A Conversation with the Sons of Serendip

Sons of Serendip group photo

It was a true privilege to interview one of my favorite musical acts that ever appeared on “America’s Got Talent”: Sons of Serendip. (Photo property of Shef Reynolds)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is true privilege to welcome Sons of Serendip to Jake’s Take!

Micah Christian, Cordaro Rodriguez, Kendall Ramseur and Mason Morton formed their hot quartet while pursuing graduate degrees at Boston University. While they came from different parts of the country and had different professional backgrounds, their music united them to enrich and enlighten their audiences.

The quartet’s wishes came true when they auditioned for America’s Got Talent: Season Nine and their superb cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” received four yeses from the show’s judges: Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel!

Once they made it to the Live Shows at Radio City Music Hall, the quartet delivered spectacular performances of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” and Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.” While they placed fourth in the competition, Sons of Serendip left a lasting impression on fans.

In this edition of A Conversation, the guys talked about which judge they wanted to impress the most, their arrangement process and why they chose to go with Pledge Music to help finance their debut studio album.

Jacob Elyachar: Could you please share Sons of Serendip’s origin story with my readers?

Micah Christian: Originally, I had this idea to audition for America’s Got Talent with an a cappella group, but the idea did not work out. So I called Cordaro and asked him if he and the guys would be interested in auditioning for AGT, too. He reached out to them and it was a unanimous decision to audition. We got together a few days later to record an audition tape and sent it in. A few weeks later, the AGT producers called us and asked if we wanted to audition in front of the judges in Madison Square Garden!

JE: Was the group nervous about performing in front of any particular judge?

Cordaro Rodriguez: The judge that we were playing towards the most was Howard Stern. We valued his feedback…even though he was not overly positive and gave a critique when it was needed. He was the person that we wanted to impress because we really wanted to him to stand up! Howie, Heidi and Mel B always gave us standing ovations after our performances, but we really wanted him to give us one. Although we really appreciated Howie’s support, he was our cheerleader and we were always excited to hear what he had to say.

Sons of Serendip America's Got Talent

From the first note of their audition song: “Somewhere Only We Know” to their epic final performance of “Bring Me To Life,” Sons of Serendip’s soothing and compassionate covers brought the “AGT” audience to their feet. (Photo courtesy of Sons of Serendip)

 

JE: One of my favorite performances from your time on “AGT” was “Ordinary World.” It reached the Top Five of my favorite Reality TV Performances of 2014! Why did the group pick that particular song to perform on the show’s Top 12 night?

Kendall Ramseur: During our time on AGT, we learned about the song selection process. It was very interesting to learn about because it is a long process that we had to go through. The producers gave us a list of over 20 songs that we could have chosen from and we always tried our best to find the songs that resonated with our style the most. We also had to make sure that Micah was comfortable singing it, so we could be voted through the next round.

During our meeting with the music team, we told them that, of all the songs that they selected for us to perform, “Ordinary World” showed us at our greatest performing level. In our collective opinion, it was our strongest performance! “Ordinary World” was also the first performance that we added the orchestra and the choir. It was truly a special moment for us.

JE: Let’s talk about the arrangement process. How long does it take the group to create an arrangement from inception to performance?

MC: It really depends, but sometimes we have created our arrangements in 15 minutes! (laughs) (JE: Seriously?) We put together our cover of Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” in 15 minutes.

Mason Morton: It was probably done less than 15 minutes!

MC: Most of the time, Cordaro would set the foundation of the track on the piano. From there, we start improvising. With every track, we had to figure out what would click for our audience and the sound that we liked! Once, we figure all that out…the band starts to really dig into the arrangement, so it would the best it could ever sound. We can arrange some songs really quickly, because we have strong instincts about it and we have a good idea about the song’s direction. I think ““Bring Me To Life” to the longest to arrange! (All laugh) We really wanted to sing that song, but the AGT producers thought we should sing R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” After that meeting, we went back and re-arranged the track and once we re-presented it to the producers, they were excited to hear us perform “Bring Me To Life.”

MM: It took us five hours to create and re-arrange the track. We were working six hours a day on the arrangement, and they were really long days!

CR: But, we rehearsed like crazy to make sure that we memorized each song and we were confident enough to perform it in front of America.

Sons of Serendip album cover

Sons of Serendip’s fans rallied to help the quartet record their debut album. (Album cover property of Shef Reynolds & Artistic design by Creative Me’s Aaron Perry)

 

JE: To create your debut album, the group turned to Pledge Music. Why did the group go through that route instead of the traditional record company route?

CR: After the finale, we went through all of the different options of creating our debut album and how we could get the funding for this album. At the time, we were not sure if we were going to be Independent or go with a label. One of the benefits of going the Independent route was that we were going to do our sound and figure out how what direction we wanted to go with our music. We heard about Pledge Music through one of our fellow finalists: Emily West. After talking to the Pledge Music personnel, we thought that it would be a good idea for our fans to get a feel of our world and come along the journey with us! We got to connect with our supporters on a much personal way, then if we decided to use another route.

JE: What were some of the challenges that the group faced during the recording process? How did you overcome them?

KR: Our main challenge that we faced throughout the recording process was that we had the right sound! Recording an album is very different from preparing for a live performance. We had to look at our approach a little differently. In the studio, we had to click and made sure that everyone stayed on triple. When we performed live, there was more room for ebb and flow! While on AGT, we also had considered the visual aspect that we wanted so that we could capture and keep the audience’s attention. In the recording studio, all you have is sound! We had no visuals and part of the challenge was to record something that could keep listeners captivated and engaged!

JE: How has social media helped grow your online presence?

MM: Social media has helped us in so many different ways! All of our supporters are using social media and it helped us get our pledgers, so we could have all the financial backing that we needed to make the album! If we appeared on AGT years ago, everyone would ask: “Whatever happened to them?” Now, thanks to social media, they do not have to ask that question! Our supporters can follow our every move and they have supported us greatly!

JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring bands that want to have a career in the music industry, what advice would you share with them?

KR: When the group came together, we did not have any expectations! However, we knew that there was something special about how the group flowed together musically. There was a similar sound that we were each able to alter our individual instrument (including Micah’s voice). So, the biggest piece of advice that I would say is “Go for it!” We went into this with no expectations and hoped that we could share the gifts that we have been given and that it resonated with our audience.

CR: You should also be with people that have similar world visions and people that you care about and work through things together! I grew up with Kendall and we lived together with Mason for a few years. We all learned how to effectively communicate with each other.

MM: Micah is an all-around easy guy to get along with! (All laugh)

MC: I would also add that they should do what they love! There are going to be people that do not understand and listeners that are not feeling your music, but there are tons of people that need to hear your music! The most important thing any band should do is share your music and do it because you love music. Do not pursue music for fame! Pursue music because it is your passion! From there, you will inspire your listeners. You will have no idea how many people will be inspired by your music whether you realize it or not! Finally, follow your heart.

CR: Do not forget to practice! We make it a point to meet and practice together for hours a day!

You can connect with the band on social media! Visit their Facebook, Instagram & Twitter!

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar