OK, time for a confession.
I voted against “America’s Sweetheart” Jackie Evancho. Yeah, I said it.
See, before Jackie became a star on “America’s Got Talent,” the 10-year-old singer from Gibsonia, Pa., was a contestant in the Huntington Arts Council’s annual “Got Talent Long Island?” competition that I helped judge in May. Jackie didn’t win, though she did tie for the “Rising Star, 13 & Under” title.
Now, I don’t know if I sunk her chances or not, since I was only one of six judges on the panel, including the great singer-songwriter Jen Chapin and WFUV’s also great John Platt.
But I do know that Jackie wasn’t my favorite – not even close. I remember liking her fellow “Rising Star” winners, Merrick’s Maria Pragias and Syosset’s Nicole Rampanelli, more. I remember liking Fort Salonga’s Hallie Hugues, who ended up winning the competition, even more.
And I remember thinking that Hempstead’s Stephanie Sorel had the makings of a star. I still think that, actually.
It’s not that little Jackie doesn’t have a remarkable voice, because she does. It’s not that she doesn’t have great stage presence. I guess I just value a singer’s connection with a song more and when I saw Jackie up close belting out her number, I didn’t quite believe it.
That said, she’s way better now, after months on this season’s “America’s Got Talent.” And if she wins “America’s Got Talent” tonight over Michael Grimm or Prince Poppycock, I will readily admit I was wrong about her. If she does win, though, I gotta say there’s a whole lot of Long Island talent that gave her a run for her money and can easily do it again.