Memories of The PBS Filming at Longwood Gardens

CaptureRecently, I had the pleasure of attending the concert and taping of Jackie Evancho‘s third PBS special on location at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania on August 21, 2014.  This will have been the seventh Jackie Evancho concert that I have attended. Of all the concerts that I have attended, as spectacular as they have all been, I would have to say this was by far the most memorable.  The experience of seeing Jackie perform live is extraordinary in itself, but when you combine that with all the ambiance of a place like Longwood Gardens. plus the excitement of watching her PBS TV special being filmed live, it is almost overwhelming!  At first when I found out about this concert I wasn’t sure if I could attend.  My wife and I had already made plans to see Jackie at Chautauqua.  The late announcement of the PBS concert filming ended up being two weeks after the concert at Chautauqua.  The drive to Longwood would only be about 7 hours, so I knew that this was about as good as it gets to witness the recording of a Jackie Evancho PBS special.  It was an opportunity that I could not pass up.  I purchased two tickets for my wife and I.  Unfortunately, a few weeks later my wife realized that she had a schedule conflict on the day of the concert and could not attend.  So, I decided to go to the concert solo even though I really wanted to have my wife go with me too.  I know she would have loved to see it.

As with any Jackie Evancho concert, the anticipation leading up to the event is almost as exciting as the actual concert itself.  However, the time leading up to this concert also presented some anxiety.  Being that this was an open-air outdoor concert, the threat of bad weather was a major concern.  The weather forecast for the day of the concert did not look good at all.  The chance of rain was very strong (80 to 90 percent).  There was a rain date schedule for August 22nd, but that day didn’t look much better.  The weather forecast for the entire week of the concert was very poor, and the actual day of the concert was looking like the worst weather day of the week.  It would be so heartbreaking if this wonderful concert was hampered by bad weather.  The only thing I could do was pray that somehow God would shield the area from the impending rain.

On the morning of August 20th,I departed on the 7 hour drive to Longwood.  I decided to leave a day before the concert so that I would not have any stress or anxiety about trying to get to the concert on time.  The morning that I departed from Ohio, the weather was very bad.  There was a heavy rain falling.  Typically Ohio weather moves eastward, so it didn’t look good for the Longwood area in eastern PA.    I was driving in rain for about an hour, when it suddenly cleared up.  I probably got ahead of the rain and it was now chasing me across PA.  I continued to pray as I drove in hopes that the weather situation would improve.  About 100 miles from Longwood, it started to rain heavily again, however once I reached my hotel the skies were sunny and there was no rain in sight.  I was really worried though that the rain was on its way.

The next day, the weather was overcast, but no rain.  Temperatures were in the 80s with very high humidity (about 80 – 90 percent).  As long as it didn’t rain, then I was OK with the humidity.  I made my way over to Longwood Gardens around 11:00 am to tour the grounds before the concert.  My hotel was about 10 miles away, so I decided to wear my concert attire there and just try my best to stay cool.  It was very hot and humid, but I wanted to tour the grounds.  I must say that it is a beautiful place.  The gardens, flowers, fountains and overall scenery are pristine.  It is an incredible location for Jackie to do her PBS special.  Very good choice by whoever made the decision to film there.  One of the most impressive areas that I saw were some of the sections of the indoor conservatory.

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Later during the day, I  heard that Jackie had a filming session in the ballroom in that area, as well as various other surrounding gardens near the conservatory.  Unfortunately, I missed a filming of Jackie that occurred just moments after I left the conservatory area.  By the time I had heard about it and started heading back there, the session was over.  Oh well, story of my life.  By mid -afternoon, many of Jackie’s fans were getting together at the Longwood Cafe for lunch and to socialize before the concert.  There were fans who came from Russia, France, Germany, and the UK as well as many fans from all over the United States.  Jackie has a very loyal fan following, and I must say they are all very nice and generous people.  Many fan-made custom Jackie buttons were given out and everyone was sharing their thoughts about Jackie and the upcoming concert.  The atmosphere was electric!

Around 4:00 pm many fans  started gathering around the blocked off entrance to the stage area.  The tickets for the concert were unreserved, so some of us die-hard fans wanted to get to the head of the line so that we could get good seats.  At 4:30, the gates would open, but not where we thought.  An usher indicated the line would form just down the path from where we were standing.  Myself and several other fans immediately headed in the direction indicated by the usher, and through some miracle, we were at the head of the line – I was about the 4th person in line.   We would still have to wait there in the sweltering humid heat for two hours before they would let us into the theater area at 6:30.  The weather forecast was still very iffy around that time.  The forecast still showed a 90% chance of rain and the weather radar on my phone showed a very large cell headed our way.  I kept saying to myself, “Please God, hold off this rain just until the concert is over!”  So far, so good!

At a little past 6:30, we were permitted to enter the theater area.  Being at the head of the line, I thought we would get very good seats.  I did not expect to get real close to the front because I suspected that some seats would be reserved.  I expected to get within at least the first 10 rows.  Unfortunately as we entered the theater, one of the ushers told us to start sitting in the back of the theater.  What’s with that?  First in line yet we are to sit in the back!?  Understandably we were a bit upset!  I didn’t want to make a scene, but it was troubling.  Suddenly I looked over and all the people who were way behind us in line were streaming to the front of the theater to get the unreserved closer seats.  I decided to do the same, but by then it was too late.  There was some confusion as to what was going on.  As it turns out, I ended up in about the 20th row and could see many people who were way back behind me in line within the first 10 rows.  I still ended up in a fairly good seat so I shouldn’t complain, but the process for handling the seating by the ushers was not one of the highlights of the day.

The theater area looked like a wonderland of beauty.  The stage was adorned with a multitude of flowers and plants.  There were large camera booms, teleprompters, video cameras, and lighting systems in place.  It all looked amazing!  I felt like I was in another world.  I could hardly contain the excitement I was feeling.  Right in front of me was this magnificent stage that looked like a flowering paradise.  There were several levels to the stage and towards the back were large fountains that would spray huge plumes of water.  The lighting was incredible as it glistened off all of the plants and flowers – highlighting all the nuances of the greenery.

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The concert was scheduled to start around 7:30, but ended up starting about 15 minutes late.  The producer of the show gave the audience a few instructions on how the evening would progress.  This would not be a typical concert.  There may be some re-takes, and some audience shots by the cameras.  That was to be expected.  Personally, I couldn’t be happier to hear Jackie sing a song more than once, so bring on the re-takes!  The MC of the show was also Jackie’s duet partner for a couple of songs.  His name was Cheyenne Jackson.  He is a prominent Broadway singer and actor.  He would sing two duets with Jackie –  “Think of Me” and “Say Something.”   The following is the complete set list with a few of my comments on some of the songs.  The song list is from Jackie’s new CD titled “Awakening” that will be released this September 23rd.

Act #1:

  • Think Of Me – This was performed as a duet with Cheyenne.  I was surprised that this was a duet, since the single of Think Of Me was just released with Jackie singing it solo.  There were some whimsical lyrics that Cheyenne used that were not part of the original Phantom of the Opera song that this came from.
  • Your Love – Currently, I would have to say this was my favorite song of the night.  This song is a a beautiful vocalized version of the song from the movie “Once Upon a Time In the West”
  • Je T’aime – This song is a remake of the same song made popular by Lara Fabian.  I must say that after hearing Jackie sing it, I think Lara may have some competition.  I was not a real big fan of this song until I heard Jackie sing it.  Now it is one of my favorites of the concert.
  • Made To Dream – This is a new song that I believe was specifically written for Jackie.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much about this one.
  • O Mio Babinno Caro  – Jackie commented on this song and eluded to the fact that this is her signature song that she wanted to include on all her concerts.  It is the song that made her famous on her debut at America’s Got Talent.

Act #2:

  • Say Something (duet) – Jackie and Cheyenne sang this song beautifully.  The song originated from  Ian Axel
  • Ave Maria – This is the Caccini version.  I will have to say this is another one of my top favorite songs on the concert.  Jackie sang this song in such a heavenly way, all I could do was look up at the sky and reflect on the magnificence of the moment.
  • Rains of Castamere – This song has been released as a single from the TV show Game of Thrones.  We were treated to two performances of this song due to a retake.
  • Vocalise – This is the song composed by Rachmaninoff.  Probably the most difficult song for Jackie to sing.  However, she sang it effortlessly and I was amazed at how incredible she did on it.  Two ballerinas danced to this piece while Jackie sang.  It was very elegant.   Because of a slight wardrobe issue with one of the ballerinas, Jackie was asked to sing it one more time so that the TV producer could get the shot right.  I thought about how hard it must be to have to sing that song again, and yet Jackie sang it again perfectly.
  • Open Fields Of Grace – This was a very tranquil song that gave me visions of walking through Longwood Gardens and marveling at all of the marvelous scenery there.  I believe there was a segue to a part of Longwood that may be on the DVD of the concert when it is released.  I guess we will know for sure when the DVD comes out.

