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Spotlight on Sons of Serendip

Quartet of BU alums to appear on America’s Got Talent tonight

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Among the dozens of artists who auditioned during the June 10 episode of America’s Got Talent were a stand-up comedian, a teen dance troupe, a performing pig, and a professional archer. But one of the most impressive acts during the two-hour broadcast was a musical quartet featuring BU alums called Sons of Serendip. Comprising lead vocalist Micah Christian (STH’13), harpist Mason Morton (CFA’12), cellist and vocalist Kendall Ramseur (CFA’12), and pianist and guitarist Cordaro Rodriguez (LAW’12), the quartet performed a soulful, understated rendition of “Somewhere Only We Know” took the live audience of 3,000 at Madison Square Garden by storm, winning over judges and viewers alike.

“It kind of transported me somewhere else,” Mel B, one of the show’s judges, told the quartet following their performance. The show’s other judges, Howard Stern (CGS’74, COM’76), Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum, were equally enthusiastic, pronouncing the group’s audition “beautiful” and “fabulous,” before unanimously voting to advance the foursome to the next round of competition.

For those who missed their audition, Sons of Serendip return to America’s Got Talent tonight, where they will compete to earn a spot among the show’s Top 48. (Initially, 100,000 acts auditioned for the show, so just making it to the televised audition was an accomplishment.)

Ramseur describes the quartet’s style as a fusion of R&B, hip-hop, and classical. Their musical influences, equally eclectic, span everyone from Yanni and film composer Hans Zimmer to India Arie and Amos Lee—all making for a distinctive sound that defies genre and, as Morton puts it, “feeds the soul more than entertains.”

Based on their poise and synchronicity, one would think that that the four friends have been performing together for years. However, their television audition last month was only the second time they’ve played together in front of an audience: the first was a concert at Simmons College for a group of about 20. In fact, none of the bandmates had ever planned to form a musical group before Christian suggested auditioning for America’s Got Talent last spring. Prior to that, he and Rodriguez were pursuing careers outside of music, while Morton was teaching harp at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury and Ramseur was honing a solo career as a cellist.

The band’s name is a reference to the serendipitous circumstances that brought each member to BU, where they met as graduate students and eventually came to form their quartet. Ramseur initially had trouble deciding where to pursue his Master of Music in Performance, and says he ended up choosing BU at the last minute, after extensive prayer and reflection. Once on campus, he reunited with his old childhood friend Rodriguez; the two grew up together in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rodriguez says he applied to Boston University School of Law accidentally—he thought he was applying to Boston College’s law school. Christian almost decided to forgo his acceptance to the School of Theology in favor of taking a job with Teach for America, but says he changed his mind at the last minute. He met Rodriguez and Ramseur when he hired them to accompany him at a choral concert. “Our story helps us to feel that in some way we belong together,” Christian says.

Morton, who earned an undergraduate degree in harp from Rice University, says the first person he met upon arriving in Boston was Ramseur. He wound up living with Ramseur and Rodriguez and credits the University and, specifically, his mentor, retired professor Ann Hobson Pilot, with giving him the confidence to be able to fulfill his dream of playing on stage. “I came up to Boston without knowing what to expect,” Morton says. “I wanted brotherhood, I got that. I wanted to perform, I got that. I couldn’t ask for three better guys. BU has really helped me get closer to my dream.”

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Sons of Serendip photographed during a July 15 video shoot produced with the assistance of high school students from COM assistant professor Chris Cavalieri’s Academy of Media Production course. From left: Cavalieri, Ramseur, Christian, Morton, Rodriguez. Photo by Cydney Scott

America’s Got Talent has given the Sons of Serendip the kind of national recognition that more established musicians dream of. Their televised audition has been viewed nearly 400,000 times on YouTube and has earned them a small but growing following on Facebook and Twitter.

The four friends say that not only has America’s Got Talent given them the opportunity to reach audiences through their music, it’s given them a chance to interact with other gifted performers. “It is amazing being in that space with so many people from all over the country who are coming together with their different gifts to share,” Christian says. “It was just really inspiring to see so much talent and hear so many beautiful stories of overcoming obstacles and persevering through tough times, and working hard to reach your goals.”

And, while America’s Got Talent is, at heart, a competition—the winning act will earn a million dollar prize at season’s end—Morton says that behind the scenes, the show promotes a sense of camaraderie. “The thing with America’s Got Talent is it doesn’t feel like a competition,” Morton says. “It feels like a family. Everyone’s talented, everybody’s nice, there’s no ego there. We want to win the money, but we all support each other.” In fact, the quartet frequently exchanges complimentary messages with their fellow competitors on Twitter.

Still, the four admit that appearing before a national audience can be daunting. Ramseur admits he gets nervous at the thought of performing on live television and being evaluated by a panel of judges. The fact that the quartet is only months old poses other challenges. “You go from a small room to a stage where there are thousands of people and four judges,” Ramseur says. “You have to perform 100 percent with a group that’s only been together for two months. So, we don’t know how each person will react under those types of circumstances. It’s definitely a little nerve-wracking.”

Despite all the pressure, the group says they were confident that they would advance to tonight’s round. “I think our group is really unique,” Rodriguez says. “I really did believe we were going to make it through.” The friends say they are intent on taking everything one step at a time. Regardless of how they do on America’s Got Talent, they say they plan to continue performing as a quartet and hope to release an album together sometime in the near future.

