Artistry of The Songs From The Silver Screen

4z3nC[1]Jackie Evancho fans have long been anticipating the release of Jackie’s next CD titled Songs From The Silver Screen (SFTSS).  On October 2nd, 2012, the CD was officially released.  Prior to the CD release date, many fans, including myself have had a chance to hear the songs performed on this CD by listening to  Jackie Evancho sing them on her second PBS Great Performances special titled Music Of The Movies (MOTM).  This performance is also made available to watch on DVD.  I received my copy of the DVD in mid-September through a pledge to PBS.  Although the DVD and CD have different titles, the musical selections are the same.  However, there are differences in these two similar, yet distinctively unique recordings.  First of all, let me say that MOTM is a splendid DVD.  When watching Jackie perform, it is apparent how much more advanced Jackie has become in her singing style and her stage presence.  She was already blowing away people (like me) with her vocal skills when she recorded her first full-length album titled Dream With Me.  But now, Jackie is another year older and another year advanced in singing artistry.  Her incredible vocal skills, stage presence, confidence, and love of performing are very apparent in the MOTM DVD.  Watching Jackie perform gives you a sense of how amazing someone so small and petite can sing with such grace and fullness to her voice.  She warms the hearts of her audience as they exuberantly respond to her charming demeanor and mastery of the music that she sings – a common occurrence at any Jackie Evancho concert.

I thought that I had settled in on my impressions of the MOTM DVD and was expecting about the same experience with the release of The Songs From The Silver Screen (SFTSS) CD.  When the release of the CD finally arrived, I was surprised at the various differences that I would experience.  First of all, let me say that the MOTM DVD is wonderful, but I must say that the SFTSS CD is much better and takes the quality level up even higher than the DVD.  The comparison may be a bit unfair in that the MOTM DVD was recorded live vs. the CD being a studio recording that has all the advantages of mixing, editing, and refining.  After seeing Jackie perform live, I can say that her voice doesn’t require editing or refining, but nonetheless the process does help to improve the audio quality of the recording itself.

This blog entry will primarily be focused on reviewing the SFTSS CD with some references to the MOTM DVD – pointing out the subtle differences that I  have  picked up between the two media as well as my overall opinion of each piece.  Let me start out by saying that the audio quality, mixing, balance, and overall production of SFTSS are tremendous!  It is quite apparent that a lot of hard work went into this CD and it definitely shows.  It is obvious that Jackie attracts quality producers because she is so good at what she does.  The emotion that Jackie draws out of the music is unbelievable for someone who is only 12 years-old.  She has a gentle and yet powerful vocal quality that is smooth, refined, and velvety.  Some of the songs recorded on this CD by title alone may seem lackluster, but you have to realize that they are being performed by no ordinary singer.  Jackie has this way of taking a mundane song and turning it into a work of art.  She does this with many of the songs on this CD – transforming them into artistic masterpieces.  The balance between orchestral accompaniment and Jackie’s voice combine to form a listening experience that is truly breathtaking.  Upon first hearing the SFTSS audio tracks, I felt goose bumps from the sheer emotional fluidity that comes from this music.

Keep in mind, this CD stays true to Jackie’s Classical Crossover music style incorporating elements of pop music with classical sounding stylistic texture.  This opens up the music to audiences who can appreciate light-sounding classical music as well as those who may be more attracted to pop music.  Listeners from different age-groups should find a song on this CD that they are familiar with from a wide range of movie periods ranging from early 20th century films all the way to movies released as late as 2010.

I will try to illustrate my impressions of each of the 12 songs by dividing up the music into my top five picks followed by my remaining top picks.  I cannot say that there are any bottom picks.  As far as I am concerned, all the songs are worthy of being on top, however I do have five favorites so I will start with them.

  1. Se – From the movie Cinema Paradiso.  For me, this song is classic Jackie and has a singing style that initially attracted me to become a fan last year.  Although this song is not a classical piece per se’, it is sung with a somewhat classical style in a foreign language, which showcases just how good Jackie is at her craft.  It is mind-boggling how she can sing in Italian (or any other language) just as effortlessly as she sings in English.  This is where Jackie’s singing skills truly shine.
  2. Come What May – In this song, Jackie sings in collaboration with The Tenors (formerly known as The Canadian Tenors) who sing in tandem with Jackie.  Jackie and The Tenors blend together beautifully in this piece, and the melodic harmonies of the music sends shivers all over when I hear it.   One distinction between the recording of this piece on MOTM vs. SFTSS is that on MOTM, only three of the four tenors were available for the performance.  The amazing part of this is that Jackie sang some of the missing fourth tenor part at times when she was not singing her own part.  It just goes to show how diverse Jackie can be.
  3. What A Wonderful World – When I first heard that Jackie would be doing this song, I thought that people would be too accustomed to Louis Armstrong’s version of this song.  However, now that I have heard Jackie sing it, I believe the torch has been passed and now Jackie owns it.  The smooth flowing style that she puts on this piece gives the music a marvelous tenderness that tugs at your heart and puts you into a complete state of tranquility.   
  4. Reflection – Jackie has dedicated this song to her mother – Lisa Evancho.  Lisa, and Jackie’s father Mike have devoted themselves to helping Jackie live out her dream of having a singing career.  This piece is a lovely rendition of the song from the movie Mulan.  Knowing that Jackie specifically dedicated this song to her mother makes it very meaningful and draws me in to listen intently to the lyrics and the beautiful melody that goes with them.  Truly a wonderful rendition of this song.
  5. Music Of The Night – Jackie has pointed out in her introduction of this piece on the MOTM DVD that this song is very special to her, because it is the first song that she started singing around the house after she saw the movie “Phantom Of The Opera.”  Her mother recognized something special in Jackie’s voice, which would lead to where Jackie is today.  Although this song is sung by the phantom in the movie, Jackie wanted to sing it because she likes it.  All I can say is I am glad she likes it and chose to sing it on this CD.  It is a wonderful rendition and Jackie does this song tremendous justice.  The last note that she holds on this piece seems impossible for someone her age to hold for so long, yet she does it brilliantly while putting in just the right amount of vibrato in perfect pitch as the song fades to end.

