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Despite Declining Sight, Senior Singer Finds His Sound

Music has always been a passion for Ben Seo, LSOE ’17. Singing, writing, and listening to music are all within his skillset. Growing up in South Korea and later the United States, he participated in local and national competitions, including a Korean version of American Idol. During his time at Boston College, he has broadened his perspective and explored this passion of his. Most recently, Seo has released his first single entitled “I’m Sorry” in both South Korea and the U.S.

Even from a young age, music was a part of Seo’s life. Growing up in Korea, he often took inspiration from popular artists who encompassed a wide array of genres.

“I’m an omnivore, I listen to jazz, soul, R&B, electronic, and Korean music,” Seo said. When it comes to the music he creates, however, Seo tends to stick with classical and ballad-like songs. While he would like to branch into other genres, Seo thinks that there is a sharp line between professional and personal interests.

“The songs you write and the songs you love are always different,” Seo said.

As an aspiring artist, Seo faces even greater challenges trying to break into other genres. When singers are trying to make their big break, it is better to establish one consistent genre so that they can build up a faithful fanbase. Seo has always had a talent for music, and through hard work, he hopes to reach even greater goals in the future.

During one of his first days in high school, Seo noticed that it was suddenly difficult to avoid walking into people in the hallway. While that could just be someone’s bad day, it signaled a bigger problem for Seo. He was subsequently diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease affecting the eyes. Though it did not interfere with his life too much in the beginning, his vision rapidly deteriorated in a short period of time to the point where he is now considered legally blind. Seo had to readjust many aspects of his life, but he did not allow the impairment of this vision to interfere with his passion and drive for music.

Seo is both optimistic and honest when it comes to his condition. While he doesn’t permit his vision to prevent him from pursuing his goals and ambitions, he also has come to understand what it means in his life.

“It’s living your life with the things you have,” Seo said.

The outlook he has now, however, came after a lot of emotional turmoil within himself. He admitted that for a long time he struggled with accepting who he is. Like many adolescent college students, he found himself caught between who he truly is and who he wanted to be. For a long period, Seo believed it was best to try and hide his condition.

“I wanted to hide it, I wanted to be cool,” he said.

But eventually Seo realized during his time at BC that hiding his condition wasn’t the best choice. Speaking on what changed his opinion on his condition, he said that he realized he just had to live. In his marvelous, sarcastic tone, Seo proclaimed his motto.

“It’s okay to not be okay,” Seo said.

In addition to his plans for a musical career in the future, Seo hopes to use his skills and talents to help others and provide guidance. Seo recognizes that while he does face challenges, others in South Korea, the U.S., and abroad face very similar struggles. Touching on some of his aspirations, Seo hopes to be an advocate for others through his preferred medium: music. Seo knows the power that a good role model or mentor can have on students.

Speaking on a past experience, he remembers working with a blind professor in a music class during a summer course at Berkeley. Seo recalls seeing how respected and admired this professor was, and realized that he could have the same influence. While Seo understands that such a high status requires hard work and dedication, he has all of the tools and talents to make that ambition a reality.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

December 5, 2016