Bruno Mars is of mixed ethnicity. Born Peter Gene Hernandez, he has Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Filipino, Spanish, Jewish, Hispanic, Hungarian, and Ukrainian roots from both of his parents’ sides.
Bruno Mars’s ethnicity is as diverse as his career in music. The American singer admired for his potent stage performances is also a songwriter, record producer, and of course, a dancer. It seems the “Grenade” hit maker has paralleled his mixed background in his career as he has not limited himself to any genre.
From rock to hip hop, pop, reggae, soul, R&B, and funk, Bruno has traversed various aspects of the music industry at great length, and his efforts have won him some of the most coveted awards thereof, including eleven Grammy Awards, four Guinness World Records, and many more.
The electrifying performer is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 130 million records across the globe. In 2011, Time magazine named him among the 100 most influential people in the world.
With his massive accomplishment in the competitive industry, it’s only natural that people have come to wonder about the secret to his undeniable talent that facilitated the successes he has enjoyed. The answer to that is not far-fetched; as you would soon learn in detail, Bruno has a solid family background in music and entertainment.
Bruno Mars Identifies With Multiple Ethnic Groups Because of His Mixed Heritage
Bruno Mars’s ethnicity is so diverse that it’s easier to just describe him as a multi-racial American singer. Those who insist on narrowing his origin often regard him as a Hawaiian-born American of Filipina and Puerto Rican descent. But then, that limits his heritage to his parents. Trace it down some more and you’d uncover that the “Just The Way You Are” singer also has Jewish and European roots traceable to Ukraine and Hungary. In all, the singer has a blend of family background that makes it possible for him to identify with multiple ethnicities: Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Filipino, Spanish, Jewish, Hispanic, Hungarian, and Ukrainian.
As you’d easily find, the singer was born on the 8th of October 1985 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Bernadetta San Pedro Bayot and Peter Hernandez. Now, Bruno’s father Peter Hernandez was born in Brooklyn, New York. But then, one of his parents had Ashkenazi Jewish background traced to Hungary and Ukraine whereas the other is of Puerto Rican descent. The heritage from his mother’s side is also mixed. Bernadette San Pedro Bayot was born in the Philippines and largely a Filipina, nonetheless, she had some Spanish ancestors. It is said that Bernadette migrated from the Philippines to Hawaii where she met Peter and later got married to him.
Bruno Mars said he never thought much about his multi-racial identity until he left Hawaii for Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. Just after he graduated from high school and at the age of 17, Bruno relocated to Los Angeles and lived at Mansfield Avenue. The singer said he was shocked to learn his background was an issue that left record executives struggling on how to categorize him. According to him, it was a need for the executives to decide things like what radio station would play his songs and the ethnic group to buy his albums.
His Real Name Is Peter Gene Hernandez – Here’s How He Derived His Pseudonym
The multiple Grammy Awards winner was named after his father when he was born as his birth name is Peter Gene Hernandez. He is only one of his parents’ six children and was born into a musical family. While “Bruno” is not his real name, it has followed the singer since he was two. As the story goes, he was nicknamed as such by his father at that age because the older Peter believed his son looked like Bruno Sammartino, an Italian-American professional wrestler. When he began performing in various venues across Hawaii and became known as “Little Elvis”, the singer went with Bruno as his name, which people assumed was his real name.
As a kid, Bruno was exposed to an elaborate range of music genres thanks to his parents who were both entertainers. While his late mother was a singer and a dancer, his father was good with his percussion and often performed Little Richard’s songs which inspired Bruno to embrace his career path. It is said that his parents met at an event where they both performed.
Apart from his parents, Bruno Mars had an uncle who entertained people by impersonating Elvis Presley. This uncle pushed Bruno to perform Elvis and Michael Jackson songs when he was only three years old.
Bruno Added “Mars” To His Name To Evade Being Pigeonholed
By the time he was four, Bruno Mars started performing with his family band called The Love Notes. Even though he had his parents wonder if they were doing the right thing by encouraging him to nurture his flair for showmanship after he peed his pants while performing Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” when he was five, he kept at it and it soon became difficult to think of him doing anything else as an adult.
The singer picked up “Mars” as a teenager after he moved to Los Angeles to intensify his pursuit of a music career. Realizing that music executives are prone to stereotyping him as a Latin artist, Bruno thought of the girls who had told him he’s not of this world after seeing his performance and added Mars to his name. For him, it was a way to deal with the identity issues music executives were having with him which was threatening to pigeonhole him.
Does His Racial Ambiguity Still Constitute Challenges for Him In The Music Industry?
It is hard to think of any problem that Bruno Mars’s ethnicity and racial identity have posed for his music career of late. But sometime in 2018, he was accused of cultural appropriation. The Grapevine, a show that revolves around promoting the welfare of African Americans, contended that Bruno has been hiding under his racial ambiguity to profit from black music.
Prominent black figures in the music industry like Uncle Charlie and Stevie Wonder dismissed the claims of Bruno copying black singers as baseless. Five years earlier, the singer revealed that his single with B.o.B titled “Nothin’ on You” almost didn’t see the light of the day. According to him, the song which eventually became a global hit was rejected by an executive because of race.