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Jackie Evancho On Speaking Out Through Music

"For me to get out there and voice my opinion through music — it's different for me," Jackie Evancho says.
"For me to get out there and voice my opinion through music — it's different for me," Jackie Evancho says.

Jackie Evancho first commanded attention as a 10-year-old, when she was the runner-up on America's Got Talent. The young singer won over the judges and the country with her performances of classical arias and a voice that seemed to belong to someone far beyond her years.

Now 16, Evancho has released seven albums — including the new half-classical, half-pop album Two Hearts, which features some of her own original music. She has writing credits on four of the songs on Two Hearts, and she says they're "a little bit more honest."

"It is nerve-wracking for me to be singing these songs, more so than my classical stuff," Evancho tells NPR's Michel Martin. "I'm a shy person, and so for me to get out there and voice my opinion through music — it's different for me."

In January, Evancho waded into the realm of politics when she sang the national anthem at President Trump's inauguration, at which many other artists would not agree to perform. She says she had to think carefully about the decision, but she's ultimately glad she did it.

"It was never about politics for me," she says. "It's about the president coming to me and asking for me to perform at this historical event — that will be in history for as long as I can remember. So of course I want to be a part of that. It's a huge honor."

But Evancho also says she thinks the Trump administration's rescinding of federal protections for transgender students is "a dangerous decision." Her sister Juliet is transgender, and Evancho has tweeted at President Trump to ask that he meet with the two of them to discuss transgender rights.

"She's had things thrown at her, things shouted at her," Evancho says of her sister. "There's so much going against her ... The last thing that [Juliet] and people like her need to worry about is which bathroom they can use."

Hear more of Evancho's conversation with Michel Martin at the audio link.

Web editor Rachel Horn contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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