What led the singer to top hit celebrity status?
What can you tell me about Bruno Mars?
—Raoul Hernandez, Daytona Beach, Fla.
The “Just the Way You Are” singer was born Peter Jean Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii, into a musical family. His percussionist father and his dancer-singer mother performed in a Las Vegas-style revue in Waikiki Beach. Mars joined the act, becoming one of the world’s youngest-ever Elvis impersonators.
After graduating high school, Mars left for Los Angeles with dreams of launching his career as a performer. After being signed and then dropped by Motown Records, his focus turned to making a hit record. Collaborating with Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine as The Smeezingtons, the trio began writing major hits for artists including Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” and K’Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag.”
Mars finally made the big time as a solo artist in 2010 with the release of “Doo-Wops & Hooligans.” Following his worldwide success with the album, Mars wrote the critically acclaimed ballad “It Will Rain” for the motion picture soundtrack for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.” That tune followed his solo blockbusters, the multi-platinum No. 1 hits “Just the Way You Are” and “Grenade,” as well as songs that he co-wrote and co-produced in his role as one of The Smeezingtons, including Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You.”
Mars has amassed an impressive list of awards including ASCAP Song of the Year, a Billboard Music Award for Top Radio Song for “Just the Way You Are,” an American Music Award for Favorite Male Artist in Pop/Rock, and the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Artist. In 2011, Mars was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
The 27-year-old’s latest album, “Unorthodox Jukebox,” is a change in tone for the artist, who explores the price of fame in the collection of songs. “Becoming famous was never what I wanted to do,” he says. “There’s a lot of things that come with fame. I’m like, ‘Can’t I just write and sing?’”