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NY Post
New York Post
2 Sep 2023


NextImg:‘AGT’ child star Jackie Evancho makes comeback after struggle with fame

After struggling with an eating disorder and the pressures of fame, former child singing sensation Jackie Evancho is making a comeback — and this time it’s personal.

The “America’s Got Talent” star, and youngest ever solo artist to have a platinum record, is releasing a new single next week called “Behind My Eyes.”

But it’s not like the opera arias or classical songs that made her famous as a 10-year-old on “AGT.” Instead, the now-23-year-old is branching into alt-pop.

“I wrote the song about what it feels like to go crazy or to start losing touch with reality,” Jackie told The Post after her Daintree NYC photo shoot. “My songwriting these days touches upon mental illness and issues that are on the darker side, which will shock a lot of people who know me from before.”

By “before,” Jackie is referring to her whirlwind classical music career that started when she was 9. While her peers were riding bikes with their friends and complaining about homework, the Pittsburgh native was entering singing competitions and thrilling audiences with her sweet, golden voice.

In 2010, she came in second during Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent,” but won the hearts of America for her renditions of “O Mio Babbino Caro,” and “Time To Say Goodbye.”

Buoyed by her success, Jackie’s adolescent and teenage years were spent recording albums with super producers like David Foster, headlining concerts, meeting Oprah Winfrey (“Oprah’s a great hugger”), doing a duet with Barbra Streisand, appearing in a movie with Robert Redford (“The Company You Keep”) and, somewhat controversially, singing at Donald Trump’s 2017 Presidential inauguration.

And while performing the National Anthem was a bucket list moment for her, Jackie did face backlash for being part of Trump’s inauguration. As a teenager, she claims didn’t grasp the political implications of being a part of Trump’s orbit, when so many other artists said “No.”

“I said ‘Yes’ because I was singing for my country,” Jackie said. “But it hurt my career and it just sucks because, as a 16-year-old, I perceived it as an honor. And it’s kind of sad that still to this day, people don’t understand that.

Lamarque top, $475; shorts, $295; and Missoma hoop earrings, $136 at Revolve.com. Boots, $1,450 at Gucci.com.
Tamara Beckwith/NY POST
Jackie Evancho
Lamarque top, $475; shorts, $295; and Missoma hoop earrings, $136 at Revolve.com. Boots, $1,450 at Gucci.com.
Tamara Beckwith/NY POST

“Now that I’m older and able to vote, I probably would have passed on that opportunity.”

Furthermore, the “Dream With Me” singer revealed to The Post that her fast-paced childhood led to mental health issues and anorexia.

“Growing up in the spotlight, there was a lot of pressure,” Jackie said. “There were times that I would cry because I wanted to hang out with my siblings and friends and just be a kid, but I had to work.”

Her family, too, struggled with the pitfalls of fame in terms of dealing with a lack of privacy, safety issues, and unrealistic expectations of what success looked like.

Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho won America’s hearts on “America’s Got Talent” at 10, but later struggled with the pressures of fame and anorexia. Now 23, she’s making a healthy musical comeback. She posed for The Post at Daintree NYC. Bec + Bridge maxi dress, $420 at Revolve.com. Vintage Gucci shoes.
Tamara Beckwith/NY POST

Jackie Evancho on "America's Got Talent."
Jackie was just 10 when she charmed audiences on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010, landing as the show’s runner-up.
NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Jackie Evancho on "America's Got Talent"
Jackie sang songs such as “Ave Maria” and “Music of the Night” on “AGT.”
Getty Images

Another dark side of stardom was keeping up with her appearance. Jackie vividly remembers being 15 and thinking that her stomach looked fat.

“It triggered something in my head,” she admitted. “And from that point forward, I was trying to lose weight in any way possible. I tried the healthy way — slightly decreasing the caloric intake, working out, eating healthy — but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted quickly enough, and it just spiraled from there.”

In the full throes of anorexia, the “Two Hearts” singer would go days without eating.

