Connections power music's return and Matthew Aucoin's journey from 'College Kid' to rock artist

Music's rebirth coincides with Matthew Aucoin's return to the spotlight, 5 years after his viral Citizens Bank Park performance.

ByBrock Koller WPVI logo
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Matthew Aucoin gives exclusive performance of 'Into the Past'
The man once known as the 'College Kid,' Matthew Aucoin, gives an exclusive performance of his song 'Into the Past.'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- "It's been a long time coming."

It was opening night of Bruce Springsteen's Broadway revival and he was happy to see people "unmasked, sitting next to each other in the same room."

Bruce Springsteen performs during reopening night of "Springsteen on Broadway" for a full-capacity, vaccinated audience at St. James Theatre on June 26, 2021 in New York City.
Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

After more than a year away, concerts are returning and musicians are once again able to connect with their fans.

And it's just not happening in New York City.

Just down I-95, Justin Bieber will sing at the Made in America Festival this Labor Day in Philadelphia, then again at the Wells Fargo Center next year.

The Weeknd, Billie Eilish, Kane Brown, Harry Styles, Chris Stapleton, Bad Bunny, J. Cole and Green Day are also headed to the Philly area.

Add Elton John to the mix, as he announced a farewell tour date at Citizens Banks Park, where Springsteen had a memorable performance a few years ago.

Live music is back and so is that connection between the performer and the crowd.

It is that relationship that makes live music - and music in general - so special, whether you are playing it in New York City, listening to it in Philadelphia or recording it in, let's say, Houston, Texas.

Music is all about relationships. From the sound itself - how the words are created, the melody is composed, the track is mixed - to the collaboration between artists and producers.

As music makes its comeback, a young man who once crossed paths with Bruce Springsteen is ready to make his return to the spotlight.

A lot has happened to the music industry in one year, and a lot has happened to that young man since he was dubbed the "College Kid." Most recently, the release of his debut album.


Matthew Aucoin held up a poster 'Can a College Kid play No Surrender with you?" at a Bruce Spingsteen concert in Philadelphia in 2016. That led him to stealing the show.
Matthew Aucoin

When "Good Morning America" called his father at 4 a.m., Matthew Aucoin knew his life had changed.

He had just hours earlier stepped onto the stage at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly with his idol, his musical hero, the Boss - Bruce Springsteen.

Aucoin did not travel with his father Pat all the way from Houston, Texas to ask Springsteen for an autograph. Far from it.

He was inquiring, via poster board, "Can a college kid play 'No Surrender' with you?" in front of the sold-out Philadelphia crowd.

The Boss was open to it. And then Aucoin "stole the show," as our headline indicated back in 2016.

"I was on top of the world, to having the story told on 'World News Tonight,' 'The Today Show,' countless radio shows, TV interviews and local stations, as well. The story really blew up globally," Aucoin told as the five-year anniversary of his "No Surrender" performance nears.

It was a night to remember in Philadelphia for one Texas college kid. (Credit: TheMagikRat)

Aucoin went on to graduate from Texas A&M cum laude with a business management degree in spring 2019. He currently works for his father's water service company, but has never put that guitar away completely.

Despite the adulation from the crowd that night and Springsteen's instant review - "Bro, that was sooo good!" - the then 19-year-old Aucoin was not a brash rocker trying to make a name for himself in order to catapult his burgeoning career; he was just a beginner. The very definition of beginner.

"I cannot emphasize enough how new I was to music at the time. Believe it or not, when I hopped on stage with Bruce, I had only been playing guitar for nine months. I got my first guitar the Christmas prior. So I really didn't know what to do when all that happened from a music standpoint because I didn't know anything and didn't have any music to show anyone," Aucoin said.

People assumed he was in a band. He wasn't. People assumed he had music to share. He didn't. Aucoin was living every artist's dream, just at the wrong time, and he couldn't capitalize on the moment.

"I still get many messages from Springsteen fans weekly from all over the world, sometimes in different languages, telling me how awesome they thought the performance was," Aucoin said delightedly. "This is a wonderful fanbase to be a part of. They have shown me nothing but love and respect."


