Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jackie Evancho in Concert at Artpark, Lewiston, NY, June 28, 2013

Chuck Yates

I finally saw the Classical Crossover prodigy Jackie Evancho in concert.  My husband and I have been fans since just after she placed second on the America's Got Talent show in 2010.  Jackie has since come out with three studio albums, including ones that have reached platinum and gold.  She has sung for the President of the United States and the Japanese Royal Family.  She has sung with Barbra Streisand, Susan Boyle, José Carreras, Tony Bennett, and Sumi Jo.  She has sung for an audience of 100,000 people in Russia and 30,000 people in Taiwan. She has modeled for Guess jeans and acted in a movie with Robert Redford. And she is still only 13-years old! A good part of the magic is that not only does Jackie have abundant musical talent, but she is poised, polite, charming, with a humble attitude, a kind heart, and boundless energy.

I had the opportunity to see Jackie when she came to Toronto in March 2013, but that was the only possible time I could go to New York City with my son, so I had to pass on that concert.  

When we heard that Jackie was going to be singing at Artpark in Lewiston, New York, we jumped at the chance.  Not only was the concert on my last day of work, which is a great way to kick off the summer, but it is just over an hour's drive from home.

We arrived in Lewiston with enough time to stroll around the historic town and have dinner.  Lewiston is a quaint old town on the Niagara River right across from Canada.  We had never been there before but had seen it many times from the Canadian side.

Lewiston is famous for being the staging area for the Battle of Queenston Heights, the first major battle of the War of 1812. Although the British commander, General Brock, was killed in the attack, the Americans ultimately lost the battle largely because the local militia were unwilling to join the attack (you can read about our daughter, Kate, taking part in a reenactment of the Battle of Queenston Heights last October in this post).  

Brock Monument on Queenston Heights across the Niagara River in Ontario, Canada

Lewiston is also famous for being the final stop along the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves heading to freedom in Canada. Many heroic local citizens helped smuggle slaves across the Niagara River (you can read in the photo below the interesting story about Tryon's Folly, also called "the house of the four cellars", that was used to help smuggle slaves). Have you ever read the book Freedom Crossing by Margaret Goff Clark? The book is very popular with school children and was set in Lewiston, so the town erected a commemorative Freedom Crossing Monument.

Freedom Crossing Monument in Lewiston, NY
Lewiston is also known for Artpark, a concert venue that was the destination of our visit.  We arrived at Artpark at approximately 7:30 and moments later a tree fell down on nearby power lines causing a black-out to the entire town, including the concert venue.  Yikes! Was I going to miss a second opportunity to see Jackie? 

Artpark, Lewiston, NY

We waited about a half hour and, amazingly, by 8:00 the power was back on and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The concert began just 20 minutes behind schedule.  After listening to Jackie's CDs and watching so many YouTube videos of Jackie perform, I was excited to finally see the girl in action.

The concert was a definite thrill to experience her obvious talent, to hear the pure clear high notes and the rich full deeper tones. It was also fun to see all of Jackie's charming mannerisms out in full force. While her voice sounds like it is from someone much older, her youthful energy is evident in her stage presence. At the end of every song she responded like any enthusiastic child by giving sweet double-handed waves, giggles, and pert little "thank yous".  
Unfortunately, her inexperience was also evident on stage as it resulted in some awkward moments between songs and amateurish stage exits. She would do well to work on introducing more of her songs and developing some of the patter that help with the necessary transitions in a concert.

I hadn't expected to feel any anxiety during the concert, but I'm a bit of a worry-wart and I get anxious if I feel someone is uncomfortable or they might hurt themselves. In this case, Jackie initially seemed a little uneasy. She was constantly adjusting her hair and looking over to the right to where I assume her mother was waiting in the wings.  In addition, during the first part of the concert her high notes were sometimes slightly weak and breathy, which made me worry about her voice as we were just beginning the concert.  Fortunately, though, she hit her stride and by the second half of the concert she seemed more at ease, she stopped adjusting her hair and looking over at her mother, and her voice seemed stronger. This also meant I could relax and enjoy the concert.

Jackie looked every inch the star in her flashy dresses.  She wore the two dresses in the photos below for this concert (although I don't have photos from the actual concert and these pictures were taken from the internet). I loved the bodices of the dresses, but not so much the poufy skirts.  They were a little too frilly for my taste, although they do give her good stage presence.

via Best of Jackie on the Web

Photo taken by Andrew Snook via the Examiner at Jackie's concert in Atlanta 2013

Did you notice Jackie's bare feet in the photo above.  Interesting, eh?  We were sitting in the seventh row, so the stage floor was just at eye level and we could see her little feet under the billowing skirt of her teal dress as she padded across the stage. 

I think the bare feet are adorable, but they've got me pondering.  Why no shoes?  Is she trying to relax and calm herself down? Is it a little rebellion against all the formality and adultness in her life?  Does she "hear" the music better through her feet?  Has she grown and the dress is now too short unless she is barefoot?  So many questions and so few answers.  Whatever the reason, I think it looks cute seeing her little feet under her frock

Update (emailed to me by a Jackie fan):  it seems to be fairly common knowledge among long-time Jackie fans (and I think that Jackie or her mom may have even tweeted something about it at one time), that when Jackie is wearing shoes she would at times catch the edge of her floor-length dresses and sort of stumble when walking, while the bare feet allow her to feel where she is walking and help prevent any mishaps.

And do you know where Jackie is appearing next - in the PBS special that will be taking place in Washington D.C. on July 4th. You go girl!

P.S. To find out more about Jackie and see video clips of Jackie singing, you should check out the blog Best of Jackie on the Web.

P.P.S  To see more photos from the Lewiston concert see this post.


  1. I remember her as a contestant. Wow, what talent and poise! This was truly a great way to kick-off your summer vacation for sure!


  2. I can anmswer some of those unanswered questions. One of them is she IS only 13, let her enjoy being a kid and not have her be criticised so much. Jackie has a lot of pressure on her, after all how many 13 year olds do what she does? the answer is NONE, ZERO. Jackie will get better at her professionalism as she matures, but for now, overlook her flaws, okay? After all, she IS only 13.

  3. Harsh, Choirguy, harsh. You mistake Grace's observations for criticism and, although you seem to agree with her, for some reason you want to censor her. Who are you trying to protect? Certainly not Jackie. There's no chance whatsoever that she'll read Grace's post.

  4. I agree, John, choirguy95's rebuke was harsh and uncalled for. I simply adore Jackie, but I don't adore some of her self-appointed protectors. I gush over her all the time, but I'm not blind to some of the things that she really does need to work on, 13 or not.

    If Jackie were attending a performing arts school, she would be required to perform in school-sponsored recitals or concerts, and would be critiqued and graded on her performance. She would learn from these comments and improve her art. The fact that Jackie is a professional who commands anywhere between $50-$150 per seat doesn't change this, nor does her age excuse her. I believe Jackie can take constructive criticism, and I would hope that Jackie & Co. wants to hear what its customers have to say.

    I only say these things because I'm tired of seeing good-hearted fans like Grace be scolded or shushed-up for saying nothing at all wrong. Most of Jackie's fans should know by now that her own parents have said, time and again, that she does not need this kind of 'protection' from fans. Nothing Grace said takes away from this lovely and talented young girl, or the appreciation that Grace obviously has for her.