When a new president is inaugurated, high-profile artists usually clamor for the chance to perform at the big day. For example, Aretha Franklin performed at President Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009 and Beyoncé sang at his second inauguration in 2013. But Donald Trump has had some trouble finding an A-lister to sing him into office, which isn't exactly surprising, considering how hard many artists campaigned against Trump during the election.
In November, a member of Trump's inaugural committee incorrectly reported that Elton John was set to perform, a claim that John's reps quickly shut down. Broadway star Idina Menzel called it "karma" and suggested that Trump sing at the event himself, since he "probably thinks he has a great voice."
A little over a month before Inauguration Day, Trump announced he had a performer lined up: 16-year-old Jackie Evancho. Here's what you need to know about the teenager slated to sing at Trump's inauguration.
1. America's Got Talent made her famous.
In 2010, Evancho was selected as a contestant on season five of America's Got Talent. She had already auditioned (unsuccessfully) twice when her parents submitted a video to the show's YouTube competition. Evancho, who was only 10 at the time, and had a huge voice and a penchant for singing big, difficult operatic pieces, finally made it onto the show.
2. Her appearance on the show was a little controversial.
Evancho placed second in her season of America's Got Talent. But she faced some controversy in the quarter-finals when critics accused her of lip-syncing during her performance of "O mio babbino caro." She dispelled the rumors by performing a voice exercise during the next live show.
3. She may be young, but she's already had a lot of success.
Currently just 16 years old, Evancho wasn't even eligible to vote for the man she's slated to sing into office, but none of this has spared her from criticism for the decision to sing at Trump's inauguration. That said, the Presidential Inaugural Committee cited her youth when it praised the announcement. "We're delighted to have Jackie Evancho performing the National Anthem at the 58th Presidential Inaugural Ceremony," said Boris Epshteyn, director of communications for the committee. "As the youngest solo artist to ever go platinum, she is a true role model and inspiration for people young and old in our country and around the globe. Jackie represents the best and the brightest of America."
4. She's prolific.
Evancho has already made a ton of music. Since 2009, she has released six studio albums, three live albums, one EP, and 31 singles. Five of her six albums have peaked at no. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums charts. Until recently (more on that below), most of her releases have been compilations of covers and she's found a specific niche in Christmas music. She released her second Christmas album in five years this fall. So, even if you don't recognize Evancho by name or face, there's a decent chance you've heard her belt out Christmas standards while doing your holiday shopping.
5. Her career has gone beyond singing.
In addition to her prolific musical career, Evancho has also found time to dabble in other areas, like acting and modeling. In 2012, she had a small role in The Company You Keep, which starred Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf. She's also worked as a model and even starred in Guess Kids campaign in 2012.
6. She's performed for Obama too.
Inauguration Day won't be Evancho's first time performing during an official ceremony. In 2010, she performed for (and met) Obama at the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree. While her decision to perform at the inauguration is inherently political, Evancho has yet to address it as such, instead treating her presidential performances more or less equally. "I felt really honored to get a chance to perform for the president again," she said while announcing her plans to sing on Inauguration Day.
7. She has a transgender sister.
Adding to the controversy surrounding Evancho's announcement is the fact that her sister, Juliet, recently came out as transgender. Juliet, 18, is involved in a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania school district over restroom access and has been vocal about her experiences as a transgender student and the way in which Jackie's fame has impacted her life and her transition.
"Jackie's newfound fame put our entire family under a microscope. This made things even more difficult for me," she wrote for Teen Vogue. "Now, I not only worried about what my family thought of me, but I also worried about some trashy magazine trying to make a spectacle out of me if they found out, and it hurting my family."
Evancho's personal connection to the transgender community, a group that has felt a great deal of fear in the weeks since the election, has been a big talking point for critics of her decision to perform. She touched on the issue briefly in an interview with People. "I have a transgender sister and so a lot of hate goes towards us," she said, according to The Daily Beast. "I also get a lot of love. We pay most attention to that."
Some members of the LGBTQ community have tweeted Evancho, asking for her support.
Evancho has two other siblings, a younger brother named Zachary and a younger sister named Rachel. Evancho, her siblings, and their parents, Lisa and Michael Evancho, are Catholic and live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
8. She doesn't only perform classical.
After several years of churning out classical albums, Evancho recently made the transition to pop with her single "Apocalypse." The ballad, which has lyrics like, "I thank God you found me," has been described as having a "strong faith component."
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