Before Bruce Springsteen played one note at the St. James Theatre on Broadway on June 27, 2021, the Big Apple had already experienced the start of its musical rebirth following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Fifteen-thousand fans gathered on June 20 to watch the Foo Fighters rock Madison Square Garden.

A banner outside the iconic NYC venue read "Rock and Roll Returns to the Garden."

A few weeks after the concert, Foo Fighters and Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. released a short documentary about the show, titled "The Day The Music Came Back."

In the 9-minute film, MSG workers reflect on what it meant to have live music return and the public back inside.

"I'm just so looking forward to the energy from the fans coming into the building, and being somebody like the Foo Fighters, what an incredible first show to have," Daniel Marcus, arena merchandise supervisor, said. "Lightning is going to be through this arena."

"Times Like These" kicked off the concert.

It's times like these you learn to live again/
It's time like these you learn to love again.

Those words also represented the reopening of the lost form of entertainment.

"For the last year, I had this reoccurring dream that I would walk on stage and we would look at each other for the first time. And it would take a couple moments. We would just look at each other like 'Thank God we got here tonight,' right?" Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl said to the audience, with some words bleeped out of the film. "And then I walked out on stage tonight, and it was just like that dream. So thank you very much everybody for making my dream come true tonight."

Madison Square Garden was without music for 466 days, and now that void was being filled with the sound of rock and roll.

"You've been out so long, you appreciate every moment. To have Foo Fighters right now, you have the fans back, it's unbelievable," said 22-year veteran foreman laborer Michael Davis.

One concertgoer, a nurse, said, "It's everything to be back. We're all together."

During the two-hour-and-45-minute show, Billboard reported, Grohl said, "This feels good. I really missed the attention. That's what it is."

Springsteen and Grohl understand that connection in music. And now, a little older, a little wiser, and with more musical experience than simply nine months of guitar lessons, the former "College Kid" is understanding it, too.

------ caught up with the former 'College Kid' Matthew Aucoin of Houston, Texas five years after his show-stealing performance with Bruce Springsteen at a Philadelphia concert.
Matthew Aucoin/Brian Fisher

Fast forward five years from Springsteen's 2016 Philly concert, things are looking different for Aucoin.

He is releasing his first album. Like a seasoned musician would do while accepting a Grammy, the Texan-born singer has a list of people to thank. Those connections he's made along the way.

One of them is a fellow Aggie named Travis Walker.

"I owe my guitar playing to my freshman college roommate Travis. We hit it off as random roommates and became best friends, and still are to this day. I knew some piano, and he knew guitar very well. So we often had jam sessions as late/early as 3 a.m., annoying everyone to the left of us, to the right of us, and even the floor above us!" Aucoin said.

Aucoin had always wanted to play guitar and grew more and more jealous as he watched Walker play. So then Christmas came and Aucoin got that gift of frets, tuners and strings.

His roommate became his instructor - a very patient one, Aucoin pointed out.

"To this day he is still a far better guitar player than me, and probably always will. I owe everything in my music career to Travis," Aucoin said.

Matthew Aucoin says he got into playing guitar from his college roommate Travis Walker.
Matthew Aucoin

Walker was there the night Aucoin wrote the song "Austin Tonight," around the time of the Springsteen duet.

I'm in Austin tonight, I might as well stay inside/
Cause darling, this city just makes me want to hide/
I was foolish to think, that maybe we had a small chance/
But what can I say, I guess I was wrong and now you're gone.

Aucoin became sentimental when talking about "Austin Tonight." It was his first original song. And he tried again and again to record a version of it - the version - that he heard in his head. It just never sounded the same when played back.

"Travis grew so sick of it! I would get so angry when I couldn't produce the sound that I wanted. I think I tried four different times to record this song," Aucoin said.

After that fateful September night at Citizens Bank Park, Aucoin did not go immediately to the big music labels or post a barrage of videos on YouTube searching for a record contract.

He wrote one song and moved on.

"What is crazy about all of this is I have been pretty much dormant since that experience with Springsteen. I played a couple of gigs here and there, but nothing big or real memorable other than playing for the Spring Nuts (Springsteen fan group) up in Asbury Park, New Jersey every year," Aucoin said.

After writing "Austin Tonight," Aucoin focused on graduating college, starting to work for his father, and looking ahead at his future, one where being a professional singer was not included.

