypse" his seal of approval. "He was blown away by it," Evancho beams, "which is definitely a confidence booster, because David's been a part of my life since I started singing. ... He's like my music dad," she laughs. "So to have him tell me that is really, really encouraging."

For fans curious about Evancho's next pop songs, she offers this comparison: "When I sing, I think of Lana Del Rey, because my pop voice is kind of around her register; it's lower, and I like her music a lot." Zizzo, meanwhile, likens her new pop journey to that of a diva he's worked with before. "Think about someone like Celine Dion," he says. "Celine Dion started to have success in her native country when she was about Jackie's age. So I absolutely see Jackie on a trajectory like that, but in a different way. She's a very, very different singer than Celine, but I think she appeals to the same type of fans. What's also great about Jackie is there's never, ever a wrong time for a voice like Jackie. It's a trendless, trend-proof type of talent. I think she's on a great path right now."

Watch Celine Dion's Perfect Cover of Adele's 'Hello'

Mangini adds: "Music changes a lot, but a voice like Jackie's was relevant 30 years ago, and it'll be relevant 30 years from now. What she does is so beautiful, and there will always be an audience for it."

For Evancho's part, she just wants to keep making great music. "I'm not going to get rid of my classical voice, because that's my roots, that's what I love the most," she says. "But I do want to test out the contemporary side of my voice, because I've just discovered that I had it and it's really fun to experiment with. ... To me, there's really no limits to what I can do right now, because I really just want to see what's best for me. So I can't just put myself in one spot."

Hear more of our interview with Jackie Evancho on next week's Pop Shop Podcast.

--Additional reporting by Morgan Greenwald