Act #3:

  • Take Me There – This was actually supposed to be the concluding piece on the show, but they wanted to get it in soon just in case the weather didn’t hold out and because it was getting late.  I believe this song was another original song for Jackie.  It had more of an upbeat tempo and a bit more on the pop side.  I could see this song possibly getting radio air-play.  I loved it!
  • With or Without You  – This is the song by the group U2.  I will have to say that although Jackie sang it great, it is probably not my most favorite song, but according to Jackie her Dad likes it a lot.
  • My Immortal – This is the song by Evanescence.   Jackie surprised us all by coming out and playing the piano for this while she sang the first half of the song.  I was impressed at how well she did since I have never seen her play piano before.  She did an outstanding job singing and playing.  Part way through the piece she transitioned from the piano to sing at center stage as someone took over the piano part for the remainder of the song.
  • Memories – Another beautiful song that may be an original as well.  I don’t recall ever hearing this song before.  And no, it is not the song from Cats.
  • Dormi Jesu – Another very challenging song for Jackie to sing.  Yet, it was outstanding!  Another one of my top favorite songs of the evening.

The song list was the right balance between classical and pop songs as is typical in the Classical Crossover genre that Jackie sings.  It has some reminiscence of her very successful Dream With Me CD, only that Jackie has turned it up a notch.  She is older now and much more powerful with her voice.  Yet, she still maintains the warmth and purity to her vocals that trigger tears to flow from listening to her sing.  With all that, Jackie still maintains a relaxed and whimsical demeanor on stage.  She joked around with the audience at times and was very fun to watch as she would occasionally jump and skip on stage – still preserving some of those little-girl moments as she transitions to being a young woman.  In the past 4 years I have seen Jackie progress from a very talented 10 year-old little girl to a 14 year-old superstar who is cherished and admired by many.  She continues to get better and better as the years progress.  Her new CD is going to be epic and I hope that anyone reading this blog will get a copy when it comes out on September 23rd.

Ironically, it never did rain during the concert.  The rain held off until we were exiting the theater after the concert had ended.  Just then, a soft drizzle of rain fell from the skies.  It was almost as if the angels were weeping for joy from what they had just heard too.  God did indeed answer our prayers.

You can pre-order Jackie’s new CD titled “Awakening” at the link below:

http://www.jackieevancho.com/awakening

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An evening with Jackie Evancho at Chautauqua

My wife and I had the good fortune of attending the Jackie Evancho concert this past Friday (8/8/14) at the Chautauqua Institute concert hall.  The following blog post is a report of my experience attending the concert.

We started the 3 hour drive to Chautauqua, NY on the day of the concert, arriving at the Chautauqua Suites hotel around 1:00 pm.  Right away we met several Jackie Evancho fans.  Even though none of us have met personally before, it felt like we knew each other well because of the connection that we have to Jackie Evancho’s fan club and various online forums.  Soon more Jackie fans showed up in the lobby and we had a lot of pleasant conversations about our common bond to Jackie Evancho.  The location of the hotel was only about a mile from Andriaccios restaurant, where we would have the traditional fan gathering that takes place before Jackie concerts.  My wife and I couldn’t check into our hotel until 3:00 pm, so we decided to drive to the 2:00 pm fan gathering, stay there for about an hour or so, and then drive back to the hotel to check-in and change into our concert attire.  When we arrived at the fan gathering it was wonderful to see so many excited fans.  About 25 of us showed up for the gathering.  There were even a few fans who came from outside the US to see the concert.  One fan came from Germany and two others came from the United Kingdom just to see Jackie perform.  Now that is dedication!  It was a pleasure to meet them and to talk with him.  It truly amazes me that people would travel that far to see Jackie sing, but at the same time realizing just how special it is that I only had about a three-hour drive to see Jackie.  It made me realize just how lucky I am that I didn’t have to travel that far for the Chautauqua concert.  The people from outside of the US have my utmost respect for their dedication to Jackie.  They are really wonderful fans as are all of Jackie’s fans.

After my wife and I returned to the hotel to check-in, we drove to the Chautauqua grounds just a bit before 4:00pm. Our concert tickets included the gate fee to get in to the grounds at 4:00pm. So that worked out really well. I had a parking ticket to park in the main parking lot right across from the entrance to Chautauqua. The parking lot was huge and we circled for a while trying to find a place to park. I was amazed at how full the lot was! Were all these cars there just for the Jackie concert? We were getting a bit worried that we may not get good seats if that many people were there already. We had to drive all the way to the back overflow lot to park. Luckily there was a shuttle service that would shuttle people in from the parking lot right up to the main gate. This was the first time we had ever been to Chautauqua. The grounds are very picturesque. It is a quaint vacation village of sorts with cottages, shops, and beautiful flower gardens. Lots of nice people too. It was a very scenic and family friendly environment. We really enjoyed walking around the place, but our first priority was to locate the concert hall to scope it out and see how many people were waiting to get in. We really didn’t know what to expect as far as how hard it would be to get good seats since they were first-come-first-serve. We did have the seating upgrade option, but it included a rather large section. We wanted to get within the first several rows if possible. Turns out our fears were unnecessary. We were there with plenty of time to spare. No lines were forming just yet.

The concert hall is an open-air venue with a roof on top.  The seats were similar to pews that you would find in a church. Many of us fans were gathered before the concert around the side of the venue and we could see directly into the hall.  The orchestra was rehearsing and at some point we knew that Jackie would probably come out to rehearse with them.  My wife and I walked around the concert hall towards the back and we saw where Jackie’s tour bus was parked.  There was no sign of Jackie or her family.  The backstage area of the theater was fairly exposed.  We could see people milling around behind the stage, but once again there was no sign of anyone familiar on Jackie’s team.  My wife and I strolled around a little more to take in the sights of the surroundings.  The lake was situated behind the concert hall so we strolled down there to take in the view.  I guess someone had spotted the Evancho kids playing on the hillside near there, but my wife and I didn’t see them;  Thus, I cannot confirm or deny that sighting.  Later we walked up to the hall to make sure that a crowd wasn’t forming around the venue.  Soon, we heard the familiar voice of Jackie rehearsing the song “Imaginer” with the orchestra.  It was a bit hard to see her because the sun was bright and the stage was shadowed.  We could see that there were several kids who hopped up on stage with Jackie and then surrounded her while she sang.  It appeared as though some of the kids were Jackie’s siblings (Jacob, Zachary, and Rachel), plus a couple of other kids too.  It appeared as though they were maybe trying to shield Jackie from being video recorded.  Jackie’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers and could be heard throughout the area as she sang.  She sounded wonderful!  I will say that it was very exciting to be able to witness the rehearsal.  The last time I had seen Jackie rehearse was in Pittsburgh back in 2011 as part of the VIP M&G package.  So this was a real treat in itself!

A few people were starting to form a line at around 6:30 pm, so we staked out our spot in line at the entrance near the front of the stage.  We had quite a bit of time to kill before we would get let into the hall at around 7:30 pm.  My wife and I were standing in line with two ladies in front of us who had never been to a Jackie concert before.  They remembered her from America’s Got Talent (AGT) and they thought it would be nice to see her perform.  Of course, I gave them the whole rundown of Jackie and all the history behind these past several years that followed AGT.  I told them that they were in for one of the best concert experiences ever.  Another man walked over from one of the cottages across from the venue and asked us what was going on at the concert hall tonight.  He was amazed at how many people were starting to form around the concert hall.  He asked me, “Was there some big-name show that night?”  I asked him if he had heard of Jackie Evancho.  He replied, “Who is that?”  I then asked him if he ever watched America’s Got Talent.  He replied, “Never heard of it.”  At that point I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was up to the challenge.  I proceeded to tell him all about Jackie and the history behind her tremendous voice.  He became interested rather quickly and said that he and his family would listen to the concert from their front porch, which had a direct view of the stage.  It would have been interesting to have been able to speak with them after the concert to see their reaction.

