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After several years as one of pop music's premier songwriters, Bruno Mars broke out as a singer in his own right with the 2010 hit "Nothin' on You."
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Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars was born on October 8, 1985, in Honolulu, Hawaii. By the late 2000s, he started finding success by writing songs for other popular artists such K'Naan's "Wavin' Flag," the theme song for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. After several years as one of the pop music's premier songwriters, he broke out as a singer in his own right with the 2010 hit "Nothin' on You."
"Everything's good right now. It's really paying off because now my songs are on the radio. It took me a while to finally get it, but when I got it, I think I got it right. And I'm very proud of how my songs are representing me as an artist."
Born as Peter Gene Hernandez on October 8, 1985, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Bruno Mars grew up in a very musical family. His father, Pete, was a Latin percussionist from Brooklyn, and his mother, Bernadette ("Bernie"), was a singer. Mars received his nickname, Bruno, while he was still a baby. "The name Bruno came from baby times," older sister Jamie explains. "Bruno was always so confident, independent, really strong-willed and kind of a brute — hence the name Bruno, and it kind of just stuck."
In Waikiki Beach, Mars' family performed a Las Vegas-style revue that included Motown hits, doo-wop melodies and celebrity impersonations. Growing up around entertainers, Mars began picking up musical instruments from early childhood. "I've always had a drum set, a piano, a guitar... and never got trained to play. It was just always there, he recalls. That's just how I learned, just being surrounded by it my whole life." At the age of 4, he joined the family musical act as an Elvis impersonator and quickly become one of the stars of the show. He continued to perform with his family throughout his childhood, and as he approached adolescence he added Michael Jackson to his impersonation repertoire.
Mars attended Roosevelt High School, where he and several friends formed a band, The School Boys, performing classic oldies hits alongside his family's act at the Ilikai Hotel in Honolulu. Mars credits his fearless stage presence to his unusual childhood. "Performing from such a young age just got me so comfortable on stage," he says. "Growing up performing—that was normal for me. Everyone in my family sings, plays instruments. It's what we do."
After graduating from high school in 2002 at age 17, Mars decided to leave Hawaii for Los Angeles. During his first few years in California, he struggled to make a breakthrough in the music industry. And especially because he had performed so frequently while growing up in Honolulu, Mars grew frustrated with waiting for his career to move forward. It was during this period that Mars first turned to songwriting. "I only started writing songs when I moved up to L.A., because when I was in Hawaii I never really needed to," he recalls. "But it stemmed from just learning that you have to do everything by yourself. It's not like what you see in movies, where you walk into a record company and you're given all these great songs to sing. You have to write the song the world is going to want to hear and play it over and over again. I learned that the hard way here in L.A."
A friend introduced Mars to songwriter Phillip Lawrence, who agreed to help Mars compose material.
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