As the "College Kid" matured, he continued to sharpen his songwriting skills on the side and penned a handful of other tunes such as "Like We Never Met," "Dear J" and "God's Time."

"Writing was really just an outlet for me, and I didn't really try to write much in that time frame. It was just a casual hobby that I kind of, to be honest, lost my passion for," Aucoin said.

But, at the same time, he was beginning to learn the importance of connections when it comes to music.

That brings us to the next person Aucoin wanted to thank. Another important relationship that got him to this point in his nascent musical odyssey. A girl he liked and wanted to impress. She's a girl he took on one date, but ended up writing more than one song about.

The first song called "Only You" was written in November 2020.

When we first met, oh, who would've thought/
But as I got to know, and meet your pretty face/
I fell in love, it's true, I'm always thinkin' about you.

"This was the song that reignited my desire to record and write again. All of a sudden, I found myself cranking out songs left and right," Aucoin said.

While the pandemic shut down many things, it did not quash Aucoin's songwriting appetite. He was writing more than ever before. But he, like most musicians, had nowhere to take his songs.


Concertgoers had nowhere to go in 2020. Bands had nowhere to play. Venues were empty.

According to Pollstar, the global live events industry lost more than $30 billion due to the pandemic.

But Live Nation, the live entertainment company that owns Ticketmaster, says there is a turnaround on the horizon.

In the U.S., the company points to festivals, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Electric Daisy in Las Vegas and Rolling Loud in Miami, all selling out in record time at full capacity.

"We are announcing more tours for later this summer, including Dave Matthews, Luke Bryan, Maroon 5 and others to come, showing artists' increasing confidence in performing this summer," the company said in May.

Live Nation said it nearly doubled the number of fans attending its promoted events from 58 million in 2014 to almost 100 million in 2019.

The company said it posted 10 years of consecutive growth through 2019 and sees a light ahead.

"We are already seeing confirmed major tour dates for 2022 up double digits from the same time pre-pandemic in 2019 for 2020," Live Nation said.


Matthew Aucoin now had songs, but needed somewhere to take them, or better yet, someone. A family friend named Clint Collins is the next name on the list of gratitude.

Collins, who works in the music industry, was the one person Aucoin believed could put him in the right direction of bringing his songs to the next level.

Matthew Aucoin with Clint Collins, the one person he believed could put him in the right direction of bringing his songs to the next level.
Matthew Aucoin

"I finally mustered up the courage to reach out to Clint," Aucoin said. "I knew he had experience mixing and mastering... a couple weeks later, he gives me a call with the final mastered version of 'Only You.'"

Aucoin called it the best sounding version of any of his songs to that date. But it was still a demo. Collins knew where Aucoin should turn next.

"On the phone, Clint mentioned to me, 'Hey, I have a guy that sees potential in your music and wants to talk to you. He's a producer and is looking for someone like you to work with. I think you two would work really well together,'" Aucoin recalled.

Enter Matt Tipton, a Houston-based songwriter/producer, who told he "loves helping talented songwriters, who otherwise would never have the opportunity, make a full album become a reality and better than they imagined."

Aucoin wanted to send Tipton "Austin Tonight," but couldn't decide which version - remember, he recorded a few.

Close to five years removed from writing the song, Aucoin had just recorded one more rendition after finding himself quarantined at home. He had COVID-19.

"I had so much down time by myself in my house I thought, 'Well, why not try one more time? I literally have nothing else to do,'" Aucoin said.

Aucoin said having COVID was a pretty gloomy experience, but he knows others had it far worse.

"I would say the strangest thing was I lost my sense of taste after I felt about 75% better and didn't regain it for about 10 days," Aucoin said.

He also had a 1/2 gallon of Blue Bell ice cream his mother left for him on his doorstep to get by (that was before he couldn't taste anything).


The Associated Press' review of Springsteen's Broadway show read, "Every week brings fresh evidence of life resuming in entertainment following a 15-month COVID-19 pause... Thrilled to be back, fans cheered Springsteen's words so often he had to profanely tell them to settle down, lest the show take all night."

Bruce Springsteen brought his show back to Broadway.

Audience member Gina Zabinski of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania said it felt amazing to see music performed live again. "I'm going to cry," she said.

