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Student Channels His Inner Crooner

When EJ Couloucoundis sang "You Raise Me Up" at a fifth-grade talent show, he had no aspirations of becoming a professional singer. But six years later, the Darien High School junior channels his inner Frank Sinatra as he performs at concerts, parties and fund-raisers.

"I was just goofing around," he said of the talent show performance. "I had no idea how to perform." However, he was inspired by how audience reacted. "People really got a kick out of it, and they gave me a standing ovation."

Shortly thereafter he began taking private singing lessons to prepare to perform professionally. He also gets training at Mannes College in New York. He sings opera, jazz and songs from Sinatra and Barbara Streisand. On his Myspace page, he describes himself as a young Robert Goulet.

"It's the music that suits my voice the best. My three favorite singers are Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti and Freddy Mercury," he said.

Recently he performed at the Oyster Fest and the Darien Chamber Wine Tasting . "My favorite part of singing is finding the one song that means the most to someone," he said. When he was performing at the Helen Ainson Breast Cancer fund-raiser, a woman asked him to sing "Moon River," the song she and her husband were married to. "She started crying. It was one of the best moments of my career so far."

He said he doesn't have much time to pursue other activities outside of school and singing, but that he wouldn't be focused on singing if he didn't love it. He also said that he wouldn't be able to perform without the love and support of his parents. "My parents are supportive to the nth degree. They handle everything, from finding jobs to sound equipment to mike checks. Overall, they are indispensable," he said.

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