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Jackie Evancho: From Second Place to the Top of the World || Entertainment

In competitions, there can usually only be one winner. However, when it comes to shows like "America's Got Talent" (which concluded its ninth season on Sept. 17 by crowning magician Mat Franco), remaining contestants still have the future at their finger tips even though they were not awarded the big prize. To prove that contestants all still have a real shot at achieving their dream, "America's Got Talent" Season 5 runner-up Jackie Evancho, now a platinum recording artist at the young age of 14, released her third studio album on Tuesday, Sept. 23 entitled "Awakening."

Since "America's Got Talent," Evancho has proven that you do not need to win the talent competition in order to reach new heights in your career. From performing for the President of the United States and the Royal Family to making regular appearances with the Tokyo Philharmonic, she has showed future contestants that it's not always about winning.

Her journey began when she signed with Columbia Records and took a jump start in pursuing her career shortly after the completion of "America's Got Talent" at the age of 10. Prior to her latest album, she released two other studio albums entitled "Dream with Me," which was certified Gold, and "Songs from the Silver Screen," which topped at #1 on the Billboard Classical Charts.

However, with her latest album "Awakening," Evancho diverted slightly away from the all-classical inspired albums by taking on some more contemporary songs. While the album still contains classical selections such as "Think of Me" from "Phantom of the Opera" and "Ave Maria," it also contains modern-day songs such as U2's "With or Without You" and "The Rains of Castamere" from HBO's "Game of Thrones."

In response to her diversion away from classical music towards pop, Evancho told Sony, "Of course there are always going to be some classical pieces, but I wanted to reinvent the pop songs and make them my own. The only thing that mattered was that the song spoke to me."

When questioned specifically about the recording of "With or Without You," Evancho told the Associated Press (AP) that she wanted to maintain the original "rocky feel" and sound, but add in her own classical crossover style to the track as well. It was a matter of balancing the two styles in order to create a new version of the hit track.

In addition to adding contemporary hits to her music collage, Evancho also released two originals. "Open Fields of Grace" and "Take Me There" are the first original tracks she recorded on an album. In an interview with AP, she stated, "I prefer to record original material because I make it my own, and it's like, I'm making my own thing almost." Evancho added that she felt like Taylor Swift when recording the original tracks, since Swift writes and records all of her songs for her albums.

Each song on the album, whether it be the re-making of a classical song, a cover of a pop song, or even an original, features her unique operatic voice that still sounds more suitable for someone twice her age. While some songs highlight her vast range, others, such as "The Rains of Castamere," remain in the lower register of her voice, which showcases her ability to sing these types of songs just as well as the ones that contain high notes. Although Evancho made alternations for this album, her voice still has the same clarity, maturity, and angelic tone that is a rarity, let alone in a 14 year-old, and she proves that she can sing more than the classical hits written years ago. By taking on new challenges, Evancho continues to climb higher than her second place stance, proving that no matter what you place, if you have a desire and drive, you can truly be on top of the world.

"Awakening" can be found in stores, on iTunes, and online, and a bonus version of the album with an additional CD containing newly recorded Christmas tracks can be purchased at Walmart. Future tour dates and music videos for her new tracks, "The Rains of Castamere" and "Think of Me," can be found at www.jackieevancho.com.

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