As 7:30 pm approached, the gates to the concert hall opened.  We entered and gingerly stepped down some steep inclines to get to the front rows of the theater.  It wasn’t a mad scramble, but we had to act quickly to get good seats.  The first two rows filled up fast, but the 3rd row was open just to the left of the podium.  That was my preferred location anyhow.  Jackie would be directly in front of us.  You can’t ask for better than that!  The concert hall started to fill rapidly and soon it became apparent that this crowd was going to be BIG!  We asked one of the ushers about the capacity of the hall.  She said it could hold approximately 5000, not including the overflow seats or the seats above and behind the stage.  Not only did the venue fill up to capacity, but so did the overflow seats and several seats in the area behind the stage.  By 8:00 pm, the concert hall was packed and we still had 15 minutes to go before the start of the show.  This was a much larger crowd than I had ever seen at a solo concert by Jackie.  I noticed that some kids came out from behind stage with the unmistakable Meet and Greet (M&G) badges.  It looked as though there may have been a private M&G for those kids.  I am sure it was a thrill for them to get to meet Jackie.  I can certainly attest to that from past experiences meeting her.

Soon the show would begin.  The orchestra seemed a bit small compared to other concerts that I have been to, but it may have just been how I perceived it.  It was hard to tell where Jackie would be entering the stage.  There was a door on each side of the stage and one in the center behind the stage.  When Jackie’s conductor John Mario came in, he entered in the center door at the rear of the stage. That is also where Jackie would come in after the orchestra opened with “Cavalleria Rusticana” which is the perfect setup piece for her.  Jackie was wearing her beautiful turquoise dress and she looked fabulous!  She informed the audience that she loved the dress because it made her feel like a superstar and that it reminded her of a dress in the movie Frozen.  Unfortunately there were strict rules at this concert about taking photos or videos, so I kept in-line with the rules and did not get any videos or pictures.  Jackie opened the concert with the familiar song “When You Wish Upon A Star.”  I will admit that before the concert started I was a bit disappointed that no new songs from her upcoming Awakening CD (due to be released this September 23rd, 2014) would be performed based on what was reported from her previous concert in Portsmouth just two days earlier.  However, once I heard Jackie start to sing, I realized that it didn’t matter.  Just hearing that marvelous voice live again meant the world to me and it re-invigorated my love for her music.  Besides, I will be attending her upcoming PBS concert filming at Longwood Gardens in the next two weeks (August 21st, 2014) where new songs will be performed.

Now, about the Chautauqua concert itself. I will admit that Jackie probably did not have her “A” game on a couple of songs. She sort of had a brain blank-out when she sang Some Enchanted Evening when she missed an entrance on one of the verses.  She got a little flustered and said something like, “Sorry, this happens all the time.”  She did recover and finished the song as any true professional would.  We in the front rows gave her a standing ovation for support.  In my personal opinion, since Jackie has done so many flawless performances, she has earned the right to several mulligans here and there.  No big deal if you ask me.  All performers make mistakes.   I know that I have made many myself.  The only advice I would give Jackie is to not let your audience know when it happens.  In the second half, there was one other slight miscue in the song Lovers, but that was much less obvious.  I don’t want to make a big deal over this, but I just wanted to mention it to be thorough in my report.  One song that really hit me emotionally was The Lord’s Prayer.  Because Chautauqua is primarily a Christian community, and knowing that probably the majority of the audience had probably heard that song sung by other singers countless times, I couldn’t help but wonder what the residents must have thought when Jackie sang it.  I know I have never heard anyone sing The Lord’s Prayer as beautifully as Jackie.  The moment she sang it I could feel the usual uncontrollable tears welling up in my eyes. I know how much this song means to me and likely meant to the community there as well.  I also think it means a lot to Jackie too.

Soon it was intermission – the time to talk with people around me to see what they thought about the concert so far.  One gentleman who sat directly behind me had never seen Jackie before and was totally in awe at what he heard in the first half.  He told me that after hearing her sing he couldn’t believe what he was witnessing.  He said he entered the concert hall with a bit of skepticism, but now he understands why she has such a faithful fan following.  Many people during intermission told us how they were impressed that Jackie’s fans were so faithful to her and how much they admired the appreciation that we showed her.

Soon the second half would start. Jackie opened with the song “Lovers,” and aside from the slight miscue at the beginning that I mentioned earlier, she was terrific!  She wore a beautiful cream-colored dress that glistened in the spotlights.  As the second half went on, it was almost as if Jackie’s voice was getting more confident and stronger.  The closer we got to the end of the second half, the more her voice seemed to be on fire!  Her high notes and low notes (as well as the notes in-between) were outstanding!  So pure, and yet so powerful!  When she got to the last piece (The Impossible Dream), she dedicated it to her mother (Lisa), saying how much she loved her and that she was the best mom.  Kudos to Lisa for sacrificing so much so that Jackie can live out “The Impossible Dream.”  Also, Jackie dedicated the song “What a Wonderful World” to her father (Mike) during the first half of the concert.  She indicated that the song means a lot to him and that it makes him cry, but that they are tears of joy.  Don’t worry Mike, it happens to the best of us.  Jackie finished with two encores (O Mio Babino Cairo and Music of The Night). Both songs were extraordinary!  You could tell that Jackie’s voice was really running on full throttle during those songs.  Her confidence was rock solid in the second half and it seemed almost as if her voice became stronger at the end of the concert and  that she probably would have continued singing if there was more music on the set list.

In between songs, Jackie was very jovial with the audience.  One thing that she kept mentioning was that she saw a spider (either backstage or on stage – not sure).  She kept mentioning the spider between songs and said that it had a beautiful web, however she was also very afraid of spiders.  One person close to the front said she should squish it, and she said, “Oh no I could never do that, the spider is my new pet named Chico!”  It was funny how she made light banter with the audience at times.  The comment was also true to form in regards to her respect for all living things, even spiders that frighten her.  Jackie also seemed very attentive to someone on her left in the front.  I couldn’t tell for sure who it was, but Jackie smiled and waved in that direction a few times.  I was told that there was a little girl sitting there with a Jackie doll, but I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting.

After the concert, many of us fans gathered at the Chautauqua Suites hotel bar to have our post-concert recap.  We talked until after 1:00 am about all of our Jackie fan experiences.  It is really great to be in a room with a people who have that common bond that Jackie helped us to form.  I truly loved every minute of the day and cannot wait until the next concert and PBS taping of Awakening at Longwood Gardens on August 21st, 2014.  I will be there and will provide another blog post of that concert experience as well.

You can pre-order Jackie’s upcoming Awakening CD at the following link:

http://www.jackieevancho.com/awakening

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Honoring Memorial Day

Once again, Jackie Evancho was invited to sing at our Nation’s Capital.  This time, she has performed for the 2014 PBS Memorial Day concert.  It is becoming apparent that Jackie is the go-to performer for many of our country’s treasured events.  Jackie is no stranger to singing at national events similar to this concert.  Last year she also sang at the Washington DC Capitol Fourth Independence Day celebration.  In addition, she has been a guest singer for the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012, and the National Christmas Tree Lighting in 2010.  She has truly become America’s Sweetheart.  For this past Memorial Day, Jackie’s voice was the perfect complement to sing in a tribute concert for the fallen soldiers who gave their lives in service of our country.

Prior to the concert  Jackie treated her fans to a few tweets at the rehearsal and also before she went out on stage for the concert.

 

 

@PBS put out a small video clip tweet containing a message that Jackie gave to our troops:

The actual video clip with audio can be viewed by clicking here.

Photos of Jackie prior to rehearsal and at the concert were also available through Zimbio.  Here are some of my favorites:

Additional photos can be viewed using the link below:

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Jackie+Evancho/25th+National+Memorial+Day+Concert/sK7TlNzMltr

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend this concert, but I did get to see the live TV broadcast of it on my local PBS station.  Myself and several dedicated fans of Jackie had assembled in a chat room to share our enthusiasm and commentary on Jackie’s performance while watching it live.  Some fans from out of the country were able to find a video stream feed on the internet, so everything worked out for all of us to share our pride and admiration for Jackie.

Some fans have observed that Jackie was singing in a lower range than usual, especially for the song “Somewhere”, which she performed as a live solo for the first time.  Jackie had done a previous version of this song on her Dream With Me CD as a dubbed duet with Barbra Streisand back in 2011.  On that recording Jackie sang in a higher range.  Personally, I feel that it is a bit unfair to compare Jackie’s 14 year-old voice to her voice at age 10.  Yes, Jackie’s voice has changed since she recorded her Dream With Me CD at a younger age.  Although her present vocals seems s bit lower now, I feel as though her voice still has a very emotional impact.  Jackie may not have the experience of a seasoned adult singer, but she affects people emotionally in ways that many seasoned adult singers strive to achieve, but fall short.  This is evident by the comments below, which are part of the many reasons why I continue to admire Jackie Evancho.

As Jackie was finishing her song “My Heart Will Go On”…among 304 Veterans Gathered, someone in the Audience stood up and Shouted…”This is why we did it, This is why!. God Love you Jackie, God Love you!”…The cameo at the end set a rousing Cheer among all who were here…  Said one Iraq Veteran, “Jackie Evancho saved my life. I wanted to Die, but she wouldn’t let me. She didn’t sing at me, she sang TO me”.

 And now, here are videos of Jackie’s performances for the Memorial Day concert:

 

 

My Jackie concert experience at Detroit

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I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed attending the Jackie Evancho concert in Detroit this past Sunday (April 13, 2014).  This concert will have been the 5th time that I had the privilege of seeing Jackie Evancho perform live in concert.  All week the excitement about going to this concert was building up.  When the day of the concert finally arrived, I was bursting with anticipation.  I knew that this day was going to be fantastic!  After-all, I was going to see Jackie Evancho perform live at the Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan.  For me, attending a Jackie concert is an experience wrapped in many other experiences.  There are so many wonderful things that occurred on that day and I cherish each and every one of them.

So, without further ado, here is my account of the day… I departed for Detroit on Sunday, April 13th, 2014 – the day of the concert.  My 3.5 hour drive to Detroit was very tranquil as I listened to several Jackie CDs to prep me for the concert.  The weather was great!  It was warm, some clouds with temps in the 70s.  The weather was a welcome sight considering the harsh weather that we had been experiencing earlier in the week.  Traffic was mild.  I arrived at 2:00pm at the hotel where most of Jackie’s fans had arranged to stay.  I knew that if there were Jackie fans within eye-shot of me that I would soon be recognized as a fan because I was wearing my Jackie Evancho t-shirt.  I was right.  Immediately I was approached by several Jackie fans who recognized me.  I was unable to check-in to the hotel right away, so I hung out in the lobby and talked with a few fans.  It took awhile for some of us to connect and determine how we knew each other.  Most of us have only had conversations online and have never met personally.  That would all change today.  We would now be able to tie in the faces to the screen names and have real one-on-one conversations.  Personally, I believe that you can never really know what a person is like based on what you see in the text that they post.  You have to meet them, talk with them, and get to know them.  I must say that I met some really nice people.  It is so gratifying to be able to have actual face-to-face conversations with others who “get it” when it comes to Jackie.  Jackie fans come from all walks of life with various diverse backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common, and that is our love and appreciation of Jackie.  It is that common bond that joins us as a fan community of some really caring people who understand each other well.  It is very special! 

Soon my hotel room would be ready, so I checked-in, got cleaned up and changed into my concert attire.  Around 3:15pm we started gathering in the lobby again.  Transportation was arranged for several cabs to take us to the restaurant where approximately 50 fans had planned to meet before the concert.  As we were waiting in the lobby, in walks a man who just arrived from France to see Jackie perform.  We were all pleasantly surprised to see him!  He made a last-minute decision the day before to go to the concert.  So, he hopped on a plane and here he was.  I also believe it was his first time in the US.  Now that is some real dedication if you ask me!  He was so excited to meet other fans and get his picture taken with us.

Pre-concert Fan Gathering

Soon, the cabs had arrived to take us to the Rub BBQ Pub where we would enjoy a delicious meal and each other’s company prior to going to the concert.  The restaurant had the whole upstairs reserved for all the fans.  It was a great space for all of us to meet!  There was a lot of fellowship and Jackie discussion going on.  As is customary at Jackie fan gatherings there were plenty of Jackie buttons handed out.  The staff was very friendly and they even allowed Jackie’s music to be played over the speakers in the restaurant.  Speeches were given and blessings were made.  It was a great time had by all!  

At around 6:00, we started to make our way to the Fox theater.  It was only a short walk from the restaurant.  The weather was very pleasant.  Although there are some depressed areas of Detroit, the part of the city where we were at was fairly nice.  As we walked toward the theater we could see Jackie’s name on the marquee.  I stayed outside with a few well-known Jackie fans to enjoy the weather and to talk with others who were arriving at the concert.  People would ask us where we got our Jackie buttons.  We told them that it was common for Jackie fan club members to gather before the concert and exchange buttons.  As I was talking with a fan and her 99 year-old grandmother, a little girl (about 11 or 12 years old) with her mom and dad approached us and asked about our buttons.  I had an extra button and gave it to her.  Then, the fan I was with told them that she had an extra ticket for 4th row and wanted to know if they wanted it.  The father was a bit taken back by the offer.  I think he thought she was trying to scalp the ticket.  He said he couldn’t afford a ticket that close to the stage (thinking that it had a high price).  I told him that maybe he misunderstood that the ticket was being offered for free (which I knew was the case).  He then realized that she really was giving it to them if they wanted it.  The daughter really was excited about sitting that close, but unfortunately it was only one ticket.  I told them not to worry because I was sure that there would probably be someone who had extra closer tickets too.  Jackie fans are known for their generosity and acts of kindness where they will upgrade someone to a prime seat for no charge if they have extra tickets.  Turns out her whole family was able to get within the Pit section within the first 4 rows thanks to a another generous fan who did have extra tickets.  So it all worked out.

Concert

The initial impression I got when entering the Fox Theater was pure amazement of its beauty!  The theater is very ornate with intricate details everywhere you look.  A very elegant setting to showcase the elegant music that Jackie Evancho sings.  My seat was in the second row facing the violin section of the orchestra.  It is at this moment when the anticipation starts to really kick into high gear.  Holy cow!  I am really here and I am going to see Jackie perform live again!  This is when you just hope that time slows down so that you can take it all in and relish every moment that you can possibly experience.  Soon the concertmaster would tune the orchestra, the lights would dim, and the concert was ready to start.  As is typical with Jackie concerts, the orchestra played an opening piece (“Cavalaria Rusticana”) to set the mood.  It is a beautiful piece and is very fitting for the occasion.  After the opening orchestral overture was played, we would soon hear the familiar introduction to “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Jackie’s Dream With Me CD.  Then…, out she comes in a gorgeous red dress.  The first thing I noticed is how much she has grown up (just turning 14) since I saw her last year (2013) in Cleveland.  Her hair is much fuller and longer.  She seems taller (although she was wearing heels).  The child-like look that she once had is gone.  The little girl has been replaced by a young lady.  I also noticed that Jackie’s demeanor is more reserved and less animated.  She also appears to be much more serious and focused, which typically would occur when she was singing a song, but now present even before and after she sings.  I dare say that she now has the look of a diva – very confident, and in-charge.  From a vocal perspective, Jackie seems to have a deeper and rounder tone quality.  As always, she pours her emotions into the music and draws the audience in to savor each and every note she sings.  Occasionally Jackie will slowly walk the stage while she sings, going to each side of the stage to allow the audience to experience her from all angles.  Thankfully, non-flash photography was allowed during this performance, so I was able to get some pictures with my camera when Jackie came to my side of the stage.  I was about 7 feet away from her at times so I was able to get some really good shots.  Most of the time she sings with her eyes closed.  Nothing seems to bother Jackie when she is in the zone – not even a few pops from an errant amplifier fazed her.  She is solid as a rock when she is on stage.  I am also very impressed at how well the conductor (John Mario Di Costanzo) keeps the orchestra in-sync with Jackie.  Jackie takes some liberties with tempo at times; yet John Mario is able to keep the orchestra right with her and rarely does he even need to look back at her for confirmation.  There is definitely a good bond between conductor and soloist.  I know from experience that this is not easy for a conductor to do, but that is why he is where he is.  It is also very important that the orchestra members are disciplined enough to watch the conductor.  The orchestra was superb at this (considering they were likely a pick-up orchestra).  They sounded wonderful!  There were a few times where the orchestra was a little overpowering, but nothing considerable.  It seemed like in the first half of the concert  the audience applause was appreciative, but subdued.  Jackie received a standing ovation for a couple of songs (Angel and The Lord’s Prayer).  She also dedicated the song “What a Wonderful World” to her father Mike Evancho, saying that the song would bring tears to his eyes.  Jackie jokingly said something to the extent that she thought it was funny that her tough-guy Dad would get tears when he heard the song.  I’m guessing it is very special to him.

Soon it was intermission. The first half of the concert seemed to go by rather quickly, but time flies when you are having fun.  It is at this moment that the sinking feeling hits when you realize that the concert is already half over!  I had noticed that there were a few empty seats in the front row that had not been occupied for the entire first half of the concert.  I looked back from my second row seat to see where the little girl (whom was upgraded from the balcony) was sitting.  She was two rows back from where I sat.  I walked over to her and her father and told them that the front row seats were not in-use and hinted that if they wanted to upgrade again, the opportunity was there.  The little girl wasn’t sure, but the father told her that if someone wanted the seats that she could always go back to her other seat.  It didn’t take too much convincing for her to go in the front row.  The father and mother stayed back in their seats, even though there was room for all of them in the front row.  I think they were too modest to move again since they had already been upgraded from the balcony.  There is more to this story later.

Time for the second half.  Jackie came out wearing  a beautiful cream-colored dress with bright sparkling sequins.   She looked fabulous!  This dress was slightly reminiscent of a similar maroon-colored dress she wore last year that got the nickname of “The Dress” because of how stunning it was.  The new cream-colored dress was equally stunning if you ask me.  It glistened when the spotlights hit it.  Jackie seemed to be a bit more relaxed and showed more of a lighter personality than in the first half.  The audience was also much more engaged in the second half.  There were several standing ovations and more people shouting out words of appreciation and encouragement.  A few shouts of, “We love you Jackie” with Jackie replying, “I love you too!”  Jackie dedicated the song Impossible Dream to her mother, Lisa Evancho.  She also dedicated the song “My Heart Will Go On” to her fans.  When Jackie sang her last piece, the applause was loud and people were exuberantly cheering. We were treated to two encores of “O Mio Babbino Caro” and “Music of The Night.”  Remember the little girl who was upgraded to the front row?  Well, she received a special treat.  When Jackie was exiting the stage after her first encore, she walked up to the end of the stage and gave the little girl in the front row a big high-five.  The little girl was so thrilled!  It was a “feel good” moment to see Jackie show attention to a younger fan like that.  I have no doubt that Jackie made that little girl’s day.  That little girl started out with balcony seats, then was upgraded to the 4th row, then the 1st row, and topped it off with a high-five from Jackie.  I’d say she got a pretty good experience!

Post-concert

After the concert, a group of fans and I walked back to the hotel.  It was a beautiful night and I think most of us probably didn’t even feel the ground beneath our feet because we were floating from the experience of the concert; at least I know I was.  When we got back to the hotel, several fans were already there socializing at the hotel bar.  I joined them and talked until the bar closed at around 11.  Even after the bar closed, we hung out in the hallways talking up Jackie and sharing more stories until way past midnight.  We didn’t want the day to end.

All-in-all, I had a wonderful time.  I met many fans and got to see Jackie perform live once again.  I can now say that I have seen Jackie perform live when she was at the age of 11, 12, 13, and now 14.  So far it has been quite a ride!  I can’t wait until the opportunity comes about for the next concert.

2013 – A year in review

Another year has gone by and it is time to reflect on my experiences of being a fan of Jackie Evancho.  As you can see from the map below, Jackie has been quite busy again this past year, as has been the case for the past 3 years.  Although Jackie maintains a fairly busy schedule, her parents and management team still seem to maintain a very balanced coordination between home-life and Jackie’s career.

Known Jackie Evancho Performance Locations – 2013

This past year (2013) was very special to me as a Jackie fan because I was able to attend two of her concerts (Pittsburgh and Cleveland) after being unable to attend a single concert in 2012.  It was a big thrill for me to not only have seats within the first 3 rows for both of these concerts, but to also have the opportunity to meet Jackie again at both of them (thanks to the generosity of another Jackie fan).  One of the concerts I attended (Cleveland) almost didn’t happen.  The Cleveland concert was originally scheduled for May 16th, but for reasons unknown the sold-out concert was cancelled.  Thankfully, the concert was re-scheduled for June 7th.  Luckily, I narrowly missed having a conflict with family vacation plans with the re-scheduled date.  It was a big thrill to have Jackie give a concert in my home state of Ohio.  The Cleveland Palace Theater was only about 100 miles from where I live, so it was great to have Jackie sing at a venue that was so close.  The Cleveland concert was probably one of the best performances that I have seen.  Her vocal maturity and control was exceptional.  Jackie charmed the crowd as usual and it was a pleasure to see her perform in such a gorgeous venue.

Unfortunately, there was no video recording of Jackie performing at this concert because it was strictly forbidden.  However, another very good fan of Jackie put together a video that commemorated the day leading up to the concert.  I was a part of many of the clips shown in this video and it really helps me to recall the many fond memories that I had of the day.

Although I must say that the Cleveland concert was probably the biggest highlight of the year for me, there are other additional events that were also quite significant.  Here is a review of some of the major highlights of this past year (in chronological order) that left me with the biggest impression:

  • Seeing Jackie perform at Pittsburgh Heinz Hall.  My wife and I had front row seats and it was the closest to the stage that I have ever been while attending a Jackie concert.  I also had another memorable Meet and Greet with Jackie before the concert.  In addition, I helped to plan a well-attended Jackie Evancho fan gathering at Six Penn Station before the concert, where close to 36 fans had shown up for dinner to celebrate our comradery as fans of Jackie.
  • Jackie performed at a major Las Vegas show with Cirque du Soleil where she sang a magnificent rendition of Bridge Over Trouble Water while she was in the water at the “O” Theater.  In addition, Jackie also sang while suspended nearly 100 feet in the air as part of the show’s finale.
  • Jackie performed a joint concert with the renowned tenor Jose Carreras in Taiwan.  This concert had over 10,000 people in attendance and was a major international event to add to Jackie’s prestigious list of concerts performed overseas.
  • Seeing Jackie perform at Cleveland Playhouse Square.  My wife and I had third row seats for this concert.  I met Jackie again at Meet and Greet.  I also helped plan the fan gathering of about 30 Jackie fans who attended a dinner before the concert at Otto Moser restaurant in Cleveland.  This concert and the Pittsburgh concert were both fabulous!
  • On July 4th, Jackie sang the National Anthem and Can You Feel The Love Tonight at the Nation’s Capital in Washington DC for an event called A Capital Fourth celebration.  This was a nationally televised broadcast and was a major accomplishment for Jackie to perform at such an honorable event.  In typical Jackie style, she wowed the country with her incredible singing ability.
  • Jackie performed at a major benefit concert at the Conference Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the MuzArt World Foundation – We Are Hope event.
  • Jackie performed a major holiday concert at Carnegie Hall with Tim Janis and Sir James Galway.

In addition to the items listed above, Jackie has had numerous other concerts, TV appearances, interviews, and other events that she has performed or participated at as well.  Jackie continues to have a very strong and active career.  It will be interesting to see what’s in store for 2014.

As an extra added end-of-the-year  bonus, the WordPress.com stats helper prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  Click below to see the stats.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I just want to say thanks to all who read my blog this past year.  I look forward to whatever Jackie has in store for 2014 and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

A light-hearted categorization of Jackie fans

One thing that has always struck me about Jackie Evancho fans is the diversity of individuals who are part of the fan-base.  Jackie’s fans come from varied backgrounds – both professionally and personally.  Many of these individuals have found something special about Jackie’s music that has inspired them to become a fan in one way or another.  Fans range in age from young to old – with a fairly large number of fans seemingly in the over 50 category.  However,  It is not just one age group that is represented; It is a wide range of age groups – creating a diverse audience that is not hemmed in to one demographic.

For a very long time I have been trying to put together a list of categories to apply to Jackie fans.  I have observed so many great qualities in many of Jackie’s fans mostly through reading postings on Jackie Evancho forums and by meeting them at concerts.  It is one of the reasons why I love being a part of the Jackie fan community.  Over the years that I have been an active participant and observer of Jackie’s fan base, I have noticed some characteristics and titles that have stood out – prompting me to put together a list to whimsically describe the various fan-types that are part of this melting pot of people who admire Jackie Evancho.

