Jackie Evancho's Transgender Sister Defends Her Inauguration Gig: She's "Singing for Our Country"

Jackie Evancho and Juliet Evancho - 2015 Global Lyme Alliance Gala -Getty-H 2017
Chance Yeh/WireImage

Evancho, a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, and her sister sat down for an interview with 'CBS Sunday Morning,' airing this weekend.

As with many things related to the nation's President-elect so far, the booking of acts for Donald Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration has generated its share of controversy. But in an interview set to air on CBS Sunday Morning, Jackie Evancho's transgender sister, Juliet, says that her sibling's gig singing the National Anthem is an honor and that, after all, Jackie is "singing for our country."

In excerpts of the interview, America's Got Talent season-five runner-up Jackie, 16, tells reporter Michele Miller that she hopes the heat will eventually die down and people can focus on the music. "I hope to just kind of make everyone forget about rivals and politics for a second and just think about America and the pretty song that I'm singing," she says. "I'm hoping that I can bring people together."

Part of the criticism that Jackie — a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights — has faced comes from activists worried that the teen is lining up to support an administration that some critics fear might be more intolerant of the rights and needs of the LGBTQ community than the Obama White House. The issue is especially relevant because Evancho was joined for the interview by her transgender sister.

"The way I look at it is, Jackie is singing for our country, and it's an honor for her to be singing in front of so many people," says Juliet, 18, who was born Jacob and is currently engaged in a lawsuit against their local school district in Pennsylvania over the right to use women's bathrooms. Despite the controversy Vice President-elect and former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence caused by signing a religious freedom act (during his term) that many viewed as hostile to the LGBTQ community, Juliet keeps her focus on what her sister is doing. "So I feel that's really where I look at it. And that's where I'm going to leave it right now."

Earlier this week, Evancho sat down with the New York Times and said "I just kind of thought that this is for my country...so if people are going to hate on me it's for the wrong reason." Juliet told the Times that she won't be traveling with her family to Washington for the inauguration because she has "prior engagements."

So far, Evancho is on a short list of confirmed performers that includes Big & Rich, country rapper Cowboy Troy, most of the members of the Radio City Rockettes and Mormon Tabernacle Choir and just-confirmed acts Toby Keith, Jennifer Holliday and 3 Doors Down.

This story first appeared on billboard.com