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High hopes

F-M’s Nick Ziobro and CBA alumna Marissa Mulder impress audience with Van Heusen tunes

Nick Ziobro, 16, of Manlius, sings at an event at the Fayetteville Free Library earlier this month

Nick Ziobro, 16, of Manlius, sings at an event at the Fayetteville Free Library earlier this month Jim Hughes

— Mulder, who’s about 12 years older than Nick, is a blossoming cabaret star in New York City, but she grew up in Syracuse and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in DeWitt before attending SUNY Geneseo.

Wearing a low-cut glittering gold gown, she opened with “Ring-a-Ding-Ding,” the 1962 Frank Sinatra hit, before singing “Swinging on a Star,” the 1944 song sung by Bing Crosby in the film, “Going My Way.” Then she reflected on what she heard before she took the stage.

“I am such a fan of the fantastic Nick Ziobro,” Mulder said. “And he’s only 16. What’s he going to sound like when he’s 20?”

Throughout her 90-minute set, Mulder told fascinating stories about Van Heusen’s frustrated scholastic career, his partnerships with lyricists Johnny Burke, Sammy Cahn and Eddie DeLange and his secret career as an U.S. Army Air Force test pilot. For instance, she said the composition “Imagination” was originally written by Chet Babcock when he was 11 years old. Johnny Burke put words to it in 1940, and it became a hit for the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Mulder’s girlish voice, often compared to the late Blossom Dearie, is particularly suited to tunes like “Personality” and “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.” But she also displays a bigger, bolder approach on songs such as “I Thought about You,” “Look to Your Heart” and her soaring closer, “Come Fly with Me.”

Both Mulder and Ziobro were ably backed by keyboardist Bill Zeffiro, saxophonist Joe Carello, bassist Darryl Pugh and drummer Larry Luttinger.

Syracuse’s Jimmy Van Heusen, who died in 1990 in California, left a lasting legacy of hopeful and hummable songs. Now, young entertainers such as Nick Ziobro and Marissa Mulder have their chance to create lasting legacies of passionate performances of pop gems past, present and future.

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