So, here is my light-hearted attempt to give all of us fans a chance to look at all of the various ways that we contribute to the common Jackie fan-base.  Note, it is likely that many fans fall into multiple categories.

The Statisticians – This type of fan is primarily focused on the statistics of Jackie’s career.  Usually spends most of their time surfing the web looking for information relating to chart rankings, CD sales, current earnings, number of YouTube view counts, Number of likes, etc..

The Fact-finders – Similar to The Statisticians, but is primary looking at finding facts and information about Jackie.  This fan would be great at playing Trivial Pursuit – Jackie Evancho edition.

The News-watchers – May include Fact-finders.  This fan is looking for the latest and greatest news concerning Jackie.  They comb the web trying to find the newest story and hope that they will be the first one to discover it and share it with other fans.

The Gushers – This fan is beaming all the time from The Jackie Effect.  They are usually very positive people who are full of praise for everything Jackie.  Sometimes known to go over-the-top with their messages of affection in forum posts.  But, how can you blame them?  Probably most of Jackie’s fans have fallen into this category at one time or another.

The Analysts – These fans are usually trying to figure out why they are a fan and what it is about Jackie that draws them in.  They also strive to explain or understand “The Jackie Effect.”  These fans also analyze Jackie’s vocal patterns, and try to determine in a methodical explanation as to why Jackie’s voice makes so many fans weak in the knees.

The Musicologists – These are the fans who know music and know how to talk about music.  They may be professionals, amateurs, and/or highly educated in the field of music.  This could include vocalists and/or instrumentalists.  It could also include people who are familiar with the music entertainment business.

The Rookies – All fans start out here when they are still learning the ropes about Jackie. It’s always great to see a new fan emerge and to observe their wide-eyed amazement at all the new discoveries that they find out about Jackie.

The Protectionists – This fan is always on the watch for anyone or anything that could harm Jackie in some way.  If something alarms them, they probably make it a point to keep Jackie’s parents well-informed of anything suspicious.

The Crusaders – Similar to the Protectionists. These fans are the self-appointed monitors of content on the web as it relates to Jackie.  They make it a point to scan the internet for anything that could be deemed harmful or objectionable based on their standards.  If anyone makes a post or comment about Jackie that they do not agree with, they will be all over it – firing back a rebuttal post to defend their ideals about Jackie to the highest degree.

The Charitablists – Fans in this category do what they can to be charitable to other fans.  This may include giving out buttons, coins, posters, CDs, and even free concert tickets on occasion.  A very noble group of people who do everything that they can so that others get as much joy out of being a Jackie fan as they can.

The Spiritualists – These fans have discovered something about Jackie’s singing and humility that moves them spiritually in a way that connects them with their faith.  This connection also stems from Jackie’s own acknowledgment of the importance of her faith in God.  Many fans in this category also pray often for Jackie’s well being.

The Humorists – These fans provide the comic relief regarding Jackie.  They may write parodies or create humorous pictures that give others a chance to see the lighter side of Jackie fan affliction.

The Roadies – These fans attend numerous Jackie concerts (usually in the double digits).  These fans always get front row seats (or the best seats they can get) and get to at least 8 – 10 concerts per year, if not more.  Most of the roadies have also had numerous M&G’s with Jackie.

The Jackieheads – If anyone is familiar with the band Grateful Dead, this term was coined from the term Deadhead that is applied to Grateful Dead fans.  Jackieheads have been defined to be any fan who has attended more than one concert.  Tailgating at a concert in a VW tie-died minibus would be the epitome of a Jackiehead.

The JackieJunkies – Can’t get enough of Jackie?  Do you need a constant Jackie fix to get you through the day?  Then you might just be a Jackie Junkie.  One good thing about being a Jackie Junkie is there are no known ill-effects other than being constantly “high” on Jackie music.

The Evangels – Term created for Jackie Evancho fans by a Jackie fan in 2011.  Nobody is quite sure what it means to be an Evangel, but the explanation of the term was to combine Evancho with Angel to form the word Evangel.  Some have coined the term as a religious label and others see it as merely a term of affection.  If you look at the word from the literal sense, its meaning can be interpreted from the Greek definition; Bringing good news.  Jackie herself seems to have embraced the term and has used it on occasion to refer to her fans.

The Forumaholics – This type of fan is a frequent visitor to forums that discuss anything and everything Jackie.  They are constantly looking for new posts or messages about Jackie.  Many forumaholics also have an exuberant number of posts on forums, however some just read quietly behind the scenes without posting.

The Chatters – Group of fans who chat on-line about Jackie.  These fans frequently visit the chat room to share their immediate thoughts on the latest Jackie news, or just to discuss anything that can be thought of – usually keeping Jackie at the forefront of the conversation.

The Collectors – These fans make it a point to own every piece of Jackie merchandise that is available.  In some cases the collectors may even own several of the same pieces of merchandise.  The collectors have been known to spend large amounts of money on rare Jackie memorabilia such as signed and/or unsigned copies of Jackie’s first CD Titled “Prelude To a Dream” (PTAD) in addition to other items signed by Jackie.

The Writers – This group of fans are compelled to write stories, blog entries, parodies, poems, forum posts, and comments about Jackie.  For some people in this category writing has always been a part of their lives, and for others, The Jackie Effect turned them into writers.

The Artisans – Consists of Jackie fans who have artistic talent and use that talent to edit and enhance photos of Jackie using many creative techniques that showcase Jackie in numerous ways.  This also includes fans with a knack for producing unique and visually stunning videos that are truly amazing.

The Originals – These are the fans who have been following Jackie’s career before she made her debut appearance on America’s Got Talent (AGT).  Some of these fans were paying attention to Jackie from the very beginning, when Jackie’s first videos were posted on YouTube when she was just 8 years-old.  These fans have seen Jackie progress from an unknown child singing at nursing homes and small group events to venues that have had audiences with up to 100,000 people and TV appearances reaching  millions.

The Superfans – Consists of fans who have really put in a lot of their time, effort, and money to be a part of the Jackie experience.  These fans have gone to over 15 Jackie concerts, have met Jackie numerous times at M&G or chance meetings, bought Jackie CDs in bulk, have numerous signed Jackie items, own at least one or more copies of PTAD (signed by Jackie of course), and spend countless hours discovering everything they can about Jackie.  These fans are most likely recognized by Jackie as well as her parents.

And finally, The plain ol’ Jackie Fans – the catch-all category for all fans of Jackie.  Each and every one of us has found a special place in our hearts and/or minds for being a fan.  Some of us may know the reasons, and others are maybe still grappling with it.  Either way, Jackie has somehow pulled us together to form a melting pot of diverse individuals who have come to appreciate Jackie in some way.

Jackie’s concert appearance at The Capitol Fourth 2013

Normally when I create a blog post about Jackie Evancho I am usually basing it on my own personal experiences.  In this blog entry, I will be telling a story based on accounts from other Jackie  fans who have been gracious enough to provide me with content based on their own experience at The Capitol Fourth concert in Washington DC.

In my previous blog entry titled “Jackie to perform at the Capitol Fourth concert in DC,” I had indicated that I was contacted by Jamie Geller who is associated with Capitol Concerts.  Jamie had suggested that I  post a blog entry to promote Jackie’s appearance at the event.  This blog post is a follow-up to highlight Jackie’s performance at this special concert.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend this event in person, but I have received some tidbits from other Jackie fans in attendance who gave me a first-hand account of what they experienced at the concert.  I was able to watch this concert on my local PBS station, so I can offer some insights into this concert based on what was broadcast.  Sometimes watching an event on TV gives a better perspective than being there in person (at least that is what I have been trying to convince myself).  In this case, we will have the best of both worlds – my TV viewing experience and the experience of first-hand accounts from fans who were in attendance.

