Bruno Mars, born Peter Gene Hernandez, Dropped Last Name So He Wouldn't Be Pigeonholed as a Latin Artist
Bruno Mars, born Peter Gene Hernandez, celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday, Oct. 8th. And his birthday has made many revisit, with inquiry, the subject of his birth name and his ethnic background.
The Grammy Award-winning star of mixed heritage (his father was half Puerto Rican and half Jewish; his mother was Filipino) admitted during a GQ interview earlier this year that he dropped Hernandez from his name because it was a "crutch."
He explained that because of his last name industry executives often tried to pigeonhole him, insting that he performed Latin music, or tried to encourage him to sing in Spanish.
"Your last name's Hernandez, maybe you should do this Latin music, this Spanish music," Mars recalled hearing as a teen when he first sought out music labels in Los Angeles, Calif. "Enrique's so hot right now," was another response he frequently heard.
While Mars celebrates his Puerto Rican heritage, he didn't want to be labeled as a Latin artist; and furthermore, he knew that executives saw his brown skin and his last name that ended with a "z," and they figured that they had him pegged. They ignored the fact that his ethic makeup included, both, his Filipino mother who was a dancer and his Puerto Rican/Jewish father who was a percussionist from Brooklyn. Or, that Mars was raised in Hawaii -- where he did Elvis impressions every day afterschool. Executives also had no understanding of the genres of music that influenced the artist, which included hip hop, R&B, reggae and rock.
So, he changed his name so that he wouldn't be stereotyped.
Certainly, the change has worked in his favor, as he is not only a highly successful artist, butalso sucessful songwriter.
It has not has been stated whether Bruno would ever consider doing Latin music in the future, or Spanish-language songs.