Oahu's Bruno Mars on his way to music stardom

Bruno Mars in 1990
Bruno Mars in 1990
Johnny Valentine
Johnny Valentine
Phillip Lawrence
Phillip Lawrence
Peter Hernandez
Peter Hernandez

By Malika Dudley - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Recently hitting number one with the song "Nothin' On You", and a new EP just released, local boy Bruno Mars is well on his way to becoming a pop star, very much like the idols that he imitated at an early age.

Performing in Waikiki with his uncle, four-year-old Bruno dazzled audiences as the world's smallest Elvis impersonator. Ten years later, he continued to entertain audiences as another king. The king of pop at the Legends in Concert show. The Roosevelt graduate is a natural onstage, but he also writes, produces, and plays several instruments.

"Just being from a musical family, it's always been at my house. I've always had a drum set, a piano, a guitar...and never got trained to play. It was just always there. That's just how I learned, just being surrounded by it my whole life," Mars said.

Bruno's Uncle Johnny convinced him to leave Hawaii and make a name for himself.

"I started writing when I moved out to LA. That's when I had to basically become an artist. I had been doing all the impersonations and Motown revues for so long that I had never had a chance to do that. So as soon as I went to LA, that's when everything started, and I found out you have to do everything by yourself," he said.

And struggle. Frustrated by the difficulty of making it in the music business, Bruno was ready to throw in the towel.

"I said no, you gotta stay there. I can feel it. And he was like, no man, I like come home already. I miss everybody," uncle, Valentine said.

Things started to change soon after. A mutual friend introduced Bruno to a songwriter named Phillip Lawrence.

"He said, yo man, I got this kid, he's really talented, and brought me in. Immediately, I knew that there was something special," Lawrence said.

Lawrence and Mars started working together, and their musical partnership resulted in songs that were sought after by record label, culminating in a #1 hit for Flo-Rida, 'Right Round'

Despite having tasted success behind the scenes, Bruno wanted more.

"I never moved to California to be a producer or a songwriter. It just fell into place. For some reason, it took me to this left turn, that I just had to ride out until people started noticing it's me writing the song," Mars said.

Finally making it as an artist, Mars is happy to be giving back by doing what he's done all his life...entertain.

"I'm not really surprised. Because the first time I saw him, perform, I was like, he's a natural born talent," Alison Maldonado said.

"We knew it, he's just gonna get bigger, no doubt," Lynelle Marable said.

"I'm so proud of him, and I think he's really gonna go far," Bruno's father, Peter Hernandez said.

"You just gotta believe in yourself and keep doing what you're doing. I know it sounds cheesy but that's the truth. I knew I left Hawaii for a reason. My dream is to come back home and take care of my family, that's my dream. Once I do that, I'll be good," Mars said.

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