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Singer aims to turn ‘Mistake’ into success

By Kris DiLorenzo

ARDSLEY — Cristina Franciosa has bounced from basketball to banking to pop singer, and it’s clear that her last stop is where she belongs. The Hartsdale resident, a graduate of Ardsley High School and former shooting guard on its Panthers basketball team, has staked her claim in the territory of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

On May 22, the 27-year-old released her second EP, “Greatest Mistake,” little more than a year after her first, “Cristina F: The EP.” Both are available in MP3 and CD format online through iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon, and Spotify.

While most new singers pay a lot of dues giving solo performances in obscure coffeehouses, Franciosa has performed at Irvington Town Hall and Yonkers Riverfest, and in June 2014 sang the national anthem at Madison Square Garden before a basketball game between the New York Liberty and the Los Angeles Sparks. That gig tickled Franciosa, who at one time aspired to playing in the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association).

With the exception of the moody “Single” on her first EP, Franciosa’s polished, self-penned songs are fizzy and upbeat; Jack Hoffman of Ardsley, a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, produced, arranged, engineered, and mixed the music at his studio in Hartsdale.

“Be Happy,” from the first EP, is a danceable, optimistic tune that resulted from a difficult period in 2011, shortly after Franciosa graduated from Salisbury (Md.) University. “Everything was so depressing. I just wanted to know — how could I be happy? I was just so upset, I wanted to be happy,” she explained in an interview at The Muzik Store in Dobbs Ferry, where she has been store manager for a year and a half. “The first line, ‘The sun rising through my window with a gold glow,’ that was true. When the sun would rise, my living room would be a gold color, and it was the best thing ever. Just little things like that actually did make me happy.”

The YouTube video of the song shows Franciosa performing it at Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park and looking happy indeed, unleashing her strong, clear voice.

“Greatest Mistake,” set in the 1950s, is a version of her own serendipitous experience. “It’s like if you take a wrong turn and you find the most beautiful beach in the world,” she said. “It’s like seeing someone for the first time, and you’re not expecting it, but you fall in love, but it’s frowned upon. In the ‘50s a lot of things were frowned upon. It turns out to be the best night, the most magical night. It’s supposed to make you feel good. I had a great night one time.”

The 2014 film “The Theory of Everything,” starring Eddie Redmayne as physicist Stephen Hawking, also played a part in the genesis of the song, she said. “In the scene where Hawking sees his future wife for the first time, the way they were looking at each other under the fireworks just inspired me,” she said.

Franciosa wasn’t inspired, however, by her job as a customer processing associate at Pershing, LLC (Bank of New York Mellon) in Lake Mary, Fla. After working there from 2012 to 2014, she quit to be a full-time singer-songwriter.

She had hidden her light under a bushel while growing up. Despite her precocious efforts, her father, Steve, a contractor and landlord, and mother, Tina, a secretary at Dows Lane Elementary School in Irvington, had no idea of her talent. “My parents said they used to hear me as a baby; I would sing in the crib,” Franciosa said. Listening to music on MTV also influenced her, and while at Irvington Middle School she began writing songs.

“I always wanted to do music,” she explained. “I was very shy when I was a kid and I was afraid of possibly being good at something. My parents knew I sang in my room, but I don’t think they took it seriously. I did a lot of sports, and I wasn’t doing any music, I wasn’t playing any instruments. Singing was just a thing I did privately.”

However, as a high school softball and basketball player at Ardsley, after the family moved from Irvington, she sang at every practice. “I was very obnoxious,” Franciosa admitted. “I was everyone’s personal human radio. I did a lot of Ethel Merman, so I guess that’s why people didn’t think I was serious about singing.”

It was at college that she got her first inkling of how her voice affected others. “I always sang in my room, very loud, and I would see the shadows of the feet under the door.” When she won an “American Idol”-type competition at school, her parents and younger siblings, Stephen and Melanie, were surprised.

Now she performs with The F Band, musicians she met through The Muzik Store: Rob Scordia on guitar, Gabe Todaro on bass and Moog synthesizer, and E.J. Rios on drums. Sometimes, Franciosa plays guitar. “I know eight million basketball players,” she laughed, ”but I didn’t know one musician until I started working here.” Owners Peter and Paul Scattaretico, musicians themselves, have been supportive of her career.

But in the current environment, there’s little middle ground between being undiscovered and filling 20,000-seat venues. Franciosa usually is the only pop singer on the bill at New York City clubs, even at The Bitter End, known as a singer-songwriter showcase. As she put it, “Go big or go home.”

Franciosa is her own best advocate, good at networking and fearless in situations that might faze other wannabe artists. Her strategy: “I’m trying to go for the big bosses everywhere.” She sent “Be Happy” to Peekskill-based WHUD-FM (100.7) radio, and the station played it during its Artist Spotlight segment last year; two weeks ago, they played “Greatest Mistake.” Her booking at Riverfest was her own doing. After applying through the prescribed process and receiving no response, she made her own luck during a performance at Yonkers Brewery when she spotted Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in the audience. Franciosa buttonholed him, told him about her Riverfest submission, and Spano introduced her to one of the decision makers for the event. She soon had a slot in the lineup.

Now she’s working on an album to be released early next year. “I’m excited about this one,” she said. “I’m very passionate; I just want people to hear it. I believe people will like it if they hear it.”

Franciosa attributes her positive attitude to her success playing sports. “I have very big dreams,” she said, “because I think I can do it. I’ve definitely thought about giving up, you definitely get deterred, but when I think about that, I think, ‘But what would I do? Where would I be?’ I can’t accept ‘No.’”

One ultimate goal: “I would love to play Madison Square Garden.”

Yes, she’s already performed at that arena, but for her next appearance, she will probably be in center court, on her own stage.

For more about Cristina Franciosa, visit

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

JULY 8, 2016

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Cristina Franciosa released her new EP, “Greatest Mistake,” in May.