Peter Gene Hernandez is a gifted pop music artist but no one knows him by his birth name but rather by his stage name, Bruno Mars.
Mr. Mars apparently chose his name so he wouldnt be pigeonholed by the music industry as one more Hispanic surnamed artist dedicated to stereotypical Latin music and songs. Who can blame him? There is too much stereotyping in the artistic world as it is, too many Hispanics playing typical gangster, drug addict, and maid and prostitute roles.
The music business fares no better, once an artist begins testing his or hers vocal chords in Spanish, they are going to be put in the Hispanic hopper whether they like it or not. And even in the regular workforce, once a Hispanic employs as a diversified or equal opportunity officer, they will be hard pressed to move beyond that work classification.
In the case of the artistic world, some artists have been able to span two genre, such as Vicky Carr, Gloria Estefan the late Selena to name a few. But for some its been a rough go to become credible in other forms of music. Take the gifted artist Santana who clearly finds comfort with his music style but that is all that his followers expect of him dont think hed have much luck changing his music to easy listening for example.
But back to Mars, he is the son of a Philippine mother and a Puerto Rican/Jewish father, and because of that has a unique diverse background that reaches ancestral lines from Israel to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rio to the Philippines and he was born in Hawaii to boot. That type of diverse background in todays world is becoming more the norm than the exception.
However, its interesting to note, that while Mr. Mars enjoys such an eclectic ancestral background, his music is not of a diverse nature. Thus, it begs the question why the Billboard Latin Music Awards chose him this week for Crossover Artist of the Year.
Bruno Mars a crossover artist?
The Billboard Latin Awards is the longest running and most prestigious faction that honors the most popular albums, songs and performers in Latin music.
So what were the Latin Music Award judges thinking when they made the award? A crossover artist typically applies to a performer with two or more of the record charts which track different musical tastes, or genres.
Mr. Mars while a diversified artist; i.e., hes produced, choreographed and performed but its all in the same music arena, pop music.
Crossover can be interpreted many ways but in the end, it has only one meaning, going from one area of music to the other, or if you like, it can be going from one language to the other, or as it was done during the early rock and roll days, re-recorded music especially by White artists that had been originated by Black artists, albeit in a much different venue.
In the case of Bruno Mars, hes a pop music artist that has performed in his native English language only, never in Spanish or any other language for that matter. Music awards are supposedly given to artists for their outstanding and unique performance and no doubt Bruno Mars is qualified and has repeatedly demonstrated his excellence over the past five years.
But those that make awards should be careful in making their selections so as not to take away from the talent of the individual or group performers. Its interesting that while Mr. Mars doesnt want to be stereotyped, he has been the recipient of more than one award from Latino groups and they recognized him for being Latin rather than the overall artist he wants to be. So, go figure!