07/25 Thursday

Bruno Mars

After a string of behind-the-scenes jobs--everything from writing songs for Brandy to impersonating Elvis--singer, songwriter, and producer Bruno Mars put his name on top of the charts in 2010 by collaborating with rapper B.o.B. for the single "Nothin' on You." Born Peter Hernandez in Waikiki, Hawaii, Mars' kicked off his career at the age of four fronting his uncle's band as the Island's youngest Elvis impersonator. Ten years later, he was impersonating the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, with the "Legends in Concert" show. After graduation, his uncle convinced him to move to the Mainland and follow of his dream of becoming a singer. There were months of frustration and going nowhere before Mars met songwriter Phillip Lawrence, the man who would convince him to try his hand at writing songs for other artists.

The two dubbed themselves the Smeezingtons and co-wrote "Long Distance," which was recorded in 2008 by R&B singer Brandy. The gigs came in fast after that. In 2009, when the duo co-wrote "Right Round" for rapper Flo Rida, they had their first number one hit on their hands. A year later, Mars would co-write and sing on B.o.B.'s number one hit "Nothin' on You," and would do the same for Travie McCoy with his cut "Billionaire." Also in 2010, he released his debut solo EP "It's Better If You Don't Understand," which featured more pop material mixed with the R&B.

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