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Choose one for Jackie Evancho: Stardom now or a real singing career later?

September 8, 2010 | 12:43 pm

I was delighted to discover during Tuesday night's "America's Got Talent" that my handwringing about Jackie Evancho's falsely adult sound and the evils of network television was premature. Her performance of the "Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 "Requiem" was astonishing in all the right ways. Listen on the clip above. The sound was natural and uncovered, vibrato was achieved with very little wagging of the chin (a dead giveaway for poor technique) and her phrasing and intonation are the envy of many a professional.

Much of the anxiety music teachers express when they talk about Evancho's voice is worry about it being permanently damaged before it reaches full potential. If the 10-year-old girl wishes to pursue a career as an opera singer, this is a justifiable concern, but what if she doesn't want to wait until she's 30 or 40 (the age most opera singers become established) for the money to roll in?

Evancho has a rare natural talent and will have it for the rest of her life. But the Simon Cowells of the world don't trade in futures. The inevitable Christmas record will sell millions of copies, but then what?

If Evancho follows the same road as Charlotte Church, she will be worth $40 million by the time she finishes high school -- piles more than she would ever make as an opera singer.  By that point she likely will have destroyed her voice -- but she would no longer need it to earn a living.

The Julie Andrews model is: perform in a weekly revue and on radio while taking singing lessons; move to minor music roles in teenage years and then debut on Broadway at 19.

Evancho's parents have a tough decision to make even if she doesn't advance, especially since child stars are very rarely successful as adult performers.

Since "America's Got Talent" viewers are voting to decide Jackie's fate, she is, in a way, our responsibility. If you were her parents, what would you do? Jump for the sure thing (record deal now) or wait to see what happens when she is an adult and can make her own decision about her voice?

Discuss in our comments section below.

-- Marcia Adair

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Hear Jackie Evancho, the 10-year-old with an operatic voice

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