Marissa Muro has moxie. She?s a Highlandtown native who took cabs to and from her singing telegram gigs and admits that one of her favorite songs is "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long." She admits to listening Rat Packers Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin for hours when she was a little girl.

"If it wasn?t these artists in my parent?s record collection, then I was listening to Broadway musicals and Italian opera. As a child, I didn?t really know what the operas were about, but liked the richness of the music, dramatic interpretation and the range of the singer?s voices that filled my ears," she said.

Muro, whose father was an opera singer in Rome, Italy, began studying voice at age 8. Primarily a student of classical music at the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Peabody Conservatory, her spirit would take her music in another direction.

"She?s wonderful, to know her is to love her, her voice is fantastic. She?s gone from this classical soprano to a deep, earthy wonderful jazz sound. Her CD just blew me away. I?d heard her do a lot of Broadway stuff, but [to hear it] in the soprano register, well, she?s reinvented herself for the cabaret style," said Pat Springer, Muro?s vocal coach, a teacher and pianist while at Peabody.

Muro notes that being a singer continues to drive her to "new heights" and to achieve new goals, such as to make a jazz CD titled "Charade."

"It offers listeners an array of old jazz standards. I would describe it as simple and sophisticated, yet sultry and alluring," she said.

Listeners agree, Springer said.

"Marissa was up here [Berkley Springs, W.Va.] a couple weeks ago and joined my husband [a light jazz trumpet player] and me as we played at a local restaurant. She sang a song and it brought down the house. It was just a ballad, a love song, but we had so many friends in the audience who said they were just touched by her performance."

Muro sings at company functions and holiday events. She also teaches private voice and beginner piano at her apartment on evenings and weekends.

"I sing because of how real it makes me feel inside, because I?ve got a story to tell. I don?t know how I would ever be able to live or cope without music. It?s like taking away paint from an artist or clay from a sculptor," she said.