Some are in Awe of Jackie Evancho’s Singing — Others Hear Only Flaws

Ehkzu

An online writer who goes by the name Ehkzu has published on his blog Ehkzu Artzu an excellent article, ‘Listening to Musical Experts Tell Me What’s Wrong with Jackie Evancho‘.

Ehkzu considers two categorical responses to Jackie’s singing, awe and indifference.

The musician who plays flawlessly but without ‘heart’, or the music expert interested only in technical competence, are apt to find Jackie’s music uninteresting.

Critics who say Jackie is technically flawless give her a back-handed compliment. They overlook her artistry, her genius for interpretation, those elements of beauty in her singing that have nothing to do with technical perfection.

We agree with Ehkzu that those who listen with both heart and head find Jackie’s singing overwhelmingly beautiful.

Read Ehkzu’s essay; it will get you thinking.

Ehkzu 1

17 thoughts on “Some are in Awe of Jackie Evancho’s Singing — Others Hear Only Flaws

  1. For those of you who are interested in hearing Jackie losing control of her voice (at the grand old age of ten!) you might care to listen closely to the final note of “Con te Partirò” (Time to Say Goodbye) at the end of her performance on America’s Got Talent.(http://youtu.be/3Aizy_C9Z0Q) Woops!

    For the record I consider Jackie Evancho to have the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard but the poor little thing just ran out of puff at that point. Ave Maria suffered in the same way. Her lungs were not yet big enough to do what she knew she needed to do but she gave it all anyway. Gotta love her!

    I remember hearing a Neil Young song on one of his albums back in the 70s and was amazed to hear him bump the microphone stand when he began a harmonica solo. That “mistake” personalized him and in general all musicians for me for ever more as before then I thought that all albums were perfect and so nothing I could ever aspire to!

    I also make mistakes at work (I’m a computer programmer) but that doesn’t in any way invalidate my awesome brilliance. (My boss would disagree).

  2. I reject the false dichotomy implied by the title of this article, but I don’t think the author intended it. I believe he understands that there are those in the middle—perhaps the majority of Jackie fans—who are not only in awe of Jackie but remain so even upon hearing the occasional flaw. The reason for my response is that (as the title implies) there are fans who do see Jackie’s public in black-and-white terms – as either with her or against her. And worse, “against her” means any un-glowing remark or criticism whatsoever.

    Several things make me very uncomfortable with certain responses to criticism. One is the assumption that hearing and mentioning an out-of-tune note, for example, means that the “fault-finder” is sitting and wringing his or her hands in anticipation of ripping on Jackie’s every mistake. Related to this is the apparent assumption that a simple observation is an assault on Jackie’s character.

    In his blog post, Ehkzu observed that Jackie “snuck in an extra inhalation” during her Capitol Fourth performance of the national anthem. Recently, on Jackie Evancho’s official forum, a long-time fan mentioned hearing Jackie’s voice falter twice during that same performance. The fan club member’s comment was just as benign as Ehkzu’s observation, but the member was absolutely jumped on for pages and pages afterward. Someone even created another thread to drive the knife even deeper, and by implication, as a warning to anyone else who dares to repeat the offense (the second thread was finally deleted by a forum moderator, thankfully). I could not believe what I was seeing.

    I don’t know why it is, exactly, that Ehkzu can “get away with” making a benign observation about a mechanical aspect of Jackie’s performance, but yet another fan (who has written thousands of glowing words and even created a YouTube video series in tribute to Jackie) is burned at the stake. It’s an unanswered rhetorical question, and has nothing to do with Ehkzu (I enjoy his commentary and analyses), except to the extent that he may be perceived by über fans as a general in the war on critics.

    Regarding the so-called “opera experts” who seem to have made a career out of attempting to undermine Jackie’s credibility as a performer, and sometimes even to defaming Jackie herself, or her family, I believe the number of these detractors has diminished over the last couple of years to only a handful. Further, the noise they attempt to make is inconsequential to Jackie’s career, because by now, most everyone who matters to Jackie (those who buy her CDs and attend her concerts) can either see through their game, or don’t even know they exist. Even though this handful of opera desperadoes sometimes make valid (but often irrelevant) points about the mechanics of singing, or whatever, their own credibility is tainted by revealed hostility and extreme prejudice.

    Sadly, though, some Jackie fans have fallen into the trap of strenuously arguing with these people instead of letting them grumble and sweat in their Viking costumes (actually, I wish some fans would refrain from this because they come across as irrational and ridiculously hyperbolic. Ehkzu on the other hand has proven himself to be a capable debater, and I would give him credit (along with Jackie proving herself, of course) for lowering the number of combatants). As for others, I feel that this long-fought “opera snobs vs. Jackie fans” skirmish has conditioned some of Jackie’s most vehement defenders to look for potential trouble where if doesn’t exist—even on home turf. Have the weapons of the war on opera snobs been turned toward adoring fans who dare make any un-glowing remark about a Jackie performance? I may be making too much of the association, but at least one forum member directly equated the two in a response to the above-mentioned remark made on Jackie’s forum.