Zabinski brought along her son Zak, a musical theater student at the University of Miami.

"I didn't think I would miss it as much as I did," Zabinski told the AP. "I think I just took it for granted because we would go to shows all the time."

Philadelphia resident Benjamin Smith was also in attendance.

"I can't think of a better person to help us return to a sense of normalcy," Smith said.

According to the AP, Springsteen said "he and his family were lucky during the pandemic, able to stay healthy and keep busy."


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Matthew Aucoin and Matt Tipton worked virtually to create the "Into the Past" album.
Matthew Aucoin

Though Aucoin had contracted the coronavirus, he was able to continue with his music.

He sent this latest version of "Austin Tonight" to Tipton and the two had a phone call. Tipton was frank.

"He was very honest with me. I remember him saying, 'Your music has lots of potential, but it needs more production to be more memorable. I can help you get there, and we can have your songs not sound like a demo,'" Aucoin said.

Aucoin knew Tipton was speaking the truth. He had more work to do. But he was not sure if he wanted to take that journey just yet. Within a month of writing a song for a girl, Aucoin was now talking to a music producer about turning his demos into actual downloadable, streamable content.

"This whole thing was still very intimidating for me and was moving so fast, and I had not really thought about doing something like this in months. I was just trying to make a song for a girl I liked!" Aucoin said.

The 24-year-old who had no second thoughts about walking up in front of thousands of screaming Springsteen fans a few years ago was now unsure about taking this step.

Aucoin decided to listen to some of Tipton's own work and was amazed by what he heard. The quality of the sound. The presentation. The music. He told Tipton he was all in.

When Tipton sent back his tweaks to "Austin Tonight," Aucoin literally jumped for joy while listening through his headphones.

"Everything I had ever wanted in a song was being played back to me. That was a huge moment for me. It was at that moment where I was sold," Aucoin said.

With the calendar now flipped to 2021, Aucoin continued his writing spree, adding song after song. He worked with Tipton to produce them to the highest quality. An album was being built.

"We never stopped working until mid-May," Aucoin said. "It was pedal to the metal every single week. Cranking out 14 songs in the fashion we did, I simply cannot say how proud I am of the work we put in."

The COVID-19 pandemic had Aucoin and Tipton doing what many others had to do - pivot. They created the album all virtually. They would share Dropbox audio tracks, text ideas back and forth, collaborate with other musicians and, occasionally, talk on the phone.

Days after speaking with 6abc, the two met in person for the first time.

"Working with Matthew was a blast," Tipton told "Matthew is a passionate and unique songwriter open to critique, and more importantly, focused on making the song come alive exactly the way he had intended."

Aucoin's album is called "Into the Past." The title track brings us back to the "Only You" girl.

I've had my doubts that maybe love don't last/
But you've sent those doubts into the past.

Going back into the not-too distant past, to December 2020, Aucoin revisited that one, special date. The two were having such a great time, Aucoin did not want the night to end so he agreed to her idea of going ice skating.

"I am a 6'4 man and have not been ice skating in 16 years, and for good reason. I think I fell twice, and she got a good laugh out of it," Aucoin said.

It was those 30 to 40 minutes of Aucoin ice skating (or attempting to) with his date that stuck with him as he worked on his next song.

"She was there at the right time to give me the emotions and experience I needed to get there," Aucoin said.

The song, he said, is about overcoming doubts in your life and putting them behind you. Opening up about his history, Aucoin said he was engaged a couple years ago. It didn't work out and he had doubts about his future. But it was that date, with that ice skating girl, that changed his outlook.

"I think 'Into the Past' is a song everyone can relate to. Everyone deals with doubts and adversity in their life," Aucoin said. "It's how you handle those pivotal moments in your life that make you into the person you become."

For Aucoin's song "Into the Past," the Boss' inspiration can not only be felt in the sound, but also in the lyrics.

From the "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive" from Springsteen's "Bandlands" to "We're pulling out of here to win" from "Thunder Road," Aucoin wanted to pay tribute to his rock idol.

"Bruce obviously has a heavy influence on my songwriting and music in all areas," Aucoin said. "I thought it would be a nice tribute to Bruce throwing in a couple lines to show my roots."