July 3rd, 2013 – Rehearsal day

Jackie had posted several twitter messages, pictures, and some short videos of her experience during the rehearsal.  Here are a few of the twitter posts that were made:

 

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Here is a link to additional official pictures of Jackie that were taken at the Capitol rehearsal:

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Jackie+Evancho

Here is a brief summary of some of the commentary that I received from some fans who had attended the rehearsal:

The police presence was as advertised, everywhere you looked you could see the uniforms of DC, Park, U.S. Protective Service (uniformed division of the Secret Service), Metro and Maryland State Troopers. The security screening was both interrogative and with metal detection.  We were also sniffed by a bomb dog. I thought it was very thorough and they were set up for a large crowd for the evening dress rehearsal as well as the very large crowd for the 4th. We were kept out of the seated area which was for guests and the media but had a view of about 100 ft from the stage.  Jackie was dressed in a white dress that was beautiful. We were astounded and proud when we heard the National Anthem intro being played, then I received the Keek that the first secret was out. Jackie sounded wonderful but after the first go around Lisa (Jackie’s mother) came to the stage and talked to Jackie and then the color guard was announced and she sang it again with a stronger voice, in my opinion.  Then we heard the into for her second song.  The announcement for Jackie was a very over-the-top one stating about her 3 year career of multi-platinum selling throughout the world.  She then sang Can You Feel The Love Tonight after which  the second Keek about the second secret was out.   Jackie was given a round of applause for both of her songs by all who attended.   All in all a very nice day.

July 4th, 2013 – Concert Day

I was in great anticipation for the PBS broadcast at 8:00 pm EDT.  Many of Jackie’s fans had gathered in her official fan club chat room to express their thoughts and encouraging words during Jackie’s performance.  I was one of them.

To our surprise, Jackie was the introductory performer to open the concert with her singing The National Anthem.  What a great thrill it was to watch Jackie sing our National Anthem at such a monumental event.  I was told by a fan that during rehearsal Jackie did not go after the high note when singing the verse – “land of the free”, but at the actual performance on the 4th she did go after the high note and nailed it!  You could read the lips of some people in the crowd saying “Wow!”  Jackie did an amazing job!

Later in the concert, Jackie would come out again to perform Can You Feel The Love Tonight.  Once again, she did an incredible job as usual!  The roar of the crowd at the end of her performance showed just how much the audience appreciated her talent.  With Jackie now at 13 years-old, she has probably taken a lot of people by surprise at how much she has grown up since her well-known television appearance on America’s Got Talent (AGT) back in 2010.  This was evident by numerous tweets mentioning Jackie.  It is quite apparent that Jackie impressed a lot of people who probably have not been following her since AGT.  Let me say from someone who has been following her since AGT, the number of things Jackie has accomplished  are too numerous to mention and are impressive beyond belief for someone so young.

Who knows how much this latest appearance with all of America watching will affect Jackie’s career.  I only hope for the best for her because she seems to have remained very humble and modest in spite of all the attention she has received. I think that Jackie and her parents will set a precedent for all future kids who may follow in Jackie’s footsteps someday –  showing how to do things right when raising someone so young in the entertainment industry.  I pray that Jackie and her family will always have the wisdom to know how to handle all the fame that has come their way.  Based on what I can tell, I think those prayers are being answered.

Thanks to all of the fans who helped provide content for this blog entry.  It is very much appreciated.

Here are videos of Jackie’s performance at the Capitol.

Jackie to perform at the Capitol Fourth concert in DC

Several days ago, I received a message on my blog offering some encouraging words for me to post about Jackie Evancho’s appearance to sing at our nation’s capital in celebration of America’s birthday on July 4th.  I am more than happy to offer my assistance to help promote Jackie.

Just recently I saw Jackie Evancho perform a flawless concert in Cleveland on June 7th.  This concert was perhaps one of the best Jackie Evancho performances that I have ever attended.  Based on what I saw in Cleveland as well as other past concerts, I am completely confident in Jackie’s ability to wow our nation this July 4th when she takes the stage as part of the Capitol Fourth celebration.  Jackie has been called “America’s Sweetheart” by many of her fans.  This coming Thursday (July 4th, 2013) she will capture the hearts of America if she hasn’t done that already.

This will mark the third time that Jackie has performed for the President of the United States.  Jackie first performed for President Barack Obama  in 2010 at the National Tree Lighting.  The second time was in 2012 at the National Prayer Breakfast.  And now, on July 4th, 2013, Jackie takes the stage in Washington DC to perform once again for the President at the Capitol Fourth celebration.  Quite an accomplishment for a girl who just turned 13 years old this past April.    Keep in mind that Jackie has also performed for government dignitaries in other countries as well.  In 2012 Jackie performed for and met the Emperor of Japan and his family.  In that same year Jackie  also performed as part of a  special concert in St. Petersburg Russia at the International Economic Forum for numerous government dignitaries – in addition to a crowd of over 100,000 people.  Jackie certainly has a very strong international presence.  She is no stranger to being at the forefront of some very big concerts.

I would encourage all readers to tune-in to watch Jackie Evancho perform as part of the grande  celebration of America’s Independence this coming July 4th, 2013.  The show is scheduled to be broadcast at 8:00 pm EDT and again at  9:30 pm on local PBS stations throughout the US.

For more information about this concert, check out the following links:

http://www.jackieevancho.com./us/news/jackie-perform-4th-july-capital-forth

http://www.pbs.org/capitolfourth/bios.html#usapsb

http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yournorthhills/yournorthhillsmore/4224903-74/jackie-evancho-lisa#axzz2XHkkxPVH

Pittsburgh concert March 12, 2013 – A great day!

It had been fifteen long months since the last time I saw Jackie Evancho in person.  Fifteen months waiting in anticipating for March 12, 2013 when Jackie would finally be performing somewhere I could attend.  Suffice it to say, this concert was well worth the wait!  I will try to paint a picture of the day with words so that you follow along as I saw it.

The entire day was a whirlwind of activity.  My wife and I departed for Pittsburgh slightly after 12:30 pm, arriving in the city around 2:45 pm.  The traffic was heavy for the first 15 minutes of the trip.  After that, the drive went very well.  The weather was cool (around 40 deg.) and overcast.  There were only a few sprinkles of rain here and there along the way, but for the most part the weather cooperated.  As soon as we arrived in Pittsburgh, I could feel the excitement starting to mount.  This was going to be a great day!  We found a nice place to park the car in a parking deck just down the street from the arts district in Pittsburgh.  The first thing we did was to walk to Heinz Hall to check out the venue.  It didn’t take long to find it at all.  Surprisingly, there was no marquee with Jackie’s name outside the concert hall.  We walked around the hall looking for posters, or some kind of hint that Jackie was performing there that day.  We didn’t find any sign of Jackie’s concert at first.  Later on, there would be posters of Jackie put up by the venue.

After checking out Heinz Hall, we proceeded to Six Penn Kitchen restaurant where a Jackie fan gathering / dinner before the concert would be taking place.  My wife and I were the first fans to arrive.  We were an hour early.  The fan gathering wasn’t until 4:00 pm, but we sat down in the bar area to wait for and welcome the arriving fans.  I had volunteered to make arrangements for the fans to have dinner and I was a bit worried as to whether there would be enough space for everyone.  It was going to be a very large group.  Reservations were for 26, but I think more than that eventually showed up.  Thankfully, Six Penn restaurant set aside an upstairs room for us to gather.  I think that the fan turnout overwhelmed the restaurant staff, but they did a great job in accommodating us.  I can’t thank the manager and staff at Six Penn enough for everything.  I was told that we ballooned to around 36 fans who actually showed up – one of the biggest turnouts ever for a fan gathering.  The fan gathering was charged full of excitement.   There were people handing out Jackie buttons galore, in addition to posters, banners, cards, and everything imaginable for all of us to sign and wish Jackie the best.  So many fans generously gave to other fans out of the goodness of their heart.  It is one of the many great qualities of Jackie’s fans.

