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Bluff City siblings selected to vie for record deal on CBS' 'The Early Show'

Kevin Castle • Feb 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLUFF CITY — Jessi, Jedidiah, Josiah and Josephine Smith say they’re not trying to be the next Jonas Brothers or Jackson 5. They’re too busy being the first “J4.”

This musical quartet was surprised on their doorstep at 8 a.m. Wednesday by a CBS “The Early Show” television crew announcing they were chosen as one of six finalists for the show’s “Singing Family Face Off.” The finalists will vie for a CBS Records contract.

The group consists of Jessi, 15; Jedidiah, 13; Josiah, 8; and Josephine, 7.

The video submitted by the family to “The Early Show” is of the four Smith children playing together for one of the first times.

“We put the video together, arranged the song, and did everything the day of the deadline for the contest. My friend Tracy told us about the contest and said the kids had to be in it. So we took a vote. Three (of the kids) wanted to do it, one did not, so we said ‘why not?’” said Lori Smith, the fab four’s mom and co-writer of the song “Real U” that the group performed for the contest.

“Everything came together in about three hours,” said Jessi.

The kids have all had classical music training, and they call their music “pop classical.”

“Jeddy plays the piano while me, Sophie and Josiah play the violin. So we decided to put (the two music styles) together because it’s something different, and we thought that would be our little twist or the little edge in our sound. We don’t try to copy someone else’s style or music. We just try and make our own music,” Jessi said.

The children’s parents said music is used frequently in their family and in father Mark’s profession — he is pastor at Bunker Hill Christian Church — so it wasn’t a shock to see each of the children excel in four-part harmony.

Lori home-schools the four each day, and music is a part of their daily curriculum.

“The children have been saturated in it. It’s in our home, and Mark used to sing professionally in a quartet, and I’ve written music all my life. Your children just kind of soak up what you put out, and it is part of their schooling every day — just like math and science. It’s been interesting watching them grow up and see what instrument they gravitate toward. We’ve been blessed with the teachers that they’ve had.”

The four Smiths will travel to “The Early Show” studios in New York City in the coming weeks once all six families, who were chosen from thousands of uploaded video entries, are selected by CBS officials.

After that, the contestants will be put in groups of two, with the winner determined by fans who go to “The Early Show” Web site and vote.

Mark Smith says a major recording contract would be a big deal for a group just created weeks ago, but he is happy just seeing his children enjoying making music.

“We want them to do their best, and God expects nothing less of them, and it doesn’t matter whether they win or not as long as they set a fine example for the nation and even the world. We’re already proud of them,” he said.

Video performances of the current group of finalists including J4 are available by accessing “The Early Show” Web site at www.cbs.com/earlyshow.

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