    This kind of over-zealous and hostile reaction to harmless observations unfairly amplifies them into reckless criticism (the word criticism seems to be synonymous with disapproval and rejection of Jackie the human being, rather than the more nuanced meaning relating to objective analysis). Labeling and condemning as a critic a fan who makes an unpopular observation throws the baby out with the bathwater. Loyal and loving fans have been pushed away from Jackie’s forum because of this behavior.

    One of the first things fans will point out when asked about Jackie’s character is her inner strength and stated determination to ignore criticism. She is her own critic. She’s analytical and takes lessons from her mistakes so that she does not make them again. Yet some of those same fans will, paradoxically, come to her (unasked-for) rescue at the first sign of a perceived slight – no matter how benign to the objective reader. I wish this would stop, but it hasn’t, and I don’t see any sign of it waning. There are lots of wonderful fans with whom I enjoy discussing Jackie, so I will continue to associate myself with them. But I don’t think the hostile fans realize what damage they have done and are doing to the reputation of Jackie fans in general, and perhaps even to Jackie (as her father might argue). There is a subset of Jackie fans who have a reputation for ascribing utter perfection to Jackie, and for even projecting the burden of a divine mission onto her. This is benign enough, I guess. But there is yet another set who are arrogantly over-protective and sometimes even vicious. I don’t imagine that this latter set of fans can see the hypocrisy in this.

    • Thank you, GMac, for your balanced and well considered comment. You accomplished in your comment what we’ve lately been trying to say, perhaps too obliquely. If you don’t mind, we’ll publish your comment as a separate post. .

    • The thing I’ve learned is that as a performer in anything, music, acting sports, whatever it is, when you are on a world stage, you have to expect these things to happen; it does to them all; Jackie has to learn this. She cares so much about what people think of her, which is great; however, she will get these people. why are they like this? For the same age old reason, jealousy. It goes with her profession, and because she’s a star. The thing she will have to do is, as painful as it may seem, is to block it out. She has to if she wants her career to survive. We tend to forget she’s only 13

    • Thank you for this post. I recently left the JEFC because I was attacked for making a critical comment about her July 4th performance. The comment I made was this: “She did not seem as connected to the music.” I thought it was just an observation, and certainly just my opinion, but I was absolutely jumped on. Only one person made a civilized reply to my comment, and that was to explain that the tempo of the song (Can you feel the love tonight) was faster than normal. I had noticed this but made the fatal mistake of not mentioning it as a possible reason for the disconnectedness I observed.

      After reading a few replies and trying to explain myself, I gave up and left the forum. I was not interested in being bullied. My opinions were clearly not appreciated, and I did not feel welcome any longer. I now follow Jackie’s career a lot less closely than before, but hopefully this website can restore my faith. It seems much more down-to-earth and welcoming of people who don’t believe Jackie is an actual angel, just a girl with a splendid voice.

  3. Can’t we just request that those people who choose to find fault, and don’t “appreciate” Jackie’s music, just listen to some other musical artist that they do like, – - and don’t waste any more time listening to Jackie, and then trying to convince all the rest of us that we are just stupid, uneducated jerks because we do???!!!!! No matter how much Jackie and 10 million other people back east there love the Philadelphia Eagles, and just think they are absolutely the greatest; – - and feel the ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS are a joke, and have no business playing baseball at all,
    I don’t share that view. I like my Arizona Diamondbacks. But, I would never try to convince someone else they are wrong for liking the Eagles by pointing out some supposedly professional opinions to the contrary, – any more than I expect you to print similar negative comments about my Diamondbacks (though I could give you several reasons should you find yourself at a loss here). All people’s tastes, likes, and emotional responses are different. I happen to love Jackie’s music. I may listen to it over and over and over again more hours every week than any other fan. I do it because I love the sound, I love the way it lifts me up inside. and I love how happy I feel after hearing it. I hope Jackie keeps singing for another 50 or 75 years, cause as long as I can arise each morning, see her cute picture on my computer desktop (which makes me smile – and giggle just a little) – - then listen to the songs “The Lord’s Prayer” and “To Believe” which fill my soul with happiness and enthusiasm for this day to come, – - I intend to do just that!!!!! I thank the good Lord for her life, and the music she makes that enriches this world for so many of us “unprofessional music critics” that believe these sounds are made by our own special “ANGEL” – - who is but offering them in person, on behalf of us all, to our living GOD!
    – Clark

    PS – Bless you, too, – - for keeping “Thebestofjackieontheweb” alive for us all. Thanks!

  4. Jackie appears to be innocent, capable, nice, genuine, beautiful, a good daughter, excellent performer, smart, did I say beautiful..
    Some people HATE THAT…..

    • The ones who dislike Jackie’s talent are jealous of it, and it is so pityfully obvious. Jackie Evanco for millions of others, and me too, is a true gift from God to the world’s music industry. A tremendous example for young people to follow because she is all those things listed above by Hosepipe. Jackie Evanco as Hosepipe says “is”, innocent, capable, nice, genuine, beautiful, a good daughter, excellent performer, smart, and yes beautiful; and again I’d like to say, a Great Example for young folks to follow! To follow David Foster’s lead, “I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this.”

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