A 12-year-old Charlotte boy will be on Center Court at the U.S. Open on Friday night, singing “God Bless America” to an expected full house of 23,000 tennis fans.
Joshua King, who has performed with a number of Grammy winners and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, was selected for the second straight year as one of 13 young singers to perform the song during the Grand Slam tennis tournament in Flushing, N.Y., in the New York borough of Queens.
King, who sang and played harmonica with blues legend James Cotton on stage in Nova Scotia at age 9, is scheduled to sing about 7 p.m.
“But we aren’t sure about the time,” Joshua’s mother, Joy, said Thursday. “Last year, a women’s match ran long, and it was after 9 p.m. before he got to sing.”
The U.S. Tennis Association annually conducts auditions for tournament vocalists. Like other entrants, Joshua submitted a DVD and then traveled to New York City in July as one of the finalists.
“I had a lot of fun singing at the U.S. Open and going to the matches last year,” Joshua said. “I wanted to go for it again.”
Whether the Charlotte singer gets national air time on ESPN, which is televising most of the tournament, is iffy. Joy King said her son was not on TV last year, although he could be heard singing in the background.
Joshua King, who also has acted on a number of TV shows, performs several styles of music but has made his mark as a blues vocalist. At the age of 10, he sang and played harmonica in three shows with Cotton at the Lincoln Center in New York City.
But Joshua said performing at Arthur Ashe Stadium, home of the U.S. Open, is “really different from anything else that I had ever done before.” Unlike stage performances, where the crowd is usually below the performer, the tennis stadium puts the singer below the crowd.
“It’s like being in a fishbowl,” Joy King said.
“The experience is epic,” her son added.
Joy King says her son studies vocals with Mark Baxter, who has worked with Aerosmith and Journey, and with Jan Smith, who has coached Usher, Rob Thomas and others. He also studies piano with teacher Claire Ritter of Charlotte.
Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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