Bruno Mars: Singing His Own Songs, At Long Last

Bruno Mars i i

Bruno Mars has experienced success as a producer but is now making a name for himself with a new album of his own. Gabriel Bouys hide caption

itoggle caption Gabriel Bouys
Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars has experienced success as a producer but is now making a name for himself with a new album of his own.

Gabriel Bouys

If you were flipping through radio stations this past summer, you no doubt heard the hit "Nothing on You," from rapper B.o.B. The song features Bruno Mars, who also co-wrote the song. He's also responsible for co-writing other tracks for Cee Lo Green, K'naan and Flo Rida, all of which have been chart hits.

If there's a key to writing a chart-topping song, Mars seems to have it in his pocket. But now the Grammy-winning producer is proving that he's ready to step into the spotlight on his own. His debut album, Doo Wops and Hooligans, was just released.

Hear Songs From The Album

Mars, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, says he's been in show business since he was 4. While Mars was growing up in Waikiki, his father was an entertainer who operated a 1950s-style rock show. Mars begged him to let him onstage to dance, and when he finally did, the audience loved it.

"It was a wrap after that," Mars says. "[Dad] started bringing me up onstage every night till finally they worked a little segment out for me. My mom made me an Elvis outfit, and I'd go up there and do my thing."

His "Little Elvis" impersonation was a hit. Mars took it all the way to Hollywood with a cameo role in the film Honeymoon in Vegas.

Making it into the entertainment business as an adult wasn't as easy. Mars started as a songwriter and producer instead of as a singer, as he had hoped. But that decision, he says, created new opportunities, including his recent project with B.o.B. Nowadays, however, he's also writing songs for his own albums. "Grenade," one of the singles on his new record, was inspired by, as Mars puts it, "being young and in love."

"It's probably the worst feeling in the world, when you're deeply and madly in love with a woman and you know she's not feeling you the same way, and you don't know why," Mars says.

Mars says he's still interested in collaborating with as many artists as he can, from Alicia Keys to Dolly Parton. While he's enjoyed a successful career thus far, he says he still reveres certain legends, including the one he impersonated.

"What I like about Elvis is the same thing I like about James Brown, Michael Jackson, Prince," he says. "These guys, back in the day, there was no smoke and mirrors. It was just raw talent. They would step out onstage and command an audience. Talk about awesome."

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