Songs from the Silver Screen–Electronic Press Kit

DATE: September 10, 2012
CONTEXT: Jackie Evancho’s recording company has begun to issue publicity material for Songs from the Silver Screen, which is scheduled for release on October 2nd. In this interesting post, magique analyzes Columbia Records’ artistically sophisticated Electronic Press Kit (EPK). In the film we see fleeting shots of Jackie in photo shoots, Jackie in the recording studio, and Jackie on stage at the Orpheum in Los Angeles, where she recorded Music of the Movies. It’s a striking video that contains images of a side of Jackie’s life we’ve seen very little of, Jackie at work behind the scenes. (This, by the way, is our hundred-and-first post.)


This [EPK] is certainly a dramatic lifting of the curtain on the making of Songs From The Silver Screen, and Humberto Gatica puts his entire considerable rep on the line for Jackie (“her voice is so pure, and beautiful, and special!”). Further, we see an immediate and continued emphasis on Se from Cinema Paradiso, the most complex of all [the songs] on the CD, and the [kind of] song which is most like what some of us think Jackie excels in.

It would be naive to think that some of what is said here and on the Jackie Evancho Fan Club about the song choices is not heard by Team Evancho, and so in the EPK we see a follow-up with the “little song” Jackie-Jake duet, I See The Light, which everyone loves partly because of the novelty and dearness of seeing Jackie work with her big brother. We’re given a warm domestic scene in the recording studio with Jackie holding Maggie as she and Jake hold forth on I See The Light, as well as a number of additional informal scenes with Jake. I suspect that if there was footage of collaborators, Grammy-winner Joshua Bell, Chris Botti, or 2Cellos, at least part of it would be there; obviously they recorded in separate studios.

The EPK emphasis closes out with Music Of The Night, another fan favorite, with additional dialogue regarding this from Humberto Gatica (“one of the greatest songs ever composed…”). As the EPK backup footage uses scenes from Music of the Movies, we predominantly see Jackie in the tux she wore performing Se and Music of the Night. In the closing seconds of the EPK, Jackie twirls about in her lavish white dress and there is a quick shot of Jackie with The Tenors, but no voice-over mention of either them or Come What May.

Instead Jackie is saying, “This is a movie album, so I hope that my fans will relate to it with all the different movies, and it doesn’t matter what age.” We see “Featuring Songs From” and The Lion King, Mulan, and South Pacific are there along with the movies containing songs I’ve already mentioned.

Most of us feel Reflection from Mulan is also a strong song, but we had mixed feelings regarding The Circle of Life and Some Enchanted Evening. Who knows, the latter two may be great on the CD, although it was Pure Imagination and I See The Light that were offered as instant MP3s with download, and When I Fall In Love was the fan club freebie.

At :43 seconds, we get a sideways glance at the music on Jackie’s music stand, and it looks to be a combination of melody line music notes and printed lyrics beside them; more sheet music shots are at 1:56 and 2:05 (a slightly blurred shot). My sense from this footage is that Jackie can read the melody line, and we know she’s spent at least some time playing the violin, piano, and cello. More interesting than all of this, though, is footage showing glimpses into how Jackie is growing up and not growing up.

She’s quickly shown in eight or nine new outfits which, while age-appropriate, do demonstrate a much greater maturity. Certainly she can play the goofball with Jake, but especially in the opening footage proves herself a serene, awesomely-focused master of the music and the technology that goes along with it. If I had to choose one single shot to sum up the significance of this EPK footage, it would be the close-up of an exceptionally pretty and glamorous Jackie at :17. As Robert Redford said yesterday on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Look at her!”

Buy Jackie’s music in her Music Store

Join the official Jackie Evancho Fan Club

Pledge Support for PBS — Receive Jackie’s Music of the Movies DVD and CD

Pre-order Jackie’s Songs From The Silver Screen

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It Gets Even Better

DATE: August 20, 2012
CONTEXT: Admirers of Jackie Evancho report that they listen to her recordings over, and over, and over again, more than they do the recordings of any other singer.  Manifold reasons might explain that. One of them is her superior use of the basic tools singers use to inject emotion and create beauty, singing on tune, shaping notes, employing vibrato. In this post, FRIDAY BRIDGE, walks us through some of the improvements he detects in Jackie’s use of these techniques. The song he uses as his example will be on her about-to-be released CD album, Songs from the Silver Screen, and it is featured in her PBS Great Performances special, Music of the Movies.

Many songs on Music of the Movies are worthy of praise, but “Se” from Cinema Paradiso showcases the continuing rapid improvement in Jackie Evancho’s delivery.

Jackie is now using a more agile voice. Her ability to transition quickly from note to note (her vocal agility) is coming along very nicely, and should get even better.

She also seems to be using a lighter voice (an effect that might be natural for her, given the higher-than-normal range of “Se”). If true, this gives her yet another tool in her already impressive array of tools and techniques.

Jackie has definitely “upped her game” with this song. Her vocal ability grows year by year. Recent developments cause me to wonder if we are seeing some of the effect of time spent (short as it was)  this past July with Sumi Jo, a world-class Coloratura Soprano. As most everyone knows by now, Sumi is a practitioner of Bel Canto, a way of singing designed to further beautify the score through various additional vocal techniques. Sometimes these techniques enhance a score by adding a little extra edge onto a passage, other times they take the edge off of a passage, smoothing it out.

One piece of evidence in favor of that theory is Jackie’s vibrato, which lately has taken a big stride forward. In “Se”, her vibrato seems simultaneously stronger, yet airier and slightly quicker than it was before. It is becoming transparent and quite, quite beautiful.

Another piece of evidence: listen to how quickly and lightly she can transition from note to note, even adding small flourishes that are delicate, not at all ostentatious, but subtle and beautiful.

In “Se” she now makes little leaps from note to note, passage to passage, and “pops” the note where last year she more likely would glide from note to note without many little flourishes. Listen to how deftly she enters the high passages in “Se”. Her note shaping, always exquisite, is better than ever.

Even her pitch control shows improvement. Yes, I know many thought she has had perfect pitch all along. But while it was very good at age nine, and amazing at age eleven, by the time she reached St Petersburg, two months ago, it was perfect. There, she fearlessly punched out the first notes of the high passages in Con Te Partiro as if she knew the right notes would be there when she called on them. They did not fail her. She took this leap of faith in front of an audience well in excess of 50,000. To my ear, she now has genuinely perfect pitch. Her voice locks in on a note, and holds it on pitch without any perceptible wobble.

These are little things of huge importance.