16-year-old Jackie Evancho will perform the National Anthem at the inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday, seven years after she made her television debut on America’s Got Talent.
Evancho was a contestant on the fifth season of the NBC series. She took part in the show’s YouTube competition and received the most votes of anyone; at that point, she had already been posting videos of herself singing on YouTube since 2008.
Her original America’s Got Talent audition aired on August 10th, 2010. Evancho performed the song “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera Gianni Schicchi.
Evancho received a standing ovation from the entire audience and from the three judges, Piers Morgan, Sharon Irving, and Howie Mandel. Mandel said that the show had been looking for “that one moment, that one gem, that one star from a place we’ve never looked before,” and he said that Evancho was that star.
Piers Morgan had a hard time believing that the voice he heard was actually coming out of a 10 year old girl. He also predicted that America would go crazy for her, which turned out to be quite accurate.
“I’m gonna tell you, that is one of the most extraordinary performances I’ve ever seen on America’s Got Talent,” Morgan said. “You’ve got it all. You’ve got the whole thing.”
Sharon Irving said that Evancho’s performance was “absolutely amazing” and that “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The performance was so unbelievable, in fact, that a lot of viewers literally did not believe it, speculating that she had been lip-syncing. On the following night’s live show, Howie Mandel said that no performers are allowed to lip sync on America’s Got Talent, and he had her sing a note to prove it.
For her semifinal performance, Jackie Evancho sang “Time to Say Goodbye.” Once again she received a standing ovation, and she made it into the top 10. She then performed “Pie Jesu,” which got her into the final four, and finally, she sang “Ave Maria” on the September 14th episode.
In the season 5 finale, it came down to Jackie Evancho and Michael Grimm, but Grimm was ultimately declared the winner. That surprised a lot of people including Michael Grimm himself, who was visibly shocked when his name was read.
Still, Evancho’s career took off in the years following America’s Got Talent, and she has since released six albums, including a platinum album and gold album. She became the youngest person to ever perform a solo concert at Lincoln Center, and she has performed for President Barack Obama and Pope Francis.
Evancho’s latest album, Someday at Christmas, was released on October 28, 2016. It reached number 93 on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Billboard Classical Albums chart. Her participation in the inauguration was announced in December, and Donald Trump subsequently took credit for the fact that her Christmas album was selling well during December.