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September 24, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab




SRU music professor sees Pittsburgh singer in top spot


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Colleen Gray, Slippery Rock University associate professor of music and voice coach, thinks Jackie Evancho, the 10-year-old Pittsburgh singer with an operatic voice who is one of the four finalists on NBC’s popular “America’s Got Talent,” may well come away the winner.

            “For her to be able to make those beautiful sounds is outstanding. She offers a variety of styles, not just one type of sound. She truly has a bright future. This is really a good start. She has a very healthy voice, and she is well produced,” Gray said in commenting on the young singer who has the voice of a grown-up.

Gray said she is not biased by having worked with the girl’s uncle, Matthew Evancho, who served as an instructor of music at SRU, last spring filling for a faculty member on sabbatical.

While at SRU, Evancho taught an “Introduction to American Music Class,” a piano class and a course dealing with vocal conducting and applied piano.

“This young lady has a great personality, and she is a fine performer, has a fine attitude and a fine future. She knows how to do it,” Gray, a follower of the show, said. “Even when she lost her air at the end of a long note at the end of her performance, she just kept smiling. The audience was already on its feet and did not notice.”

“I think she is sweet and people just love her. Her talent is wonderful. She may go all the way,” Gray said.

Gray said she thinks the final vote, which will be done by viewers casting votes by phone, will be between Evanco and the blues/jazz contestant Michael Grimm. Other finalists are the singer Prince Poppycock, a flamboyant and talented showman, and Fighting Gravity, an acrobatic group that makes use of black lights.

The talent show offers a $1 million top prize along with a planned show in Las Vegas in addition to a national tour for the winner. Judges are Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, with Nick Cannon as the host.

After their performance, contestants are rated by the judges and then assigned a call-in phone number for the public to use in voting for their favorite.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.