The late saxophonist Clarence Clemons of Springsteen's E Street Band was also a form of inspiration. Aucoin wanted that saxophone sound filling the air.

"I really, really wanted saxophone on this album," Aucoin said. "I tried my hardest to find that Clarence Clemons sound we all know and love. But his sound is so one of a kind that it was very difficult to find someone who could replicate it. We got as close as we could."

You can watch an exclusive version of "Into the Past" in the video player at the top of this story.


During his opening night Broadway performance, Bruce Springsteen choked up with emotion several times, Variety reported.

"It came as he remembered people from his past, from high school friends who died in Vietnam to longtime saxophonist and wingman Clarence Clemons ("I'll see you in the next life, Big Man"); from his late father to his mother, now 95 and a decade into Alzheimer's."

In his previous stint on Broadway, Springsteen would end his show with the popular "Born to Run." But this time, he switched the closing number to "I'll See You in My Dream," off his most recent album, "Letter to You;" it's a tribute to his late friend and Australian promoter Michael Gudinski.

The road is long and seeming without end/
The days go on, I remember you my friend/
And though you're gone /
And my heart's been emptied it seems/
I'll see you in my dream.

"It dramatically changes the closing tone of the finale from exuberance to something more circumspect," Variety said.


"Demons" is one of Matthew Aucoin's tracks that took a while to grow on him. The budding artist said he eventually came to realize it is one of the highlights.

"The image I give people when describing this song is you have an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other," Aucoin said. "'Demons' reminds us how often times our greatest battles in life are when we are battling ourselves."

Aucoin admitted there have been various demons that have tried to detour his musical aspirations - one of which being pessimism. He was a novice in the music industry. He wasn't sure which way to turn - or even if his music or his voice or his ideas would be well-received. He fought with demons of insecurity and self-doubt.

"I knew my music had potential, and I truly believed in my songs," Aucoin said. "But I was kind of helpless in a way."

But it was those names on that unwritten list of thanks that helped him fight off those demons.

Matthew Aucoin has released his first album "Into the Past" as the music industry bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matthew Aucoin/Brian Fisher

"Looking back, the answer to all of this was right in front of me the whole time. I have known Clint Collins as long as I can remember, I was just stuck in my head the whole time. It took a woman to wake up my musical passion again. I got busy with it, and I found Matt Tipton, who was all I needed," Aucoin said.

Aucoin, whose vocal tones are on full display in his album of 1 hour and 2 minutes, also has had a lifelong struggle with stuttering. That is where some of his doubts first surfaced. Growing up, he dealt with bullying by the other students at school. He said his stutter was worse then and "there was nothing I could do about it."

As an 'Elementary School Kid,' he sought help with speech therapy on a regular basis, and worked hard to gain some sort of control over it. Today, Aucoin said his stuttering is mild and happens only on rare occasion.

"Usually if I stutter it's because I know what I want to say in my head, I just can't start the sentence for some reason. My brain gets ahead of my mouth on occasion," Aucoin said. "Overcoming my stutter was definitely something that was a big hurdle in my life."

And as for those bullies, they can now listen to Aucoin's voice on their Spotify playlists.

Matthew Aucoin/Brian Fisher/6abc


While looking back on his year, Bruce Springsteen touched upon the time he "was handcuffed and thrown in jail."

He was referring to his arrest for drunken driving and reckless driving on Nov. 14, 2020 in New Jersey.

The charges were later dismissed since Springsteen had a blood alcohol level below the state's legal limit. He also paid a fine for drinking two tequila shots in an area where alcohol wasn't allowed.

"New Jersey," he said. "They love me there."

As Springsteen reminisced, he took time to focus on his late father.

He spoke "wistfully and at length" about his dad, Variety reported.

"We live amongst ghosts trying to reach us from that other life," he said. "And they're still with us. I'm glad to be doing this show again, to get to visit with my dad every night, and Clarence, and Danny [Federici, longtime E Street Band member], and my Randolph Street family - all gone. A whole way of life disappears before your very eyes, but the soul remains."

"I just want to let them know that I remember them."


Aucoin's father was there the night the Philly crowd roared. It was Pat who screamed "Matthew! Selfie! Selfie! Selfie!" to make sure his son didn't miss the Insta-worthy moment with the multi-time Grammy Award winner.

