Since age 8, Jackie Evancho has been stunning YouTube viewers with the maturity of her voice, as seen here performing “Think of Me” from “The Phantom of the Opera”. But it wasn’t this performance that has people talking; Entertainment Weekly reports now 10-year old Evancho received a standing ovation from the judges on America’s Got Talent August 10th for her rendition of the Giacomo Puccini aria “O Mio Babbino Caro” and advances to the semifinals. Some British news organizations like The Independent and The Sun have already begun comparing her to Britain’s Got Talent singer Susan Boyle.
Another child “prodigy” (though, in her family they don’t use the “p” word) would be Emily Bear of Rockford, Illinois. At age 2, her grandmother overheard the child playing a C scale with three fingers. She was referred on to Emilio del Rosario, a teacher at the Music Institute of Chicago. Bear composes her own music, but enjoys jazz, Mozart, and a variety of musical styles- all by age 6, according to WGN 9. The WGN 9 coverage of Bear has been seen by 11.77 million YouTube viewers as of this writing.
“This is all unknown territory for all of us,” her mother Andrea Bear told WGN 9. “I heard about kids like this, I never thought I’d have one.”
Bear performed at the White House in 2008, made her orchestral debut with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra in March, 2009, and is now a frequent guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show according to Bear’s site. She talked about meeting the President, the Jonas Brothers, and breaking her nose twice in a row. You can see her perform part of a Mozart concerto and an original composition titled “Once Upon a Wish” on the show video site. As a composer at age 7, Bear had indisputable talent and had by that time written, by her count 126 original compositions from age 3 on.
A search on YouTube of child prodigies brings up numerous 5 through 8-year olds who can play virtuoso guitar, piano, or violin; they may be gifted singers or dancers. Video views rank in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, as singer Declan Galbraith’s YouTube performance of “Tell Me Why” has done (see it here). How many of these prodigies will go on to perform professionally and regularly is anyone’s guess. Because they are learning and intensely involved in their art at such an early age, their interest may flag or their parents may feel pushing their kids to perform nationally is not in the child’s best interest. For performers like Evancho and Bear, it will be important for them to balance their love of music with ordinary kid interests like making friends, going to school, and having fun to get the most out of their childhood.
Jackie Evancho, “Think of Me – Phantom of the Opera Jackie 8 yrs” YouTube
Emily Exton, “‘America’s Got Talent’: Get us to the semifinals already” Entertainment Weekly
Jackie Evancho, “America’s Got Talent YouTube Special – Jackie Evancho” Youtube
Relaxnews, “America’s version of the new Susan Boyle” The Independent
Nadia Sam-Daliri, “Mini SuBo thrills America” The Sun
WGN 9, “The Next Mozart? 6-Year Old Piano Prodigy Wows All” YouTube
Emily Bear, “7-year-old Pianist Emily Bear Performs!” Ellen DeGeneres Show
Declan Galbraith, “Tell Me Why-Declan Galbraith” YouTube