SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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May 19, 2010

Singing custodian scooped up for school concert

SALEM — John Robinson was going about his business when he was talent-spotted at Salem High School, where he works.

"Just walking around the corridors, I'm occasionally singing a tune while I work," said Robinson, a longtime custodian at the high school.

Cynthia Napierkowski, the high school band director, heard the crooning custodian and tapped him to lend his vocal talent to a school concert.

"He sings while he works, and he has a wonderful voice," Napierkowski said.

Tonight, for the second time, Robinson will trade in his mop for a microphone and sing a solo during the school's annual Pops Concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

He will sing "Night and Day" by Cole Porter, accompanied by the high school jazz band.

"I have no problem embarrassing myself," Robinson said with a smile before rehearsal Monday night.

Napierkowski first approached Robinson about five years ago and invited him to sing at the school's holiday concert, where he performed "White Christmas." Five or six months ago, she asked if he would be willing to sing again this spring.

"I submitted three music choices for Mrs. Napierkowski," he said, "and 'Night and Day' was what the band was best suited for."

"I have no formal training," said Robinson, who grew up in Danvers. "No drama club, no chorus." But he's always enjoyed singing.

Robinson and his wife, Cynthia, have four children in the Salem schools: Maria, Sam, Lisa and Gwen. His daughter Maria is a senior at Salem High who will graduate in June. His son, Sam, is a sophomore in the jazz band, so he will be accompanying his father during tonight's performance.

"I think they enjoy it," Robinson said, in reference to his singing. "My daughter Lisa was in 'Bye Bye Birdie' at Collins Middle School this year, and I think she's happy about it."

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