Talent propels Sons of Serendip from BU to the Billboard charts
Ages: Sons of Serendip are pianist-guitarist Cordaro Rodriguez, 29; harpist Mason Morton, 27; cellist-composer Kendall Ramseur, 29; and lead vocalist Micah Christian, 31.
Think of: A classical-jazz-pop-R&B-gospel fusion quartet whose bread and butter is interpreting songs that move you — from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
“Image-wise, we’re hard to describe,” said Christian with a laugh. “When we got onto the Billboard charts for our debut album, they didn’t know where to put us — we didn’t fit into R&B, didn’t fit into new age, didn’t fit into classical. We’re a mix.”
What caught our eye: The Boston University alumni placed fourth on Season 9 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” wowing judges and earning a boatload of fans — but that was just the start. Their debut album, cut earlier this year, landed on several Billboard charts, reaching No. 4 on the “Heatseekers” list for up-and-coming musicians. After opening for Jay Leno in Stamford, Conn., in May, they performed at the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4. Their holiday album, “Christmas: Beyond the Lights,” arrived on Oct. 23, and they recently kicked off their first national tour.
Light bulb moment: In the spring of 2014, just weeks after forming, “when we did our first audition for ‘America’s Got Talent’ in Madison Square Garden. At that point, it seemed we had potential as a group. That’s when the seed was planted. Throughout our time on the show, the seed grew more and more, and by the time we were done with the show, we knew we were going to be a band,” said Christian.
Biggest thrills: “On the show, it was when we made it to fourth place. Off the show, it was performing with the Boston Pops for the Fourth of July,” said Christian. “That was mind-blowing. And it was awesome meeting Keith Lockhart.”
Biggest surprise: “The response from listeners. We’ve heard from people all over, who’ve told us stories about how our music has helped them, touched them. We’ve heard from folks struggling with PTSD, with anxiety, who told us they’d experienced some sense of peace with our music,” said Christian, a former missionary who earned his master of divinity degree from BU in 2012.
“There was one guy who told us he was diagnosed with cancer, after he saw our show in New York City in April. He’d bought our album, and listened to it when he drove to chemo because he said it brought him hope and peace. Those kind of stories have been so encouraging.”
Inspired by: Ramseur cites cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Steven Isserlis, and film composers John Debney and Hans Zimmer. Morton names harpists Roselyn Lewis and Ann Hobson Pilot, former principal harpist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rodriguez admires Yanni and Zimmer; Christian mentions India Arie and Bobby McFerrin.
Aspire to: Record more albums, compose original music, tour overseas, venture into film scoring.
For good luck: “We pray before every performance; we check in with each other, take in the moment, because we know this is something that won’t last forever,” said Christian. “We want to make sure we’re in the moment, enjoying this ride.”
What people should know: “A lot of folks wonder what our concerts are like. It’s a mixture of storytelling, humor, and beautiful music,” he said.
Coming soon: Tickets are on sale now for their holiday concert at Plymouth North High School Performing Arts Center Dec. 20.
Links: www.sonsofserendip.com, www.youtube.com/watch?v=