Moving forward from my top five picks, the remaining songs on my list are equally wonderful and are almost impossible to rank in any particular order, so I will just list them and post my impressions.

  • Some Enchanted Evening – I have always loved the music from South Pacific.  This piece in particular is one of my favorites from the movie / musical.  Jackie sings this song with a smoothness that just melts me into musical bliss. 
  • My Heart Will Go On – When I first heard that Jackie would be doing this song, I had some reservations because Celine Dion had established herself quite firmly with this song from the movie Titanic.  Then, along comes Jackie, and once again she puts her own personal touch on this song and gives it another life, not competing with Celine, but establishing it apart as its own unique style.  Whereas Celine sings the song with power and passion, Jackie sings it with tenderness and grace.  Some minor differences between the MOTM DVD and SFTSS CD include a different violin soloist (Caroline Campbell for MOTM, and Joshua Bell for SFTSS), and additional supporting background vocal effects for the SFTSS CD that are absent on the MOTM DVD.
  • I See The Light – This song offers a very unique experience.  It gives the listener a chance to hear Jackie sing a duet with her brother Jacob.  Turns out, that Jacob Evancho is a pretty good singer.  I will say that the charm of this duet comes from watching it while hearing it.  This is where I believe the MOTM DVD gives the best experience for this song.  You get to see Jackie and Jacob sing and interact with each other, showing that their sibling relationship is very special.  
  • When I Fall In Love – Can a 12 year-old girl sing about falling in love and the feelings one would experience when that moment occurs?  When it comes to Jackie…, absolutely!  The reason is because when Jackie sings she is no longer a 12 year-old girl, she is story-teller, singing as though she is part of the song for the listener to get in touch with feelings of love and romance in whatever manner they may choose to apply to their own lives.
  • The Summer Knows – There are very distinct differences between the MOTM recording of this song and the recording on SFTSS.   Two different trumpet players were featured in the accompaniment with Jackie – each with stylistically distinctive differences.  On MOTM, the trumpet soloist is Jumaane Smith who plays with a slightly sultry flair.  On SFTSS, the trumpet soloist is Chris Botti who plays with more of a smooth and mellow style.   Each trumpet soloist compliments Jackie very well, but I tend to lean towards the SFTSS recording because it just sounds so smooth and allows Jackie’s voice to stand out much better.  The studio mixing may have had a lot to do with this as well.
  • Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Originally sung by Sir Elton John, Jackie takes a leap of faith in singing this song in the shadow of another great performer.  But, as I have come to realize, Jackie has the distinct ability to give a song like this her own personal touch.  There is a subtle difference in the song performed on MOTM vs. SFTSS.  In SFTSS, Jackie takes the last note of the piece up a 5th, which adds a bit of a pleasant surprise to the ending, as opposed to staying on the tonic as was done for the MOTM recording.  I actually prefer the SFTSS version of this song because of better audio quality and the surprise ending.  One additional note…, because I am a clarinet player, I get an extra treat to hear a beautiful clarinet solo at the start of this piece.
  • Pure Imagination – This song is associated with the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie and was originally sung by Gene Wilder playing the part of Willie Wonka.  How do you take a ho-hum song and turn it into an artistic masterpiece?  You let Jackie Evancho sing it.  That is exactly what occurs when Jackie sings this song.   Amazing how such a simple song can suddenly transform into a work of art.

I hope that anyone who reads this review finds it helpful.  If you are a fan of Jackie Evancho, I am sure you know all-too-well the sentiments that I have conveyed in this post.  If you haven’t heard of Jackie Evancho before, I suggest you look her up on YouTube and get yourself a copy of any of her CDs, including Songs From The Silver Screen.  I know you won’t be disappointed, and if you become like most fans of Jackie you will soon find yourself wanting more.

You can purchase a copy of this CD online or at your local Target retail outlets:
If you would like to listen to the tracks on-line, check out the link below, but please purchase the CD if you like what you hear so that Jackie is supported and can continue her great work:

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