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Sep 19, 2011

Local boy competes for national honors

Local boy competes for national honors

“American Idol” inspired Josh Bernstein three years ago to do something he had never done before: sing.

David Archuleta was on his way to runner-up of the seventh season when the then 11-year-old decided to take his own vocal cords for a test run in his living room.

“I just sort of wanted to try it for myself,” he says. “And I just sort of belted it out, and my dad heard me and he was shocked.”

Now the Gaithersburg native and freshman at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville is one of four finalists in the Kidz Bop national kids talent search, Kidz Star USA. About 45,000 kids under the age of 15 posted videos of themselves performing. Josh’s rendition of “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green was picked by judges as one of the the 10 best videos. He then made another video of him singing “Hey, Sister Soul” by Train. Online voting by fans and input from the judges landed Josh among the final four.

Josh was excited at first just to get some attention for his performance, but now he really wants to win. “I’m always looking to get that extra mile,” he says, days before traveling to New York along with the other finalists to make their final videos. Josh recorded “Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars. The final performances can be seen — and voted on — starting tomorrow at

Even if Josh doesn’t win, he still plans on continuing to sing. He takes voice lessons once a week, and is a part of a band called Pulse, which has performed at Six Flags and also at a kids battle of the bands at the 9:30 Club in Washington.

“What I love about singing is it’s the most portable thing. I practice all the time. I sing everywhere,” he says.

What the future holds for Josh, he doesn’t know. His favorite subject is English, and he thinks he might like to go into advertising when he grows up. “If it’s not putting my music out there, I want to do something that puts my ideas out there. I like to think of myself as a creative person,” he says.

If Josh wins, he will get a contract to record his own album, plus he will sing on “Kidz Bop 21.” Josh thinks winning could be the start of a career for him. “That could take me a lot of places,” he says. Maybe there will be more songs and videos and attention. Or maybe he’ll go back to being a typical kid, hanging out with friends and playing basketball.

“I love the adrenaline that comes from everyone looking at you and everyone [being] there to watch you,” he says. “Obviously the music business, it’s very hard to get into, but I would have to say that music would be something that I would be really interested in pursuing. ”

—Moira E. McLaughlin