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Home AJ Magazines MDWK Bruno Mars: The Fil-Am Artist with Universal Appeal

Bruno Mars: The Fil-Am Artist with Universal Appeal

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Filipino-American singer-songwriter-producer Bruno Mars ended 2010 with a big bang. His song, Grenade is at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 and expected to stay there for some time. He wrote on his website, “Grenade is the no. 1 song in the country. What a way to end my year! Thank you all for giving me the greatest year of my life.”

Yes, 2010 has been Bruno Mars’ greatest year in his 25 years in the planet. Grenade is Bruno’s third number one after Nothin’ On You with B.o.B. and Just the Way You Are. Grenade sold over 500,000 singles in one week alone! His songs have scored nominations at the Teen Choice, BET Hip Hop and MTV awards.

Moreover, just before the year ended, Bruno Mars learned that he has been nominated for 7 Grammys for the upcoming February award show for his work as a recording artist, songwriter and record producer.

Indeed, Bruno is one of the hottest stars in pop music today. He is the first male act in over 13 years to take his first two charting radio singles as a lead artist to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, Mars is the biggest act to come out of Hawaii in almost 40 years, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, which featured him in its cover recently. “No artist from Hawaii has hit the national charts harder straight out of the box since Bette Midler went platinum with her debut album, The Divine Miss M, and won the Grammy Award for best new artist in 1973,” said the Star-Advertiser of Bruno Mars.

The New York Times called him “one of the most versatile and accessible singers in pop, with a light, soul-influenced voice that’s an easy fit in a range of styles, a universal donor.”

Born Peter Gene Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 8, 1985, Bruno comes from a musical family. His Filipina mother, Bernadette “Bernie” Hernandez, is a very good vocalist while his Puerto Rican father Pete is “an incredible percussionist” who has a band. Bernie immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines as a child while Pete moved to the island from Brooklyn, New York. The two met while performing in a show where his mother was a hula dancer and his father played percussion.

At the age of two, Mars was nicknamed ‘Bruno’ by his father, because he was a chubby baby and because there was a famous chubby wrestler at the time called Bruno Sammartino. He adopted his stage name from the nickname his father gave him, adding “Mars” at the end because “I felt like I didn’t have no pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I’m from Mars.”

In an earlier interview, Bruno said, “Growing up in Hawaii made me the man I am. I used to do a lot of shows in Hawaii with my father’s band. Everybody in my family sings, everyone plays instruments.”

Mars started singing at the age of four by fronting his uncle’s band, becoming Oahu’s youngest Elvis impersonator in the process. In 1990, at the age of 5, Mars was featured in MidWeek as “Little Elvis”, going on to have a cameo in the film Honeymoon in Vegas in 1992. Later, he was impersonating Michael Jackson.

In 2003, after graduating from President Theodore Roosevelt High School at the age of seventeen, Mars moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a musical career. His sister, Jamie, who’d moved to California years earlier, helped him make initial contacts. A “very, very crappy demo” got Mars a deal with Motown.

Bruno said in an article, “Through Motown I just started building different relationships, and while I was signed with them I met Philip Lawrence.” Philip convinced him to try his hand at writing songs for other artists. The two dubbed themselves the Smeezingtons and co-wrote Long Distance, which was recorded in 2008 by R&B singer Brandy. More offers arrived after that, but it wasn’t until 2009 did Bruno Mars put his name on top of the charts in 2009 by co-writing Flo Rida’s hit song Right Round.

By 2010, Mars seemed to be everywhere: singing alongside B.o.B on the chart-topping Nothin’ on You, and co-writing Travie McCoy’s Billionaire, both of which became Top Ten hits. Mars used that momentum to launch a solo career, quickly becoming the first male vocalist in two decades to crack the Top Ten with his first four singles.

Following this success, Mars released his debut extended play (EP), titled It’s Better If You Don’t Understand, on May 11, 2010. The EP peaked at the ninety-ninth position on the Billboard 200 and produced one single: The Other Side, featuring rappers Cee Lo Green and B.o.B.

 Mars collaborated with Cee Lo Green once more in August 2010 by co-writing his single F*ck You! He performed a medley of Nothin’ on You and Airplanes with B.o.B and Hayley Williams at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010.

Mars’ debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, was released on October 5, 2010. The lead single, Just the Way You Are, was released on July 19, 2010, and quickly reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

While Bruno is incredibly proud of the recordings, he said the best way to experience the sound is to see him perform live with his band. “That is what I’m most excited for—taking these songs and traveling them around the world,” he said. And one of his destinations is the homeland of his mom, the Philippines. According to a Twitter announcement made by the producers at N91LIVE, Bruno will be performing two shows on April in Cebu and Manila: April 7, 2011—Waterfront Hotel, Cebu, Philippines and on April 8, 2011 at the Mall Of Asia Concert Grounds, Manila.

At the top of the world at such a young age, Bruno says, “This is just the beginning for me, and I know that. But I have so much more to go and so much more to show.”


(LA Midweek Jan 5-7, 2010 MDWK pg.2)


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