“It’s great if we win, but if we could just have successful careers and be able to make a living off of doing what we love as brothers together, that would be amazing to me,” Ramseur says.

In the video above, shot by students in COM assistant professor Chris Cavalieri’s Academy of Media production class, Sons of Serendip perform Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Sons of Serendip will appear on America’s Got Talent tonight from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (EST) on NBC stations. Click here for more information about the show.

Samantha Pickette can be reached at pickette@bu.edu.

24 Comments

24 Comments on Spotlight on Sons of Serendip

  • Katy on 07.23.2014 at 12:11 pm

    This performance was gorgeous. I had chills. Good luck on AGT! I hope to hear more of your music.

  • Vika Zafrin on 07.23.2014 at 12:56 pm

    Good luck guys. Thank you for the beautiful music.

  • Lily on 07.23.2014 at 1:01 pm

    Beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah”! Good luck on AGT!

  • Janice Chytra on 07.23.2014 at 5:52 pm

    I have watched their audition and I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I’ve watched this clip over and over and over again!!! This group of magicians are MAGICAL and definitely worth your time! They are truly a gifted group of musicians and their rendition of ‘Somewhere only we know’ is better than the original song!

  • Prentiss on 07.24.2014 at 12:03 am

    Wow…you all are great. I really have enjoyed your music…especially the arrangements. Continue to make us proud. Balance…class…charm…harmony…..know that you’ve won in the hearts and minds of so many people. I think I might pull my old viola out!

  • Sarah G. on 07.24.2014 at 12:35 am

    They are astounding performers. I wish them the best of luck.

  • ADAYLA on 07.24.2014 at 3:31 am

    Move on forward

  • LarryO on 07.24.2014 at 8:42 am

    Wow, these guys are good!
    I have watched some of the AGT shows, but didn’t catch Sons of Serendip.
    So of course I clicked the links, watched the vidoes, and was very happy to see that they have made it to the final 48.
    Best wishes at Radio City Music Hall!

  • Annie Ramseur Oates on 07.24.2014 at 10:50 am

    I am Kendall’s Aunt and I knew him all his life and I knew by setting in his living room at times hearing him play for us that God has a plain for him and I stated to him follow your dream and put God first and you will archive. So Kendall keep up the good work and keep God with you always.lol

  • JUDYM on 07.24.2014 at 12:00 pm

    One of the best groups I’ve seen in a long time. The performance last night was totally awesome. Please keep bringing it!!

  • Ms. Jackie on 07.24.2014 at 1:55 pm

    Exceptional talent. Blessings as you continue to fly!!!

    jb

  • Janie Brink on 08.12.2014 at 11:27 pm

    I watched AGT tonight and caught you all singing/playing “I Don’t Want to Fall in Love. (I think that’s the name of it.) Oh my God, I am in tears it was so beautiful. I watched that clip over and over and over again. Have you recorded anything? I want this song. It’s the most beautiful I have ever heard. I am just a puddle! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope I can see you perform in Minneapolis sometime soon.

  • Walter Earl Fluker on 08.13.2014 at 9:18 pm

    We are so proud of you! You are truly serendipitous!

  • susan on 08.13.2014 at 11:16 pm

    THEY ARE FABULOUS!!!!! A refreshing change and SO TALENTED…Wonderful personalities…wonderful guys!…Live in the Boston area and would love to see them perform somewhere….what a treat and a GREAT find!!!!

  • Adair on 08.31.2014 at 10:28 pm

    You guys are awesome – a unique, truly original idea! Wishing you the best – hope to hear more from you!

  • Elliot on 09.06.2014 at 10:12 pm

    Simply, beautiful. I know the CD is going to be “off the chain”.

  • Elizabeth on 09.14.2014 at 2:32 am

    I love these guys! They are sooo good!

  • Artie on 09.15.2014 at 1:52 am

    There is a Grace, Love & Humbleness that comes through your music that can only come from God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit in each of you. To Him be the glory!!! Praying for you Sons of Serendip

  • TellyB in Ga on 09.16.2014 at 9:52 pm

    Love u guys. Good luck! And even if you don’t win, I pray the exposure will allow you the success you so deserve. So happy to see young brothers in such a positive light. CONGRATS!

  • Gwen Johnson on 09.17.2014 at 12:33 am

    I first saw Micah sing with The Hyannis Sound at a church in Chatham Ma.
    His voice was amazing and just stood out along with his humility. I talked with him after the
    show and met his lovely parents. Congratulations to The Sons of Serendip! Gwen Johnson

  • Michael crouch on 09.17.2014 at 9:59 pm

    These men are truly incredible! I am shocked and saddened to see them take 4th place—they should have won. Their chemistry, their poise, and their musicality just blows me away! Hurry up and get a cd out! Come to SC …not far from Chsrlotte, and sing for us! Godspeed to each of you!

  • Jean on 09.17.2014 at 11:48 pm

    If you could get any better I don’t know how you would do it. You guys are extraordinary–individually and collectively. AGT Is a springboard for your magical sound. You have no idea the impact you have had on this planet. Continued success–don’t stop.

  • Kevin on 09.18.2014 at 8:57 pm

    Outstanding young men and heavenly music. Their level of talent is rare. Can’t wait to see you all live!

  • sandra on 09.24.2014 at 11:59 pm

    your song bring me to tears all the time, splendid, searching for ur cd please

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