"He goes back and watches the (Springsteen) video all the time and shows all his friends," Aucoin said of his father.

Pat is once again supporting his son's latest venture.

It was one particular song in Matthew Aucoin's collection that resulted in his father breaking down in tears.

Matthew Aucoin says his dad has been supporting his music aspirations from the start. In 2014, they got Springsteen to play "One Step Up" for the first time in 26 years.
Matthew Aucoin

"Taken Away" tells the tale of a son who lost his father. Many who have listened to the song and watched the companion music video assume it's about Aucoin and his dad, the singer said. But, as Aucoin pointed out, this song is one that is not taken from his own personal experience.

"Up until this song, I had written all of my songs either out of an emotion I was feeling and created a story to match it, or straight up wrote about the experience I had firsthand. This song became the one outlier to that, and it felt strange to me. I guess I felt unworthy to represent it because I did not have the life experience to match the song," Aucoin said.

But one night, sitting around a campfire with his father and family friends, Aucoin pulled out the lyrics and began to read them aloud.

"I had not even made it through the second verse and I looked over and saw my dad in tears. Not just a couple tears, he was sobbing," Aucoin said.

Daddy why were you taken away/
Can you come back just for one more day/
There ain't a single word I don't care what they say/
You weren't supposed to leave me this way.

Aucoin's dad lost his own father at a young age. Aucoin soon understood the song was not strictly about a father, though, but about the loss of any loved one. And, he said, with the pandemic, so many people have been experiencing loss in their lives.

"Everyone sitting at that campfire encouraged me that people needed to hear this song, and it could potentially provide a sense of healing or relatability to them. It could maybe help them knowing they aren't alone in what they are going through in a world that is so unforgiving," Aucoin said.

"Taken Away" has resonated with many on social media and some have reached out to Aucoin to let him know. One woman told him she had lost her husband to COVID-19 and her seven children no longer had a father. Aucoin hopes the song brings some sort of comfort to her and other families.

"I sincerely dedicate this song to anyone who has lost a loved one. Whether they lost their father at a young age or not, if you've been dealing with a tough loss, this song is for you," Aucoin said.

Completing a music video to "Taken Away" was a major achievement for Aucoin. It was shot over a five-hour period at a Texas hangar which his dad and he visit often. Both are pilots as a hobby. The video was directed by musician Wade Concienne and the aforementioned Clint Collins, who Aucoin said, he let "do their thing."

The video includes real home movies of Aucoin's childhood, which led many viewers believing the singer was reflecting on his father.

"I got tons of messages asking about my dad thinking he was dead. My dad was like, 'What are people saying about the video?' and I said, "Well, everyone thinks you're dead,'" Aucoin said. "I guess I should have been very clear when I released the video that my dad was OK, but it showed how personal the song came across to people."

His father is not the only family member cheering him on. Aucoin said his mother Martha is also a huge fan - she just doesn't like every single song he writes.

"She says, 'They are good songs, but as your mother, I don't like hearing you sad because that makes me sad. I like listening to all of your happy songs!'" Aucoin said, repeating his mother's critique.

Matthew Aucoin and his mom stand in front of a Springsteen custom-art piece they gave him for Christmas 2020.
Matthew Aucoin


While some things were different at Springsteen's Broadway return, there were familiar sights. His wife of 30 years, Patti Scialfa, joined him on stage for their duet "Tougher Than the Rest."

Springsteen nearly forgot the final verse and she laughed at him.

"See? She loves me even when I (expletive) up," Springsteen said.

Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa take a bow during reopening night of "Springsteen on Broadway" for a full-capacity, vaccinated audience at St. James Theatre on June 26, 2021.
Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

The two went on to sing "Fire," a Pointer Sisters 1979 tune written by Springsteen. Variety called it the highlight of the night.

"They traded off on the first verse but sang the second and third together - beautifully - sharing the microphone. Patti drew laughs by holding a long note, raising her finger to his lips to shush him so she could sing it herself," Variety said.


For his own album's duet, "It Takes Two," Aucoin was fulfilling a promise of sorts.

Sophia Sereni of League City, Texas grew up loving to sing with her family in her local church.

