by Linda Amiel Burns
The youngest artist to ever sing at this legendary venue, classical crossover star Jackie Evancho made her debut at the Café Carlyle. Two days before her debut, acclaimed singer Jackie Evancho celebrated her 17th birthday. I remember being enchanted when I first saw her on America’s Got Talent at age 10, looking and sounding like an angel. Jackie acknowledged that her voice “changed her life” and since that time has gained global recognition performing many concerts and releasing a string of platinum and gold albums, with sales of over 2.5 million in the U.S. alone. She has performed duets with such notable artists as Tony Bennett, Susan Boyle, Ill Volo, Placido Domingo Barbra Streisand, Chris Botti, The Tenors and Joshua Bell.
Jackie’s show at the Café Carlyle was more like a concert than a cabaret act and she was accompanied on the piano by her music director Peter Kiesewalter. It would have been nice to have more instrumentation to augment her songs and that would have made the arrangements more interesting and exciting. Jackie became famous singing such classics as Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” (her encore number) and “O Mio Babbino Caro” and the like, and now, as a teenager, is trying to evolve into pop territory having recorded some new singles such as “Safe & Sound” (T-Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, John Paul White & Joy Williams) which was included in this offering.
Jackie opened with “Viva La Vida” (Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin) and said that it was probably the first time that a Coldplay hit had ever been sung at the Café Carlyle. Unfortunately, it was difficult to understand the lyrics and an odd choice to begin the evening. She was more comfortable singing some of the material that was sung on America’s Got Talent, songs that began her career and rise to fame such as “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera and the duet she sang with Andrea Boccelli “Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro).”
Jackie said that last year she began writing songs and sang “Pedestal” (written with Dina Fanai, Heather Holley, Robert Kinkel) mentioning that it has helped her discover different parts of herself, especially her wish to expand as an artist. Many classical singers have a difficult time “crossing over” but it is important if you want to expand your repertoire and fan base. I’m sure that Jackie will be able to do this successfully, but it takes a different vocal technique with more emphasis on the lyrics and taking breaths in the right places. She referred to Judy Garland, who was her age when she scored with the iconic “Over The Rainbow” and this was a great choice for Jackie and perfect for her beautiful voice. However, she has to watch her phrasing in that song, breathe in the right places, and find the deeper meaning and longing that the song expresses. She talked of her admiration for Streisand and her rendition of “The Way We Were” was more successful and very moving.
The show was ballad heavy as that is Jackie’s primary repertoire and probably what her fans want to hear, such as “The Impossible Dream,” The Music of the Night, “Vincent. ” However, I am sure that this beautiful and charming young woman will continue to grow as an artist, find her inner voice and sing songs that express who she is and what she wants to say. Jackie said that she hoped we all had “fun” at the show, and it would have been great for her to sing some “fun” up tunes and lighter material as a change of pace.
A lovely moment was when Jackie talked about her transgender sibling and the headlines that this has engendered singing “We’ve Only Just Begun” dedicated to her sister.
Although Jackie Evancho is already a veteran and accomplished star at age 17, she has “only just begun” to develop and will continue to find songs that not only show off her extraordinary voice, but songs that express who she is as an artist, her life experience and joy. All in all, this was an outstanding Café Carlyle debut for this remarkable young performer at one of New York City’s chicest and most elegant venues.
Photos: David Andrako
Performances take place Tues-Sat at 8:45pm. thru April 22, 2017
Reservations can be made by phone at 212 744-1600
Café Carlyle is located in the Carlyle Hotel – 35 East 76th Street.