During the past two years I have had the opportunity to introduce many young singers on this site. In almost every case, the youngster seemed to express their singing talent at a very young age. In fact some were barely walking when they discovered that they had a special musical ability. However, in the case of 14 year old Josh Bernstein from the Washington DC area, his self discovery came much later; however that’s not to say that it went totally unnoticed!
When Josh was three years old, he really took to the show Barney. But unlike most other Barney fanatics, Josh felt the need to reenact the whole show. He would line up the Barney characters and then regal the family with each song from the show. Josh’s grandfather, who discovered his own singing talent later in life, commented that Josh had an amazing singing voice and that he hit every note. Years later, when Josh started demonstrating serious talent, Josh’s grandfather would claim that it was he who discovered Josh’s talent when Josh was a toddler. He claimed that Josh owed him 40% of his future proceeds.
Joshua went silent after the Barney years. In early childhood performances with his class, Josh would mumble the words while his more enthusiastic classmates carried the tune. He loved music and began to collect songs on his iPod, but showed no interest in singing or musical pursuits. When his grandfather pushed Josh and his parents for Josh to take up a musical instrument, Josh didn’t seem to have much of an interest. Finally, Josh took up the drums. He liked drumming but didn’t have a strong passion for it. (This is ironic because after Josh discovered his singing talent and joined a rock band, he began to wish he was the drummer and would spend 10 minutes on the drums after every vocal lesson). But then six months later, Josh gave up the drums.
In the winter of 2008, Josh began watching American Idol at a friend’s. He thought it was fun to rate the contestants. One day while watching the show, Josh started to feel this strange sensation. He felt a strong need to be on stage and began to feel jealous of the contestants. He had no idea why he felt this way. He had felt this only one other time in his life when a friend of the family took time off of school to try out for Hollywood productions. Josh was particularly taken by the soulful style of one contestant, “David Archuleta”. He loved his rendition of “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson. Josh always had felt a connection to soul and R&B music, even if he never imagined singing it.
Josh loved to imitate actors and he decided he would try his hand at imitating Archuleta. He initially saw it as more as an act of imitation than of singing. Alone in his room, he belted it out. Not bad, he thought. He tried it several more times. A few days later he worked up the nerve to try it out on his dad. His dad stood in stunned silence. “Wow,” he muttered. About a month later, Josh sang “Shop Around” in front of his whole school at a talent show. Here’s Josh at age 11, a couple months after first singing “Shop Around”.
Josh was now in sixth grade and was eager to take his singing to the next level. Josh’s dad started looking for a vocal coach. One teacher said he was too young and would only damage his vocal chords. They eventually stumbled upon a music school called Bach to Rock, which placed kids with rock bands. By that time, Josh had learned a number of songs and was into Elvis and the Beatles. His only other singing performances were at a local karaoke joint: Watch Josh as he belts out this Elvis Classic he will draw you in with his bluesy vocal interpretation of this song! JAIL HOUSE ROCK.
Josh began vocal instruction and auditioned for a band that needed a singer. They asked Josh to spend time learning “Rockin in the Free World” by Neil Young. At first, it seemed strange to learn music he was not interested in but he gave it shot. He quickly found that his musical interests were much broader than he originally thought. Eight weeks later the newly formed band was going to compete in the Middle School Battle of the Bands at the famous 9:30 Club in DC. They didn’t even have a name so the band instructor called them “Monsters and Robots.” Later they would change the name to “Pulse.” HERE’S THAT FIRST PERFORMANCE
During the next two years, Josh had numerous opportunities to perform with his band and solo. He was in several musical theater productions. The band got better and better, coming in second place in the most recent Battle of high schools bands:
Josh also sang at several open mic nights. He and his friend Adam wrote music together and began working on a new project.. To add to his musical talent, Josh has now been taking piano lessons since March 2010, but prefers learning by ear rather than reading music.
In December of 2010, on a cruise with his grandparents, Josh met a man who had worked in the music industry as a talent agent. He heard Josh singing and playing piano during the teen club. He urged Josh to open a YouTube channel and begin uploading regularly. Josh produced his first video, covering Alecia Key’s hit single “Fallin”, which in my personal opinion, is his best performance to date!
Josh’s musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elvis, The Beatles, Seal, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, The Temptations, Heart, Cheryl Crow, The Who, and David Archuleta.
Josh’s dream is to one day be on American Idol or a similar show. In fact, Josh is planning to try out for Simon Cowell’s X Factor that makes it’s American premier on Fox this fall.
In addition to singing, Josh loves basketball and football, especially the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Pictured below is “Pulse” holding their winning award from the Battle of the Bands.
You can be sure that Joshua is just getting started with his musical career and his solo vocals will only continue to get better. I would not be surprised to see Josh singing at an even bigger venue in the very near future. Keep up the great work Josh we will be watching!
For more information about Joshua: