Music giant makes desperate pitch for kiddie star

Music giant makes desperate pitch for kiddie star


norman lebrecht

January 20, 2011

Days after losing some of its biggest singers, floundering IMG Artists announces a major coup.

It has signed an exclusive representation deal with a ‘vocal sensation’. Phew, hold breaths. Has Netrebko jumped ship? Bocelli changed flaks? Bartoli gone bonkers?
None of the above. IMG has gone for the kiddie market with a 10 year-old from America’s Got Talent. Her name is Jackie Evancho and the agency thinks she’s the next Charlotte Church. Her first album will be produced by David Foster, maker of Josh Groban.
I wish IMG every joy with its stunning new artist. It sends a useful advisory to grown-up IMG singers that this could be a very good time to jump ship.

And here she is, singing on YouTube to a wound-up telly audience.


  • Christine Marsden says:

    Oh ear! That’ll be another young voice ruined.
    But profits come first?

  • Marie Lamb says:

    One thing that I notice is that the producer of Miss Evancho’s CD will be David Foster. Whatever one thinks of his productions, his credits are not exactly filled with classical music or artists, unless you count crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli. You mentioned Josh Groban. In my work, some people have asked me about this “opera singer” who has never sung in opera, AFAIK. Some have been disappointed when I have told them, “He’s a pleasant pop singer, and that is all. To be an ‘opera singer,’ you have to have actually sung some opera. He just doesn’t have that kind of voice.” I have also frequently seen young Miss Evancho mentioned in the media as an “opera singer,” even though she’s not yet been in one at her tender age. She is frequently referred to as a soprano, but a couple of listens to her voice suggest to me that she’ll grow up to be a mezzo. I wonder what kind of career guidance she is getting. If things turn out OK for her because of, or despite, all of this early exposure, that would be nice, but I think there’s some reason to be watchful in her case. For now, I agree with a relative of mine who was glad that young Jackie didn’t win “America’s Got Talent,” since the Las Vegas gig for the AGT winner is just not suitable for a child, especially one with classical music aspirations. I hope that those around the girl will behave with similar concern about her future and her well-being; we’ll see what happens.

  • Jackie Evancho has had somewhere around 18 to 20 million views on youtube in the last year. It illustrates the love people still have for the bel canto voice (sung by a child or not.) It is so unfortunate that Americans do not have a comprehensive system of public arts funding like the Europeans. Just as in Europe, if opera houses were reachable and affordable in America, they would be quite popular. And considering that there are probably quite few potential Evancho’s out there, it also shows how much talent is being wasted by simple neglect.

  • Suzanne says:

    Well, you can fool ALL of the people some of the time… Listen to this child, please; she has the voice of a child, not an “angel” and not an “opera singer”. What vibrato she does have is produced artificially by means of manipulation of her jaw,and given that her brother and sister are also touted as budding “phenoms”,one should look to their parents as pushing these kids with no thought as to the long-term outlook or consequences. “Hits” on YouTube mean nothing beyond curiosity generated by hype from those who don’t know any better- the same viewers who keep shows like “America’s Got Talent” on the air. Good teachers and conservatories don’t type a fach on female singers, even at the age of 17-20,as they will usually go through one or more changes during the time in college and graduate school, so speculation as to will she be a mezzo is premature- you’d be amazed as to the number of girls who enter those schools having sung Cherubino’s arias!
    I will guarantee that young Jackie will never apply to or be accepted by a major conservatory, even should she have a “voice” by the age of 18, because no good teacher will want to deal with the bad habits and damaged incurred by years of singing beyond her abilities.
    Those who haven’t fled IMG by now should run, not walk, to the nearest exit!

  • I completely agree that this girl’s voice is in extreme danger and that she is thus being exploited. On the other hand, it is simply not true that the youtube hits for Evanko are “nothing beyond curiosity generated by hype.” Pavarotti has also had well over 20 million hits on youtube. All of this takes “hype,” but it also shows that opera is a popular art form and people love the bel canto voice – even in its Jackie Evanko, Charlotte Church, and Paul Potts balderizations . With a sensible arts funding system we could give our children the proper models, forms of development, and genuine hope they could do something with their training aside from TV spectaculars that make kids into freak shows. If only the outrage of all those voice teachers out there would be applied to that end as well. Our conservatories pump out students like factories, but do very little to help create a society that would offer a resonable chance of employment.

    • theonejrs says:

      Looks like I found out where all the windbags went to. Still crying about not being good enough to compete with an 11 year old child?

  • Charles Rodgers says:

    The only training this girl receives is how not to hurt her voice. She will not receive coaching until after puberty. She is not opera, nor has she claimed to be opera. She has no interest in it. Personally, I don’t blame her for the multi million dollar contract she had signed. Long from now, even if she hurts her voice (doubtful) she will have millions. Not a bad trade off. The classical and opera world should be grateful for her TV appearance as with that one 2 1/2 minute vocal she has more Americans interested in opera than all artist combined in the last 25 years.

  • Russ stephen says:

    For all the worries that people have concerning Jackie Evancho’s voice, and possible damage to it, Sony/Columbia has hired Noted vocal Coach Yvie Burnett as Jackie’s Vocal Consultant, to look after the well being of her voice. Jackie is not an Opera singer, and is not interested in an Operatic Career! Her Musical Interests are mainly Classical Crossover, and mild Pop! Her upcoming Album is being produced by David Foster, who knows a thing or fifteen (Grammys) about musical talent. He says that her knowledge of music is unbelievably extensive, and her ability to lay down Quality tracks, is second to none! The Album (still un-named) is due out in March, and I’m looking forward to buying it!
    For those who say that she sounds like a child, you need to get your ears cleaned out. I heard her sing With 30 year old Katherine Jenkins at the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center, and they sounded so much alike it was hard to tell them apart! I hope we hear more of the two of them together, in the future!
    I’m pretty sure that there will be no long engagements in Vegas for Jackie, as I think she took a good look and listen to Sarah Brightman when she sang with her on AGT, saw what the Vegas years have done to Sarah’s once beautiful voice, and want’s no part of Vegas!
    Of course, time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet against Jackie. She has the Dream, Desire, Dedication and Discipline needed to be successful at anything she set’s her mind to doing!
    It’s all the more remarkable that at age 8, Jackie decided that performing is what she wanted to do with her life. This was her choice, not her Parents, and she’s stuck with it for close to 3 years now. The really great news is that she just keeps on getting better at it with each performance.
    Sony/Columbia has made all the right moves, including buying out Simon Cowell, (known in some circles as “God”), so they have Jackie’s best interests at heart. Her manager, Marc Johnston has her surrounded by good people and David Foster’s Align Entertainment Group, so she’s in capable hands. Jacke’s 4 song Christmas Album has sold almost 1.2 million copies to date, which makes Sony/Columbia happy, so I like her chances for a long and successful career!