“I felt like crap every day,” Jackie recalled. “I didn’t have any energy to keep up with my personal life and my work life. Eventually, I had to stop performing because I was in a treatment center. When I got out, things didn’t get better. And so, a few years later I went back to another treatment center.”

Jackie Evancho and Simon Cowell
With “America’s Got Talent” judge Simon Cowell.
Jackie Evancho / Twitter

Now she is sharing her story because she wants to help people who are similarly battling eating disorders. Especially since Jackie’s anorexia led to early osteoporosis: A 2021 car accident revealed she has the bones of an 80-year-old.

“I’m still fighting it and confronting it,” Jackie acknowledged. “I’m still being treated, and I have a therapist. There’s no shame in that. Humans are not perfect creatures. We need help. And I want to show people that is okay.”

As she’s working through these issues, part of her therapy is writing songs about her experiences — both good and bad.

“Get Out of My Life,” a song she’s been workshopping, is a prime example of her new agency.

“It’s about confronting all the people in my life who have put this pressure on me, or at least made me react by putting pressure on myself to be perfect,” Jackie said. “The song’s basically me saying, ‘I’ve had enough. I really tried, and I can’t keep doing it anymore, so get out of my life.’”

Jackie Evancho
Vintage Tom Ford corset. Chanel trousers, $4,400 for similar at Chanel.com. Earrings, $945 at GigiClozeau.com. Bracelet, $500 at Haleia.fr. Belt, $109 at AllSaints.com. Bootie, $595 at StuartWeitzman.com.
Tamara Beckwith/NY POST
Jackie Evancho
Vintage Tom Ford corset. Chanel trousers, $4,400 for similar at Chanel.com. Earrings, $945 at GigiClozeau.com. Bracelet, $500 at Haleia.fr. Belt, $109 at AllSaints.com. Bootie, $595 at StuartWeitzman.com.
Tamara Beckwith/NY POST

No longer the “perfect little girl,” Jackie has moved from Pittsburgh to Manhattan’s Upper West Side and is making her own decisions about her life and music.

“I didn’t even really know who I was musically because I’ve been doing the same thing since I was 10 years old,” Jackie, who performed with Andrea Bocelli in 2015, said. “So, I really dove deep and caught up with myself. And I found a new sound that is very genuine to me.”

Jackie is relaunching her singing career in a more holistic way with a new record label, Melody Place. She describes her 2.0 sound as “alt pop,” and her songs are deeply personal.

Jackie Evancho at the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010, alongside President Obama and Sara Bareilles.
Jackie sang at the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010, alongside President Obama and Sara Bareilles.
AP
Jacke Evancho singing at the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump
She also sang at the 2017 inauguration of President Trump.
Getty Images

So far, the reaction from her fans has been overwhelmingly positive. “The support has been great,” Jackie said. “It shows me how loyal of a fan base I have, and it makes me love them even more than I already did.”

Jackie is most proud of beating Michael Jackson’s reign as the youngest star on the Billboard charts with her “O Holy Night” EP (she was 10); Jackson had previously set the record at the age of 11.

As part of that journey, Jackie was mentored by legendary record producer David Foster.

Jackie Evancho
Vintage Givenchy jacket. Camila Coelho top, $128, and pants, $188, at Revolve.com. Chanel sandals, $1,375 at Chanel.com.
Tamara Beckwith/NY POST

“I used to say that he was my music father because I worked with him for so many years and grew up with him,” the three-time Billboard Top 10 chart topper said. “He really taught me that just because something’s good doesn’t mean you stop there. You can always achieve greatness.”

And while the two remain on good terms, Jackie said “their paths split” after Covid.

And, yes, Jackie still watches “AGT.”

“I’ll always be grateful for ‘America’s Got Talent’ and shows like that,” she said. “They definitely give talent an opportunity to be seen. Today, it’s a bit of a challenge for them because of TikTok and YouTube, but there are so many people who love these shows and watch them as part of their family tradition.”

Photos: Tamara Beckwith/NY Post; Stylist: Tricia Warren; Stylist Assistant: Devyn Warren; Hair/Makeup: Christina Turino; Location: Daintree, NYC