Time started to fly.  Before we knew it, the time was approaching 6:00 pm – the magic hour when those of us who were fortunate enough to attend M&G were to report to Heinz Hall.  Once we arrived at Heinz Hall, the outer lobby was packed full of people.  It was hard to believe that all of these people were attending M&G.  I think some were just arriving early for the concert to take in the experience.  Soon we would get our M&G passes and those of us who received them were escorted into the hall.  We were taken down a stairway to a lower level where the area was roped off for the fans to form a line to see Jackie. It wasn’t long before Jackie, her family, staff, and security were in the room adjacent from the line of fans.  I could see them all just ahead.  Soon, the line started to move.  At this time, I will admit that the butterflies start to take over and nerves set it.  How is it that Jackie’s presence in a room can suddenly raise the emotional levels up so high?  I was feeling giddy with excitement!  Soon, there was only one more person to go in before me.  I frantically tried to remember what I wanted to say to Jackie.  Here we go…. I am next.  I walked up, handed my camera to Jackie’s manager, and then greeted Jackie.  My mind suddenly went blank.  What did I want to say?  All I could get out was, “Hi Jackie!  Nice to see you again!  I haven’t seen you in a long time since the last time you were in Pittsburgh.”  Jackie was a bit soft-spoken.  I think she said, “Thanks for coming.”  Honestly, in the excitement of the moment I am not sure what she said.  Soon, the picture was snapped, and I knew my time was over.  Before I walked away I think I said, “You’re the greatest Jackie!”  I think she said, “Thanks!”  Oh… I wanted to say so much more!  I forgot to tell her my name (not that it matters).  I wanted to tell her how much I admired her for her voice, her kindness, and most of all her faith in God.  I wanted to tell her that I believed she was making a difference in the world.  But, before I knew it, I was out of there.  The time with Jackie may have been only several seconds, but the memories will last forever.

On to the concert.  We still had about 45 minutes before the concert would start at 7:30 pm.  My wife arrived at Heinz Hall to meet me since she did not get to go to M&G.   We hung out in the lobby talking with fans, taking pictures, and soaking in the atmosphere.  We soon went to our seats in the front row center section.  The seats were incredible!  We were about 4 feet from the stage.   Jackie would eventually be singing probably about 8 feet from where we were sitting.  Soon, the lights started to dim, the concert master tuned the orchestra, and we were underway.  At that moment, I wanted the time to slow down so that I could savor every minute of this experience.  The entire Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) was there to play for Jackie.  They started out with 2 music intermezzos from the opera Carmen (Entr’acte – Act 4, and Act 3 respectively).  I absolutely love these selections as a concert opener for Jackie.  It sets the mood perfectly,  and the PSO played them beautifully.  It gave me goosebumps, and Jackie hasn’t even come out yet.  Once the orchestra completed the selections from Carmen to a rousing applause  the orchestra suddenly starts into the haunting introduction of “Pure Imagination.”  At this time, I could feel the rush of emotion take me over, as I knew Jackie would soon be coming out.  Suddenly, out she comes in a beautiful turquoise dress  that I have seen photos of but never seen in person.  She looked spectacular with the lights shimmering off her dress.  The introduction of the song finishes, and then Jackie starts into “Pure Imagination.”  Her voice is as pure and wonderful as I have ever heard it. The orchestra and Jackie were now one, and the music was like listening to her Songs From the Silver Screen CD, only better!  One by one, Jackie sang through the songs on her set list and all I could do was pray that somehow time would just slow down to a halt because I didn’t want the moment to end.  I was in a state of bliss!  There she was,  just 8 feet away and sometimes even closer when she would walk to our side of the stage.   Jackie’s family sat about 8 rows back from where we sat and it was obvious that Jackie was giving them extra attention.  You could tell that she was very happy to have her family there in the audience and it showed.  She made it a point to wave to as many audience members as she could between songs during all the many cheers that came her way.  One special treat that we got as a bonus for being in the front row is that during intermission, Jackie’s family came in and out of the concert hall through the front row aisle just inches from where we were standing.  It was great to see Jackie’s siblings, her grandparents, and several other family members and/or friends whom I did not recognize, walk by our seats.  They kept to themselves and tried to be inconspicuous, moving through our area rapidly.  It was really great to see this wonderful family!  Jackie’s mother and father (Mike and Lisa) were not in the audience.  I am assuming they were backstage.  Lisa did come out at intermission (rapidly) to remove the set-list for the first half from the stage floor.  At intermission, my wife and I remained in our seating area.  I had several people come up to us because they thought WE were family.  This happened to us at the last concert we attended at Pittsburgh too.  It must be the Jackie buttons we wore, or the Jackie M&G pass that I was wearing that may lead people to think this.  It is sort of flattering, but I have to tell them that we are just fans of Jackie.  Many wanted to know where we got the buttons.  Several people who were patrons of the PSO talked with us too.  Some had never heard Jackie and were floored at how well she sang.  Soon the intermission was over and we were on to the second half (oh nooo!  concert is going by way too fast!).   The orchestra starts into Pirates of the Caribbean as a lead-in for the second half (I was hoping they would do something a little higher up to their level, but that is the standard set-list for her concerts on this tour).  Soon, Jackie would be coming out for the second half wearing a spectacular dress that may fans have been raving about.  It is absolutely spectacular as it explodes with shimmers of light!  I now know that pictures cannot do it justice, you have to see it for real as others have said as well.  Jackie then sings the second half with various songs from her CDs (Songs From the Silver Screen, and Dream With Me).   There is no doubt in this fan’s mind that Jackie still has plenty of fire-power in that gorgeous voice of hers.  Jumaane Smith (a talented guest trumpeter who tours with Jackie) also performed his solos brilliantly as well as his duet with Jackie on The Summer Knows.  Jackie poured herself into her songs to give everything she had for the home crowd.  She finished to a roaring applause and came out for 3 curtain calls and two encores.  Maybe on other concerts she would have only done one encore, but I am guessing she wanted to give her all to the home crowd.  Everyone generously showed their appreciation with roaring applause and standing Os.  We didn’t want to let her go!

After the concert was over we didn’t want to leave until the ushers told us we had to go.  I talked to some fans afterwards outside Heinz Hall.  Some of the fans whom I had talked with were people I hadn’t seen at the dinner, but had recognized from the last time I was in Pittsburgh to see Jackie back in December of 2011.  One fan I remember in particular had his young 8 year-old daughter with him.  They were both beaming from the concert.  It was great to see young kids at the concert too.  Jackie certainly does transcend to all age groups.

Thank you to Jackie and her family for making all of this possible.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for getting to experience the joy of meeting Jackie again and attending this concert!  It was fabulous!

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2012 in review

It’s been a great year and I thought that I would share some of my fondest  highlights  following Jackie Evancho‘s career in 2012:

  1. Jackie visiting Japan twice and the video that Jackie’s mother Lisa provided of those visits. The part with Jackie praying at the end of that video was very special to me.
  2. Jackie appearing at The National Prayer breakfast. Also thanks for a great video of that adventure provided by Lisa.
  3. Taking part in a fan video to wish Jackie a Happy 12th. Birthday.
  4. Being able to watch the videos of Jackie singing at Yara’s Wedding.
  5. Watching the live video stream of Jackie on Canada’s Got Talent.
  6. Jackie appearing on Dancing With The Stars. It was so exciting to see Jackie on a national prime-time TV show again.
  7. The excitement behind the filming and release of Music Of The Movies at the Orpheum Theater. Although I could not attend this concert, the resulting PBS video that came from it was fantastic and made me feel like I was there!
  8. Masses of fans gathering in the fan club chat room to correspond as we watched Jackie sing at St. Petersburg Russia using a live camera link.
  9. The build-up and release of Songs From The Silver Screen CD.
  10. Jackie modeling for Guess Kids clothing line and the associated promo video,
  11. Feeling concern and offering prayers and support for Jackie when she scraped open her leg while playing outside.
  12. The Toronto Film Festival showing of Jackie Evancho walking the red carpet with Robert Redford for Jackie’s first acting role  in the movie “The Company You Keep.”
  13. Watching the story unfold where the Classical Crossover show started on KITC-FM, and Jackie’s 20 minute interview with one of Jackie’s fans taking part in the interview.
  14. Jackie partnering with Philosophy to create “To Believe” shampoo / shower gel, where all proceeds go to WhyHunger.
  15. The many tweets of pictures that Jackie provided of her adventures and her travels.
  16. Numerous concerts with so many great accounts from fans who attended them.
  17. The many television appearances, interviews, and videos where Jackie continues to make me proud to be a Jackie fan.

I am sure that I have not hit on everything that happened this year, but there is no denying that 2012 has been very exciting to be a Jackie fan.  Can’t wait to see what is in store for 2013.

I also want to say thanks to all the visitors who have commented and read my blog dedicated to Jackie Evancho.  I hope you have found it informative and inspiring as well.  2012 has been a great year and I am looking forward to 2013 where I will be attending two more Jackie concerts this spring.  Hopefully I will be providing new blog entries of my experiences at those concerts.  I can’t wait!

The following was provided by WordPress to show an annual summary report of this blog.  Thought I would go ahead and share it for posterity sake as part of this post.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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