Evancho takes fans to the movies

13-year-old singer to perform 'Songs from Silver Screen' with Oregon Symphony

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If you go

What: Jackie Evancho "Songs from the Silver Screen" with the Oregon Symphony.

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30.

Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, Portland.

Cost: $35 to $200.

Information: 503-228-1353 or orsymphony.org

So far in her young singing career, 13-year-old Jackie Evancho has made her mark singing the decidedly adult style of classical crossover music.

That doesn't mean she hasn't encountered some people who wanted to steer her toward more of a pop style of singing. Considering Evancho's age, pop might seem like the more obvious style for her to pursue.

"Sometimes record producers say they want this (different thing)," Evancho said in a phone interview. "A lot of them want more of a pop sound. But that's not me."

What feels right, Evancho said, is classical crossover.

"I don't know why it's my natural way of singing. It just kind of ended up being that way," she said. "I guess it's because it's the type of music that they performed in 'The Phantom of the Opera,' the movie, and I just loved it so much and still do. And classical crossover music to me is very unique. It's different and that's why I love it so much. I love very unique things, plus my vocal sounds awful in pop."

The film version of "The Phantom of the Opera" indeed was a life-changing experience for Evancho. After seeing that film at age 7, Evancho decided she wanted to sing. That started her on a journey that has taken her to a place where she has released her second full-length CD, "Songs from the Silver Screen," and doing shows in which she performs with locally based orchestras in cities across the United States.

"Songs from the Silver Screen," along with her first full-length album, "Dream With Me," and her 2010 holiday EP, "O Holy Night," have all topped the classical chart, and Billboard magazine ranked her as the top classical artist of 2011. Her PBS specials, "Dream With Me In Concert" and "Jackie Evancho: Music of the Movies," have been popular programs that have gone on to be re-aired during pledge drives for the network.

It's obviously more than Evancho ever envisioned for herself when she saw "The Phantom of the Opera" and decided she had to sing in a classically rooted style.

In fact, even today Evancho is anything but boastful about her talents.

"I never really thought that I had a good voice, but when I did sing I thought that I had some potential," she said. "I didn't think I was amazing and I didn't think I was good enough to sign a record deal and sing on CDs and stuff and be on TV more. I never really thought that I had that."

But that's what happened after Evancho's parents submitted one of their daughter's performance clips through YouTube audition for the NBC show "America's Got Talent." Evancho was selected to compete on the show's fifth season. She finished second, impressing judges and American audiences with her unusually rich soprano voice and the poise as a performer that was way beyond her years.

That was enough to net Evancho her deal with major label Columbia Records, and she was off and running with her career.

With "Songs from the Silver Screen" having topped Billboard's classical album chart, it appears the idea of Evancho singing songs from movies is a winner with fans.

"We kind of liked the idea and we loved that we could bring some songs that older crowds liked," Evancho said of the concept behind her new CD. "So we kind of thought it was a good idea, me meaning my mom, my dad and the record company."

The album features Evancho backed by a full orchestra, singing songs from across several eras of film. Producer Humberto Gatica's approach to the songs kept "Songs from the Silver Screen" very much in the classical vein -- even though most of the songs (such as "Pure Imagination" from "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" and "My Heart Will Go On" from "Titanic) would not be considered classical pieces.

Whether that was a good move is debatable. Every song essentially features a similar gentle tempo and a syrupy mix of strings, piano and woodwinds, which makes the album feel a bit homogenous and causes the songs blend into each other.

But the initial success of "Songs from the Silver Screen" suggests this is exactly the kind of music Evancho fans want.

Evancho's live shows, naturally enough, will emphasize material from "Songs from the Silver Screen."

"I'm going to be singing songs from 'Songs from the Silver Screen,' and I'm going to be singing some of my favorite songs from my old CD as well," Evancho said of her live show.

As with her "Dream With Me" tour, Evancho will perform with local orchestras in each city, and that should allow her to faithfully recreate the music on "Songs from the Silver Screen."

Evancho said she has come to enjoy performing in the orchestral setting.

"It was really fun and refreshing to have sung with an orchestra (on the "Dream With Me" tour) and to have the live sound," she said. "I'm more used to performing on television with the backing tracks, so it's really nice to perform with an orchestra."