In 2015, just before turning 13 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer. She is now celebrating six years of remission.

After her diagnosis, she started writing her own songs with the help of the Texas Children's Hospital.

ABC13's Pooja Lodhia and HTX+ revisit with Sophia Sereni, an aspiring singer-songwriter who never stopped her melodies even during her battle with leukemia.

"It really helped me cope with everything that I was going through at the time. I feel like it still does," Sereni told KTRK-TV in 2019.

While a junior in high school, Sereni sang the national anthem at the Astros game. She now attends Sam Houston State University and is a lead worship singer at her home church.

She would meet Aucoin at a Halloween party, when he was wearing a self-described "ridiculous" costume. Sereni, as luck would have it, was with her friend, the "Only You" girl.

Aucoin and Sereni became friends. He told her if she ever wanted one of her songs produced, he would make it happen.

Sophia Sereni and Matthew Aucoin team up for the song "It Takes Two."
Matthew Aucoin

"Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but an even bigger heart," Aucoin said.

Sereni shared a similar view of Aucoin.

"Matthew truly has a huge heart for people and music which clearly shows through his songwriting," she told

When Sereni saw Aucoin at her birthday party earlier this year, she casually mentioned that if he needed any female singers, she was available. As a matter of fact, it turned out Aucoin did.

He and Tipton were finishing up the album, but there was just one song left - the duet. Aucoin said he was exhausted by this point after months of recording. On top of that, he was battling a throat condition that hampered his singing voice.

"We already had 13 songs that clocked in at nearly an hour. I was content, but knew in the back of my head the album could use this song at the end," Aucoin said.

So he took Sereni up on her offer. Aucoin said she treated the song as her own, even adding her own lyrics. In a way, Aucoin was helping produce one of her songs like he promised.

I love the way you are, the way you look from afar/
We've cried many tears, & laughed through the years/
My hand in your hand, walking right at your side/
It takes two, it takes two to do life.

"She really carried this song over the finish line and I couldn't have done it without her. It was the perfect way to end this album," Aucoin said. "I am very thankful for the work she put in to make this a highlight on the album for me."

Aucoin said this will not be the last project that the two will work on together and he will still help her with her own music, too.

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Matthew! I look forward to our paths crossing in the future," Sereni said.


Aucoin's album, "Into the Past," is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and other streaming services, along with likes of musicians named Springsteen, Stapleton and Grohl.

You can also get a CD version if you message him on Facebook.

The cover to Matthew Aucoin's album "Into the Past."
Matthew Aucoin/Brian Fisher

Aucoin knows he wouldn't be where he is today without those special connections.

"Relationships are literally everything, and I have been very conscious to mention everyone who has helped me along the way. It took a team of great people, me making the right pivotal decisions, and great execution," Aucoin said.

"This is my team and, no matter what, they will always be embedded in this body of work."

Five years ago, a man named Springsteen and a college student named Aucoin connected with the audience at Citizens Bank Park. And that bond with those Philly fans started Aucoin's incredible exploration into the music business. And he has hopes of returning one day for a live concert of his own.

"If there's one place I would love to come perform one day, it's Philadelphia. The outpouring of love and support from the city was incredible and something I will never forget," Aucoin said. "The city will always mean so much to me and making an already once-in-a-lifetime experience even more memorable."

One year ago, that connection between musician and audience was paused around the world. But now things are changing.

As the text at the end of the Foo Fighters Madison Square Garden documentary reads: "Rock is back."

Bruce Springsteen performs during reopening night of "Springsteen on Broadway" for a full-capacity, vaccinated audience at St. James Theatre on June 26, 2021 in New York City.
Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Indeed, music, crowds and Springsteen have returned and, thanks to the help of those names on his list of gratitude, a man once dubbed the "College Kid" is along for the ride.

"It's unbelievable that it was five years ago! It's crazy seeing how I've grown as a person both physically and emotionally. Knowing what I have experienced in my life since then, and seeing how I've progressed as a person has been crazy to think about," Aucoin said.

"It's surreal, man."

With the persistence of his father, Matthew Aucoin took a selfie with Bruce Springsteen back in 2016.
Matthew Aucoin


Variety, Billboard, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.