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Barlow Senior Shares Soul in Song

When Harrison Lipton was a toddler growing up in Greenwich Village, he would climb to the top of the Bleecker Street Park jungle gym and belt out "O Sole Mio" for all to hear.

Now a senior at Joel Barlow High School, he says music is a biological need. "It's my thing, it's what I do, it's what I've become," said Lipton, who describes his style as "indie soul." Even at a young age, professional musicians recognized his talent. Piano lessons with Chris Coogan landed him a spot in Coogan's Weston-based Good News Gospel Choir at age 9, when he performed his first solo.

"I just wanted a place to sing," said Lipton, 17, who is of Jewish heritage. "It didn't have a religious meaning to me at all. ... Gospel music to me is a connection between the singer and the audience in such that you share a burden with them, so you share that struggle, you unite over that."

Lipton says he is inspired by musicians he has met. A cousin introduced him to Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon. In fifth grade, he and Sean performed together at that cousin's wedding. "That was a really great eye-opening experience. It made me feel like I could do it," said Lipton, who said he sends his original songs to Lennon, who offers advice and encouragement.

Lipton performs every year at First Night in Westport and Toquet Hall. He also plays in Fauves the Band with Westonite Jacob Aviner. In addition to performing in plays at Barlow, he says he is an avid reader and writer, which helps with lyrics.

A piece he wrote, "A Five Minute Love Story for the Hopeless Romantic," is being published in a student-run magazine in Westport. The Easton resident blogs his poems, which he sometimes puts to music.

He records his music using Garage Band on his laptop and Logic on the computers in the Barlow studio. His songs, Lipton says, have gone "viral" in the media center and the computer labs throughout the school.

Lipton, who is applying to colleges, hopes to someday write music for films. He is working on an album, which he hopes will be completed in 2011.

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